“I Try To Keep Her Humble” Skai Jackson’s Mom Talks Raising A Disney Star And Daughter’s Twitter Beef

August 26, 2017  |  

kiya cole talks raising disney star skai jackson


You may have seen Skai Jackson on the Disney show Jessie playing “Zuri”, the cute kid with attitude or being a big kid on a Band-Aid commercial, or even reading rapper Azealia Banks to filth on social media. At the very least you’ve seen her smirking in a viral meme in a royal blue dress with her legs crossed being used to mock everything from salty side chicks to petty mamas. But rest assured, although her memes are hilarious, Skai Jackson’s mother, Kiya Cole is nothing to play with. Cole recently sat down with Refinery29 and shared what it’s like raising her now 15-year-old who has been sprinkling #BlackGirlMagic across TV screens since she was two-years-old. She reveals initially she didn’t think she and her daughter would still be traveling the long road to fame. After being told Skai was a cute baby, she decided to give the modeling industry a shot and sent pictures into modeling agencies. At the time she was working at a post office and heard back from both of the agencies on the same day. She then made a decision that changed both of their lives:

“I never wavered about her going into the industry. At the time, the only thing I could think of is, ‘Well, hopefully she can make enough money to go to college.’”

Jackson booked Jessie at 8 ½ years old and since then the pair has been living in Los Angeles. Initially Cole managed her daughter’s career part-time, but now that she’s a teenager, she has a bit more freedom:

“She still has someone that covers a lot for us on the East Coast, who’s been with us since Skai was three-and-a-half. She’s never the final decision; I am. She’ll call me to ask if something is okay, and then I basically make all the decisions.”

“Now that Skai’s a teen, I have a little bit more freedom, whereas before, I felt like I was more tied down to stay at home and watch her. I get a lot of stuff done. I’m also in the works of starting something of my own now because she is older, and I have a little bit more flexibility, business-wise. So usually for me, my days consist of errands, answering emails, talking on the phone — it usually has to do with Skai and her career. But my schedule’s pretty flexible for the most part.”

She shares that fame was initially difficult to adjust to and that there was a point when Skai was surprised she couldn’t even go to the bathroom without being recognized, but Cole does her best to remind her daughter that fame can be fleeting and routinely brings her down to Earth:

“When it comes to fame, I basically told Skai not to take it too seriously. Yes, it’s her job, but for the most part, just to have fun with it, because you have to love what you do. Also, I try to keep her as grounded as possible, which I’m pretty good at. Everyone kind of compliments me on that the most. Always to be nice to everyone, because that’s what’s really important. People remember that; they remember the meeting: ‘Was she nice, was she not so nice?’ I try to keep her humble.”

Still, she admits that you can’t be nice to everyone, and reveals that when a rapper tried to come for her daughter she supported her sticking up for herself:

“I was driving, and Skai said, ‘Mom, I said something on Twitter.’ And I said, ‘Okay, what did you say?’ Because I could tell by her face that she knew that there was going to be some backlash. She told me right away.”

Skai’s comments came in response to rapper Azealia Banks making some pretty offensive comments about a member of One Direction, a band Skai was obsessed with at the time. The Disney star simply told Banks to “simmer down.”

Cole says in the beginning she was angry for her daughter putting herself in that position, but says she learned something from the experience:

“I was angry, to be honest. I told her, ‘You should have never done that,’ because I heard of the girl, and I was very aware of how this girl responded to others on Twitter, which was really ugly. So I said to her, ‘I know this is going to come back at you, and hard.’”

“At first, I told Skai not to respond. I said, ‘Don’t respond at all.’ But then when I saw the stuff she was saying, and then when she brought me into it, I gave Skai free range to respond. I felt like, at that point, Skai had to stick up for herself, because Azealia Banks had put some falsified things on there, so Skai felt like she wanted to clear a couple of things up. So I did give her permission to respond when I saw some of the things that Azealia had said.”

“I told her, ‘Never again.’ Let that be a learning lesson. Thankfully, it worked out better in Skai’s favor than it did for Azealia, but that’s few and far between that a situation that works out like that. So I just told her, ‘It could have went the wrong way for you, so let that be a lesson learned to never respond. It’s not your fight.’”

“I think Skai felt the need to speak up because she felt Azealia was a bully. I told her, ‘Come to me first, but don’t ever just respond on your own, or respond to anyone else like that again.’”

Cole is clear about one thing. She’ll always be around to support her daughter, but when it comes to handling business, she’s preparing Skai to take the reins:

“I’ll still be there to guide her, but I’m giving her the tools and the steps now to make sure she’s able to handle her career on her own by the time she’s 20.”

We love how open and honest Cole is about black motherhood. You can read the interview in its entirety here.


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