Skai Jackson may be best known for her role as spunky, little Zuri on Disney’s Jessie and Bunk'd, but in reality the actress is a social media teen queen, and while she’s not so little anymore, she’s definitely got plenty of spunk IRL too. At just 16 years old she’s already had a viral meme worthy of the Internet Hall of Fame and is an anti-bullying champion silencing one troll at a time with witty clapbacks that makes us ROTF. Not to mention, she delivers red carpet slays like a pro.
However, her latest slay was on the runway at the American Heart Association's Go Red For Women Red Dress Collection presented by Macy's last night (Feb. 7), where she worked the catwalk in a fiery number by Carolina Herrera for New York Fashion Week among other stars like rapper Eve and Kylie Jenner's BFF, Jordyn Woods.
BET Digital caught up with Skai to talk about her first grown-up runway, why her fake death was a Twitter trend this week and her thoughts on fellow Disney alum Demi Lovato’s 21 Savage backlash.
BET: What inspired you to link up with American Heart Association’s "Go Red For Women" and walk the runway for their show during NYFW?
Skai Jackson: I feel like this is just such an amazing cause and something that’s not really talked about a lot, so if I could be a voice for that, that’s just an amazing thing for me. This is my first year walking the show, and all my fellow peers are here, which is awesome, so I’m just really excited. This isn’t my first time walking on the runway, but there’s always this nervous feeling that I have, so I just can’t wait to do it.
B: So this isn’t your first runway?
SJ: This is like my third one. I did one when I was like 5, and then I did one like a year ago and then here’s another one!
B: Will you be checking out any of the other shows during New York Fashion Week?
SJ: I’m not going to do any other shows this round. I mean, I was here in September for New York Fashion Week, and it’s just so much. And plus, it’s pilot season in LA, and you know I’m really trying to book another job right now, so I’ll skip out this time around.
B: Any favorite shows you hit last time you did NYFW?
SJ: There was just so many, I can’t even remember. But Escada was one of my favorites. That was amazing, but my favorite thing was that I just played around with the hair and makeup a lot. So I had pink hair, green hair, red hair—just like the whole rainbow.
B: You’re already legendary on Twitter for your classy clapbacks, but recently you had to call out folks for the trending hashtag #RIPSKaiJackson. What was it like debunking your own death? And how did the hashtag come to your attention?
SJ: I woke up and I just saw all these things, like "RIP Skai Jackson," and I’m like, "Why do people think I’m dead? Like, what happened? Where did this come from?" And then one of my fans told me it was some girl who started it. And for me, that’s just like not funny at all. Like I’ve seen "Rest In Peace" [on social media] to one of my friends that recently passed away who was famous and then two months later he actually passed away, so [when people say] things like that, I just hate it. People think it’s a joke and maybe for them it is, but that’s just not cool. Don’t play with death like that. They thought it was a joke, I didn’t.
It was just crazy when I first found out about it. I went on my Twitter and saw all these people mentioning me with #RIPSkaiJackson, and then I searched the hashtag and saw there was over 200 tweets for it. So I was trying to get to the bottom of who started this, and one of my fans said it was this one girl who does it to everyone. She apologized, but it’s like you should have never done that in the first place. I have a great sense of humor, I mean even when my meme came out I reposted it. I didn’t care. I was laughing, too! But death is just one thing you NEVER play with.
B: You’ve probably heard former Disney star and anti-bully advocate Demi Lovato recently quit Twitter after backlash from a comment she made about laughing at 21 Savage memes regarding his pending deportation. What are your thoughts on the situation?
SJ: From my understanding she was just laughing at the memes that everyone was laughing at, not what happened to him. I get it, but people are so sensitive, I feel like she shouldn’t have said anything especially because it is such a sensitive thing and he could get deported. That’s just not a funny topic. But then I’m thinking that everyone else was laughing at this stuff, so I mean…
She shouldn’t have done it, but I just feel like she didn’t have bad intentions. But I do support him and I feel like this shouldn’t be happening to him. I think it’s terrible, and they should let him free.
B: And since at this point you’re a pro dealing with internet trolls, any advice you’d give her?
SJ: I mean she deleted her Twitter account, and people were like, that she’s running away, but nah. Sometimes you need that time away to disconnect from social media. Social media can really just be a terrible thing sometimes, and people don’t really understand that.
There’s been times were I’m good for like a week [off of social media], like I don’t want to see my phone or anything. But in her case, just try to block out the hate and get off social media. That’s what you have managers and stuff for. Have them post for you. [laughs]
(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for AHA)