After dressing up as the icon for The Today Show’s 2019 Halloween episode, anchor Sheinelle Jones got to personally thank Janet Jackson for inspiring her throughout her life.
Jackson, 56, appeared on Friday morning’s show to promote her upcoming tour Together Again, but was touched when Jones approached her to share a heartfelt story. The 44-year-old host said that, growing up as a young Black girl in Wichita, Kansas, she didn’t see many people who looked like her in her community, let alone in the entertainment industry.
“Why you’re so important to me is because if you can see it, you can be it,” Jones explained, adding that actors on The Cosby Show and its spinoff, A Different World, gave her the motivation to believe she could succeed in television.
But Jackson was on TV as herself, and that further inspired Jones.
“Then, I saw you. Fierce. Vulnerable. Funky. Beautiful. You could dance — like all the things. You would be shy and then you would get on that stage and you would just slay before they even used that word,” Jones said. “You did that for so many of us, before the Beyoncés of the world, before all of the folks that we see now.”
Jones said she’s grateful that her 10-year-old daughter can scroll through Instagram and see all these women to look up to, but for her generation, Ms. Jackson was it.
The women hugged before Jackson, a mother herself to 5-year-old son Eissa Al Mana, thanked Jones for her kind words.
“You never get tired of it. It’s why you do what you do, hoping that you can touch someone in a positive way, make a difference even in just one person’s life,” Jackson said. “You’ve accomplished. You’ve succeeded. That makes me feel so good to hear you say that.”
Jackson also invited Jones to come on tour with her, and even perform on stage. She clearly saw and was impressed by Jones’ Halloween impersonation!
What a touching exchange.