We've loved Janet Jackson ever since Control, partly because she seems to have remained relatively sane despite growing up in America's most baroquely fucked-up family. Er, the nipple thing aside. So we were pleased when last night at the Bryant Park Hotel, before a special intimate (read: we weren't invited) screening of her forthcoming film, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?, we got to ask her a question worthy of James Lipton: What did she learn about acting from playing Penny on Good Times when she was 11?
"I wasn't a brat, but I wasn't doing quite what they wanted me to," she said. "I was supposed to cry and do certain things and I'd always save it during rehearsals, but when the producers came down to see the run-through, then I gave my all. Now I don't hold back. Even if the camera isn't on you, you still give to your fellow actors." But what does she give to Jermaine Dupri, her producer-rapper boyfriend of six years? Does she ever ask herself, Why don't I get married?" "No," she said firmly. "I've done it twice already, and I'm just taking my time. I don't need a piece of paper to validate what it is we have." Not even a nice little private ceremony? She rolled those feline eyes. "I don't think Jermaine can do anything privately," she sighed. —Tim Murphy