Skai Jackson Gets Real About Being a Child Actor and the Effects of Bullying (Exclusive)
By Amy Lee
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Skai Jackson is getting real about growing up as a Disney Channel child star.
The 17-year-old actress, YouTuber and author, whose new book, Reach for the Skai: How to Inspire, Empower, and Clapback, just launched, sat down with ET for our Unfiltered series, where she chatted about starting young in Hollywood.
Jackson, who began her career as a child model, starred on Disney's Jessie in 2011alongside Debby Ryan, Peyton List and the late Cameron Boyce. Jackson shared that getting to act on a Disney Channel show was a goal of hers, looking up to stars like Raven-Symoné of That's So Raven (whom she crossed paths with multiple times while filming on the Disney lot!).
Although Jessie has been off the air since 2015, Jackson still keeps in touch with her castmates.
"I mean, me and Debby [Ryan], we have had certain conversations, like, personal conversations," the actress said. "And even my other co-star, Peyton List, since I did know her since I was two, so we would, like, talk all the time. But I never got to have a full conversation of how, you know, being a child star is. We haven't fully gotten in-depth, but that's something maybe I should do. We should all have a sit-together and chat about it. I think that's a good idea."
Jackson had a lot of amazing opportunities that came from the series, one of which was meeting Justin Bieber when she was 10 years old.
"So I got to meet Justin [Bieber]. He was so, so nice. The whole time he was talking to me and playing with me. I think I was 10 at the time. I was such a huge fan of his and I still am now," the actress gushed. "And I was so surprised when he left me that note. I was so happy that Justin Bieber snuck in my room. I was like, 'Oh my goodness.' You couldn't tell me anything. I was so happy. I hung that [note] up in school and then I took it home."
But the early fame came with the price of inevitable haters, especially on social media. Jackson revealed she has learned to deflect the negativity and continue to stay true to herself.
"For me, growing up at a young age in the limelight and on social media, I joined Twitter when I was 10 and I got my Instagram when I was 11, so when I joined Instagram, I did notice a lot of hate comments or people would just, like, nitpick at my appearance, just to be funny," Jackson said. "A lot of people go through this. The most popular people do. And for me, being a young age, I didn't understand why these people were saying these things. I would get really, really sad."
"But now I'm starting to learn to love myself no matter what and not care what anyone says," she continued.
Self-love was taught early by her mother, whom Jackson graced the cover of Parenting magazine with in 2007, which made history.
"At that time, there weren't a lot of black kids on covers, especially a mom and a daughter. And for us to be, like, one of the first was pretty awesome," she shared. "And to really see and prove those people wrong, like people wouldn't think that if you put black people on a cover it would sell out, but ours did. I feel like we are breaking stereotypes, which is a great thing. And my mom has always wanted me to be who I was born to be and whoever I want to be and inspire to be in life. So my mom is really supportive and I love that."
Watch Jackson's full interview in the video above and check out more episodes of Unfiltered, below: