Janet Damita Jo Jackson (born May 16, 1966) is an American recording artist and actress. Born in Gary, Indiana and raised in Encino, Los Angeles, California, she is the youngest child of the Jackson family of musicians. She first performed on stage with her family beginning at the age of seven, and later started her career as an actress with the variety television series The Jacksons in 1976. She went on to star in other television shows throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, including Good Times and Diff'rent Strokes.
At age sixteen in 1982, Jackson signed a recording contract with A&M, releasing her self-titled debut album the same year. She faced criticism for her limited vocal range, and for being yet another member of the Jackson family to become a recording artist. Beginning with her third studio album Control (1986), Jackson began a long-term collaboration with record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Her music with Jam and Lewis incorporated contemporary R&B with elements of rap music, sample loop, triple swing and industrial beats, which led to crossover appeal in popular music. In addition to receiving recognition for the innovation in her albums, music videos and choreography, Jackson was acknowledged as a role model for her socially conscious lyrics.
In 1991, she signed the first of two record-breaking, multi-million dollar recording contracts with Virgin Records, which established her as one of the highest paid artists in the recording industry. Her debut album under the Virgin label, janet. (1993), saw Jackson develop a public image as a sex symbol as she began to explore sexuality in her music. That same year she appeared in her first starring film role in Poetic Justice; since then she has continued to act in feature films. By the end of the decade Jackson was named the second most successful recording artist of the 1990s. All for You (2001), became her fifth consecutive studio album to debut at number one the Billboard 200 album charts. In 2007, she changed labels, signing with the Island Def Jam Music Group and released her tenth studio album Discipline the following year.
Jackson is ranked by Billboard magazine as one of the top ten best-selling music artists in the history of contemporary music, having sold over 100 million albums worldwide. The Recording Industry Association of America lists her as the eleventh best-selling female artist in the United States with 26 million certified albums. Jackson's longevity in the recording industry has rivaled that of several entertainers and her musical style and choreography have influenced a number of contemporary pop and R&B artists.