When Elizabeth Taylor died in 2011, her goddaughter, Paris Jackson—daughter of Michael, who had died not even two years earlier—was only 12 years old. But Paris, now an actress, model, and activist, has not found it difficult to put her godmother’s influence to good work. Paris is now an ambassador for the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (E.T.A.F.), which the actress founded in 1991 and which funds organizations worldwide that support comprehensive sexual-health education, HIV criminalization reform, and more.
On Monday night, following performances by Brandi Carlile,Heart’s Nancy Wilson,Tom Morello, and Michael Moore,Paris spoke to a crowd at Global Citizen Live in New York City (part of the ongoing Global Citizen Week about how her godmother’s vision for worldwide social justice shapes her own. The 19-year-old recently traveled to Malawi, where she visited those who benefit from E.T.A.F.’s work and services. And Jackson, who called out “Nazi white-supremacist jerks” during her appearance at the V.M.A.searlier this month, told the crowd that she takes inspiration from her godmother’s own activist history.
“She was passionate, she was outspoken,” Paris said. “She was a real badass . . . So, here we are 30 years later, living under a president who lost the popular vote and has proven himself to have the compassion and empathy of a dead flashlight battery. His budget proposes slashing health-care funding for HIV and AIDS worldwide. So, now here I am hearing my godmother’s voice urging me to be heard and not allow all that’s been accomplished in finding a cure to fall by the wayside.”
Backstage, Paris told Vanity Fair how Taylor’s work inspired her to take on her own activist projects.
“It’s very rare that you see someone with that kind of influence really use their platform for something so important and just her passion for change . . . On top of that, [Elizabeth] was one of the most genuine human beings of all time,” she said.
Taylor’s “AIDS crusade,” as V.F. called it in 1992, didn’t begin until later in her career. But Paris, who is set to make her feature-film debut in next year’s Gringo, aims to get a significant jump on that work now.
“As an activist, I find it really important to take on different sections in what is making our world so difficult to live in,” she said. “I kind of want to touch on every single [topic] as much as I can, which is why I’m starting so young, so hopefully, by the time I’m, like, 50, I’ll have touched on every single thing that I can.”