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Paris Jackson: Superstar's daughter builds own identity in spotlight

By Phil Gast and Alan Duke, CNN
June 6, 2013 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Paris Jackson and her two brothers were kept out of public's eye when young
  • They are now more visible
  • Paris, 15, was hospitalized on Wednesday
  • The high school student wants to be an actress

(CNN) -- Like her father had done countless times before, Paris Jackson stepped to the microphone.

What followed at the star-studded public memorial for Michael Jackson was a heartbreaking tribute from a young girl millions of fans barely knew.

"Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine," the 11-year-old said through tears, as relatives patted and comforted her. "And I just want to say, that I love him so much."

The brief appearance on July 7, 2009, at Los Angeles' Staples Center, was a surprise, given Paris, like her two brothers, had been shielded by their superstar father for most of their lives.

Jackson family attorney: Paris is OK

Only two weeks before, according to testimony in the 2011 trial of Michael Jackson's physician, Paris saw her dying father lying on a bed with his eyes and mouth open.

She screamed out "Daddy!"

That trauma of losing a father was recalled Wednesday after Paris Jackson was rushed to a hospital after cutting one of her wrists, sources close to the family told CNN.

Paris called a suicide counseling hot line, which led to a counselor calling 911 to the Jackson home in Calabasas, California, the sources said. Other Jackson sources stopped short of calling the incident a suicide attempt, although one suggested it might be "a cry for help."

"Being a sensitive 15-year-old is difficult no matter who you are," attorney Perry Sanders said. "It is especially difficult when you lose the person closest to you."

While either behind a mask as a small child or in the public eye as a teen, the aspiring actress has endured many ups and downs in her relatively few years.

Since their father's death, Prince, Paris and Blanket's lives have become more public.

From left, Prince, Blanket and Paris Jackson at the \'Michael Forever Tribute Concert\' at Millennium Stadium on October 8, 2011. in Cardiff, Wales.
From left, Prince, Blanket and Paris Jackson at the 'Michael Forever Tribute Concert' at Millennium Stadium on October 8, 2011. in Cardiff, Wales.

HLNtv: The troubled lives of Hollywood's kids

In TV interviews, Paris has spoken about a devoted father who sometimes let his kids go to Chuck E. Cheese. A father who mildly disciplined them if they did something bad.

Michael Jackson wanted his children to grow up without fanfare and overwhelming scrutiny. He talked to his children about his youth while starring in the Jackson 5.

"He would always be stuck in the studio singing while other kids were out playing," Paris told Oprah Winfrey in June 2012.

The daughter talked about why the siblings wore masks when away from home.

"I didn't get why I was wearing a mask. But I understand it now -- why my dad would want our face to be covered," she said. "(So) when we went out without him we would not be recognized. We would have a normal childhood."

Paris said she has dealt with issues familiar to some adolescents. People tried to bully her, Paris told Oprah. "A lot of people don't like me," she said.

The death in 2009 of superstar Michael Jackson, who died of cardiac arrest at the age of 50, sent shockwaves around the world. The death in 2009 of superstar Michael Jackson, who died of cardiac arrest at the age of 50, sent shockwaves around the world.
Michael Jackson, King of Pop
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Photos: Michael Jackson, King of Pop Photos: Michael Jackson, King of Pop

And, she admitted, normalcy can be tough to attain when a security detail escorts you to the mall.

Paris wants to make her own mark as an actress. She signed to star in the upcoming film, "Lundon's Bridge and the Three Keys," based on children's fantasy novels.

"You can be like a totally different person on camera and it's fun," Paris told Winfrey. "You can take on another character and it's awesome."

The siblings are part of a family that has seen its share of public disputes.

Their grandmother, Katherine Jackson, shares guardianship with TJ Jackson, the son of Tito Jackson, under an agreement forged last year after the Jackson matriarch was away for 10 days. Katherine Jackson was eventually found to be at an Arizona spa with several of her sons and daughters.

A missing person report triggered a media storm, with Paris tweeting for people to help find her grandmother or at least to get Jackson to call her grandchildren.

At the time, CNN obtained surveillance video that appeared to show Paris' superstar aunt, Janet Jackson, attempting to take the then 14-year-old's cell phone from her. Authorities reportedly broke up a scuffle at the Jackson family home after that event.

Katherine Jackson: Michael's mother, 82, was deposed for nine hours over three days by AEG Live lawyers. As the guardian of her son's three children, she is a plaintiff in the wrongful death lawsuit against the company that promoted Michael Jackson's comeback concerts. Katherine Jackson: Michael's mother, 82, was deposed for nine hours over three days by AEG Live lawyers. As the guardian of her son's three children, she is a plaintiff in the wrongful death lawsuit against the company that promoted Michael Jackson's comeback concerts.
Key players in Jackson wrongful death trial
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Who\'s who in Jackson trial Who's who in Jackson trial

Paris and Prince, 16, are listed as potential witnesses in an ongoing trial. Members of the Jackson family contend AEG Live is liable in Michael Jackson's 2009 fatal drug overdose. The siblings were questioned separately by AEG attorneys before the wrongful death trial began in April.

"A grilling of a child regarding the loss of her father is going to create a lot of pressure," Jackson trial lawyer Kevin Boyle said Wednesday. "Paris Jackson was asked intimate details about her father and her father's death; it was a very intense situation."

AEG Live lawyer Marvin Putnam denied his team was tough on Paris Jackson in her deposition.

Paris questioned about dad's death in lawsuit

In between the headlines, Paris continues in school, formulating her own dreams. She's a cheerleader for her high school's basketball team.

The teen was recently reunited with her mother, Debbie Rowe, who bowed out of her life when she was an infant. Paris has been spending time with Rowe at her horse farm.

Rowe is the biological mother of Prince and Paris. The couple divorced in 1999, with Rowe giving Jackson full custody while she got an $8.5 million settlement, according to court documents. Jackson later agreed to additional support.

Rowe said in a 2003 interview, later obtained by ABC News, that she became close to Jackson in 1996 when she consoled him after his brief marriage to Lisa Marie Presley ended.

Paris' first solo TV interview was in December 2011, with Ellen DeGeneres. She told the host that as a young girl she did not realize Michael Jackson was so famous.

DeGeneres asked Paris whether she would be compared to her father if she performed music.

"Well, I understand that I will be put on a certain level compared to him, and I might not meet everybody's standards," Paris replied.

"But, I mean, it's me," she said to applause.

CNN's Emily Smith contributed to this report.

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