LOS ANGELES - Call her a Janet of all trades.
Janet Jackson (Miss Jackson if you're nasty) is part of the ensemble cast of Tyler Perry's new film, "Why Did I Get Married." She has returned to the studio to record a follow-up to last year's "20 Y.O," due early next year, plus she's writing a book about her struggle with her weight.
In her first film in seven years, Jackson plays Patricia, a psychologist who's great at helping others but has trouble taking her own advice. She stars alongside Perry, Jill Scott, Malik Yoba and Sharon Leal.
Speaking by phone from New York, where Jackson was promoting the film, the 41-year-old star spoke with The Associated Press about movies, music and marriage - but remained mum on her enigmatic brother Michael.
AP: What drew you to this role?
Jackson: Tyler and I wanted to work together. ... When I read the script, I fell in love with not only the character, who I felt like I could relate to a little bit, but also that it was an ensemble piece. That's what I had been looking for for a while.
AP: Do you find acing and music related?
Jackson: When I write, I write about my life experiences and that's truthful, it's putting the truth within it and try to go into recording and singing it from my soul and giving it all of my truth. I think you do the same thing with acting. ... You try to bring truth to the character that you're playing, truth to each and every scene that you do.
AP: Is one art more fulfilling than the other?
Jackson: Acting, at this point, might be a little bit more satisfying. It's always been my first passion though, my first love. Singing comes easier. Acting is more of a challenge for me.
AP: Talk about the book.
Jackson: I'm in the midst of writing (about) my journeys of weight loss and weight gain and weight loss. ... It's just really coming from my life, what was going on in my life, from my soul. So many people have asked me about it and how did I do it. Everybody has a story to tell so this is my little story about that portion of my life. AP: Is it painful to write about something so personal?
Jackson: I get lumps in my throat at times. ... Just to go back to that place and be able to write about it, it does get a little painful at times. But at the same time, it can be very cathartic and inspiring for myself still. Just to think back and to listen to how far I've come in my little struggle.
AP: What's your new album like?
Jackson: It's still me. I'm still doing myself, really. The reason why I'm saying this is because as of right now, I'm not working with (longtime collaborators) Jimmy (Jam) and Terry (Lewis). And if we're really going to work together on this album, I don't know. I'm not quite sure. ... Hopefully we can and we'll get together and be able to do at least a couple of things together.
AP: You released "20 Y.O." around your 40th birthday. How do you feel about getting older, especially in a business that so values youth?
Jackson: In my family, age has always been just a number. We don't trip on it. ... But I think I can say - and not boasting, but with a great deal of pride - that I don't think I look my age. ... It's a matter of how you feel inside. It's just a number. And I think that plays a great deal in your attitude and how you carry yourself on the outside. ... Maybe this is what 40 is supposed to be like. Maybe I'd feel a little different if I had kids but that's in the future hopefully, so I might be changing my tune.
AP: Is marriage in your future?
Jackson: I don't know. I've done it twice and divorced twice. For myself, I don't need a piece of paper that I really think is to keep tabs on you really to validate what it is that we have. I think what's most important is having a spiritual connection and to find your soul mate, and I do believe we have more than one, and to exchange a vow between one another. And that's all that I need and I'm good.
AP: What's going on with Michael?
Jackson: I don't speak about my brother any more. So that's my way of saying I'm not going to answer your question.
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