Fact Check

Real First Photo of Jaafar Jackson from the Michael Jackson Biopic?

The music icon's nephew plays him in an upcoming movie about his life.

Published Feb. 14, 2024

 (Kevin Mazur/Lionsgate)
Image courtesy of Kevin Mazur/Lionsgate
A photograph authentically shows Jaafar Jackson, nephew of singer Michael Jackson, in character as his uncle for an upcoming film.

On Feb. 13, 2024, a photograph purportedly showing singer Jaafar Jackson in character as his iconic uncle, Michael Jackson, went viral. Jaafar Jackson, who is the son of Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine Jackson, was hired to play the late singer in a biopic titled "Michael" that is set to be released in 2025.  

The photograph claimed to show the young actor and singer looking almost exactly like his uncle in an outfit that recreated Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" look from his 1992-93 Dangerous Tour. 

First Image of Jaafar Jackson as Michael Jackson in Biopic 'Michael'
byu/MarvelsGrantMan136 inmovies

The above photo is indeed a real image from the upcoming biopic about Michael Jackson. It was released on the verified social media accounts of Lionsgate, the production company behind the film, and Antoine Fuqua, who is directing the movie. As such, we rate this claim as "True."

In the image caption on Instagram, Fuqua wrote, "Your first look at #MichaelMovie. Starring Jaafar Jackson — in theaters April 2025. Photograph by the renowned photographer Kevin Mazur, who documented Michael's final rehearsal, and is now the first to photograph Jaafar in character as Michael."

Lionsgate's official X account posted the same message.

The image was published in reliable entertainment news outlets including Variety and Deadline.

Producer Graham King said in a statement about the movie: "With Jaafar, every look, every note, every dance move is Michael. He embodies Michael in a way that no other actor could."

Fuqua added: "We have assembled an incredible team of artists for this project — hair and makeup, costumes, cinematography, choreography, lighting, everything — and some who knew and worked with Michael are reuniting for this film. But most importantly, it's Jaafar who embodies Michael. It goes beyond the physical resemblance. It's Michael's spirit that comes through in a magical way. You have to experience it to believe it."

Mazur frequently photographed Michael Jackson during his tours in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as his rehearsals for his "This is it" concerts. He shot the last images of the performer rehearsing just days before Jackson's death in 2009 at the age of 50.  


D'Alessandro, Anthony. "First Photo From Michael Jackson Biopic 'Michael' Unveiled As King Of Pop's Nephew Takes The Stage." Deadline, 13 Feb. 2024, https://deadline.com/2024/02/michael-jackson-biopic-michael-jaafar-jackson-first-image-1235824152/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2024.

Galuppo, Mia. "Michael Jackson's Nephew Jaafar Jackson to Play Him in Biopic." The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Jan. 2023, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/michael-jacksons-nephew-jaafar-jackson-cast-in-biopic-1235312754/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2024.

"Michael Jackson Was Set To Wow Fans, Says Photographer." Peoplemag, https://people.com/celebrity/michael-jackson-was-set-to-wow-fans-says-photographer/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2024.

Moreau, Jordan. "Michael Jackson's Nephew Recreates the King of Pop's Iconic Dangerous Tour in 'Michael' Biopic First Look." Variety, 13 Feb. 2024, https://variety.com/2024/film/news/michael-jackson-movie-first-look-1235909338/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2024.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.