Jaafar Jackson, the 26-year-old nephew of Michael Jackson, is stepping into the late singer’s moonwalking shoes as he portrays the King of Pop in Lionsgate’s upcoming biopic Michael, directed by Antoine Fuqua and produced by Graham King.
“It’s incredibly exciting to watch Jaafar bring Michael to life,” Fuqua said in a statement to Variety. “There was such a spiritual connection when I first met Jaafar, who has a natural ability to emulate Michael and such a great chemistry with the camera.”
Jaafar was selected for the role after a worldwide casting search was conducted, of which King — whose credits include 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody starring Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury — said, “It was clear that he is the only person to take on this role.”
King met Jaafar over two years ago and was “blown away by the way he organically personifies the spirit and personality of Michael,” King told Variety. “I am beyond thrilled that he has come on board to portray his uncle and cannot wait for the world to see him on the big screen as Michael Jackson.”
According to the studio, the biopic will explore all aspects of the late icon’s life, “including his most iconic performances that led him to become the greatest entertainer of all time.” In addition to detailing his legacy, it also won’t shy away from Michael’s controversies, according to Deadline.
While there is no official release date for Michael, the outlet notes that principal photography will begin in 2023.
Between his professional past and his personal background, here’s everything to know about Jaafar.
His dad is Jermaine Jackson, Michael Jackson’s brother
Jaafar is the son of Jermaine Jackson and Alejandra Genevieve Oaziaza. The couple, who was married from 1995 to 2003, welcomed Jaafar in July 1996. Jermaine is a singer, songwriter and producer best known for being a member of the Jackson 5 alongside his brother Michael.
He’s a rising singer
Jaafar has been singing and dancing since age 12, according to Deadline, and has showcased himself covering artists such as Sam Cooke to Marvin Gaye, along with originals. In 2019, he released his first single, “Got Me Singing,” along with a music video that displays his talents.
Michael will mark his acting debut
Jaafar is no stranger to the screen, having appeared in a number of family-oriented projects over the years, including 2015’s The Jacksons: Next Generation and Tito Jackson’s 2021 music video “Love One Another.”
But Michael marks Jaafar’s acting debut. “It’s incredibly exciting to watch Jaafar bring Michael to life,” Fuqua told Variety. “There was such a spiritual connection when I first met Jaafar, who has a natural ability to emulate Michael and such a great chemistry with the camera.”
He has the approval of Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine
Jaafar already has the stamp of approval from the person who knows Michael best: his mom. Katherine, the King of Pop’s mother, said that Jaafar “embodies” her son. “It’s so wonderful to see him carry on the Jackson legacy of entertainers and performers,” she told The Hollywood Reporter.
He’s ‘honored’ to play Michael Jackson
On Jan. 30, Jaafar upload a photo to his Instagram announcing the Michael casting news. “I’m humbled and honored to bring my Uncle Michael’s story to life,” he captioned a black and white image of himself striking the late singer’s iconic pose. “To all the fans all over the world, I’ll see you soon,” he added.