A Surprise Engagement for La Toya Jackson

Dan Kloeffler
A Surprise Engagement for La Toya Jackson

When you’re the middle child of a large family, it can be a battle to get attention. But if your last name is “Jackson,” and you have a reality show on Oprah’s television network OWN, getting recognition comes without much effort. Just ask La Toya Jackson.

At 58, the middle Jackson sister is the master of her image, like surprising the world with an orchestrated announcement that she’s engaged to longtime business partner and best friend Jeffre Phillips. Humbly sporting a 17.5-carat diamond ring, Jackson said she was completely surprised by Phillips’ proposal: an engagement “had never crossed my mind.”

“I’m loving every minute of it,” she said. “He’s the most caring, loving individual. I wish every girl had a Jeffre in her life.”

It’s not the first time Jackson will say “I do,” having been married to businessman Jack Gordon in the 1990s. Physical and emotional abuse in that marriage tainted Jackson’s views on relationships and men, which she describes in the first season of “Life With La Toya.”

“It was like complete control. I was like a little kid, that you have no power, no say-so,” she explained. “He had all the power, he had all the say-so. He instilled fear so I was afraid … He promised me that if I got away, he was going to kill me anyway.”

But having since broken from the torture and made progress in therapy, which she unabashedly shares with viewers, Jackson is showing the world that she is not just Michael’s big sister. She is opening the doors to her Louis Vuitton lifestyle, with the support of her all too famous parents, both of whom are featured in the show.

“What you see is what you get,” said Jackson. “Like my mother says, ‘The world needs to know you. They need to know who you are and how you are. They have it all wrong. Do it, do the show.’ And she wanted me to. There are so many misconceptions about our family. Let them see who we are.”

And now with nuptials to plan -- if the 17.5-carat ring is any indication, the ceremony could be legendary -- Jackson and her fiancé are already talking about the possibility of adoption. Watch the video to learn why there could be a second girl named “Paris” in the Jackson dynasty.

“Life with La Toya” returns for its summer premiere Saturday, June 7 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.