Jamie Lynn Spears Says She Was Treated Like "Worst Human Alive" for Leaving Hollywood
The Zoey 101 star abandoned the spotlight after becoming pregnant at 16.
Britney Spears was a tabloid fixture in the '00s, and amid her child stardom, her younger sister started's behavior was dissected in headlines too. In 2007, Jamie Lynn Spears announced that she was pregnant. At the time, she was 16 years old and starring on the Nickelodeon show Zoey 101. The young actor subsequently decided to leave Hollywood and go off the grid almost completely for several years to welcome and raise her child. In a new interview, Spears, now 32, opened up about her choice to leave the spotlight and being treated as "the worst human alive" by the media for having a baby so young. Read on to learn more.
She was accused of being a horrible role model for her young fans.
When Spears guested on the July 26 episode of Better Tomorrow with Hannah Brown, she spoke about leaving acting behind after finding out she was pregnant.
"That was something I took responsibility for the way that made sense for me," Spears said (via Page Six). "That doesn't make sense for everyone else, but it made sense for me and the whole world came down and told me I was the worst human alive for doing so and that every young girl who ever watched my show was going to be ruined because of me and my personal decision."
She moved to a small town and got rid of her cell phone.
Spears also shared why she decided to move to the "middle of nowhere" in Mississippi, where she was born, to raise her daughter, Maddie, with her now-ex Casey Aldridge.
She described being "in a small town and going into a store [where the clerk] who's checking you out doesn't care about who you are, what you're doing or who's taking your picture, she's trying to get home to her kids."
She continued (via People), "Interacting with people like that on a daily basis makes you have a much different outlook whenever a newspaper writes a bad headline about you that's not true. Like, you know what, that doesn't matter. These are the people that matter."
Spears also said that she got rid of her cell phone and limited her spending significantly. "I didn't have a cell phone, I had a house phone," she said. "I was like, 'No one call me,' [and] I put myself on a budget. I had a budget for, like, 10 years that I lived very strictly by and I just wanted to be normal and I just really wanted to be away [from the public eye]."
At the time, she said her pregnancy forced her to grow up.
Spears received major backlash for becoming a young mom 15 years ago. Some accused her of being the reason Zoey 101 was canceled, though the series was already ending anyway.
At the time that she announced her pregnancy publicly, Spears said that she was handling the situation the best way that she could, despite the unplanned nature of it.
"I can't say it was something I was planning to do right now," she told OK! magazine "But now that it's in my lap and that it's something I have to deal with, I'm looking forward to being the best mom I can be."
She continued, "I'm the one who has to live with it for the rest of my life. I put myself in this position, an adult position, so I have to act like an adult and take responsibility for what I did."
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She felt pressure from her family, too.
In her 2022 memoir, Spears opened up about being pressured by members of her family and her team to either have an abortion or give her baby up for adoption. This was before her pregnancy was announced publicly, and once she made it clear she wanted to keep her child, she was kept isolated, so the news wouldn't be leaked.
"I was banished and basically hidden away. Misery and loneliness persisted. Those feelings intensified when the team decided Momma and I should be moved from our house to a secure location far away until OK! released the story," she wrote (via People). "Supported by our security team, my mom and I traveled to Connecticut, or so I was told, to an undisclosed location. We flew into New York and then drove for what felt like hours. To this day I'm not sure where in the Northeast we hid."
She explained that she and her mother, Lynne Spears, drove 22 hours to their home in Louisiana because going to an airport was "out of the question." I was uncomfortable and tried to sleep most of the way home. And still the isolation continued. This was a painful time for me," she wrote.
She doesn't regret her decision.
In an interview with Variety earlier this month, Spears explained that she returned to the entertainment industry in order to support her daughter.
"I put up a gate, put myself on a budget and said, 'I'm gonna raise my baby back here.' And that's what I did for a while," she said. "But I also wanted to show her that I could provide for her future and that I could continue on to be what I wanted to be. Bringing her into my life was not something that I regret or held me back."
Spears eventually moved to Nashville where she worked as a songwriter. She's also released her own music. More recently, she returned to acting. Since 2020, she has had a role on the Netflix series Sweet Magnolias. And Zoey 102, a sequel movie to her Nickelodeon series, just premiered on Paramount+.
As for her personal life, Spears is a mother of two. In addition to Maddie, now 15, she has a five-year-old daughter, Ivey Joan, with her husband since 2014, Jamie Watson.
She's proud that her children see her working today.
Spears said on Better Tomorrow that she works not only to provide for her children financially but also to inspire them.
"I am just so thankful my 15-year-old daughter gets to see her mother working and doing what she loves," she said. "Every time somebody gives me a job, they're giving my little girl something to look up to. [She] gets to see her mom working and succeeding, when I was told I wasn't going to."