ABC News’ Paula Faris and Ross Eichenholz report:
Three years after Michael Jackson’s death, his daughter Paris Jackson says she’s still coping with his loss but also dealing with grown-up problems like having a security detail and coping with bullying.
“I just like, remember something, and I smile,” she told Oprah Winfrey in the interview which aired on “Oprah’s Next Chapter” Sunday night.
The 14-year-old invited Winfrey into her home and her life, and in many ways, she’s like any other teenager. She’s switched from homeschooling to attend high school, hangs out with friends and reveals that she has even dealt with bullying.
“People have tried [to bully], but it doesn’t always work,” she said. “At school and some people try to cyber bully me. They try to get to me with words, but that doesn’t really work.”
When asked by Winfrey if she thought her peers were jealous, Paris said: “Maybe, I don’t know.”
Jackson’s daughter first entered the spotlight after the King of Pop’s death in June 2009, stepping up to the microphone at his memorial service and sharing her grief with the world.
“I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine,” the then 11-year-old said as tears welled in her eyes and brothers Michael Joseph Jr., and Prince Michael II, looked on. ”And I just wanted to say, I love him so much.”
Since then, life for Michael Jackson’s daughter has been anything but ordinary. Because of the paparazzi and the public’s interest in her, Paris has security with her around the clock, which she calls “unfortunate” and says her friends sometimes find “creepy.”
“They think it’s kind of creepy, but some of them don’t really care,” she said.
While Michael Jackson was often criticized for his unorthodox parenting choices – notably making his kids wear feathered masks or veils in public — Paris says her childhood was shockingly normal.
“I was really confused. I didn’t get why I was wearing a mask. But I understand it now — why my dad would want our faces to be covered. When we went out without him we wouldn’t be recognized, and we could have a normal childhood,” she said.
“Our dad was a really normal father when he was with us,” she said, naming Chuck E. Cheese’s and Toys R Us as some of their favorite places to go.
Now, Paris is following in her father’s footsteps — sort of. She’s chosen to pursue acting and will star in her first flick, a fantasy movie, “Lundon’s Bridge and the Three Keys,” due out in 2013. As she branches out on her own, she says it’s the memories of her ordinary life with her famous father that continue to drive her.
By Zach Johnson
Being one of the most famous teenagers in the world doesn’t guarantee popularity, as Paris Jackson can attest.
The 14-year-old daughter of the late Michael Jackson appeared on Oprah’s Next Chapter Sunday, where she opened up about being bullied by her classmates at L.A.’s prestigious Buckley School. (Famous alums include Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, both 31.)
“People try, but it doesn’t always work. [It happens] at school and some people try to cyber bully me,” Paris admitted. “They try to get to me with words, but that doesn’t really work.”
Host Oprah Winfrey, 58, then asked if her classmates might be jealous, given her father’s legendary career. “I don’t know,” Paris said sheepishly.
The aspiring actress is, however, happy to no longer be home-schooled. “It’s more normal. It’s more fun,” she said. “The social life has gotten better. I mean, there’s drama, but. . .”
Paris also explained why she and her brothers, Prince, 15, and Blanket, 10, were forced to wear masks in public as children. “I was really confused. I didn’t get why I was wearing a mask,” Paris told Winfrey. “But I understand now why my dad would want our face to be covered. Like, when we went out without him, we wouldn’t be recognized, and we would have a normal childhood.”
She added: “Our dad was a really normal father when he was with us. We would get grounded if we did something bad.”
Like Michael, who passed away in June 2009 at age 50, Paris has her sights set on show business; she’ll make her feature film debut in the movie Lundon’s Bridge and the Three Keys.
“It’s fun. You can take on another character,” Paris said of her acting ambitions. “I think that’s just so awesome.”