Host Alex Cooper notes similarities to Britney's conservatorship when Jamie Lynn talks being so controlled by her family's "team" during her pregnancy that she sought legal emancipation.
It was the similarities to Britney Spears’ more recent experiences under her conservatorship that stood out for host Alex Cooper as Jamie Lynn Spears sat down to talk about her upcoming book, “Things I Should Have Said,” out Tuesday.
Not that Jamie Lynn ever had to endure years of control like that, but during her pregnancy as a teenager, she details a similar lack of control in her own affairs, inexplicable decisions that not only made no sense to her but that she wasn’t even sure where they were coming from.
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In Jamie Lynn’s case, things took a turn when she finally looked into getting legally emancipated from her parents. With that threat looming and knowing that her “loophole” alternate option would jeopardize the money she’d earned to that point, her family agreed to let her step out on her own and regain some control of her life.
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The emancipation that almost was is just one of the topics Jamie Lynn talked about — or skillfully evaded — during the first part of her interview with Cooper for her “Call Her Daddy Podcast.” The second part drops Wednesday and will get into the nitty gritty of Britney’s conservatorship and what Jamie Lynn did or didn’t do during it.
Other topics included the infamous knife story, which Britney has publicly denied, as well as Britney’s very public breakdown when she shaved her head. Several times, Cooper asked about money and whether or not any of Jamie Lynn’s earned money was going to her parents.
Jamie Lynn also opened up about how she considered Justin Timberlake a father figure in her life, and why she “was so sad” when Britney and Justin called it quits. Britney came up a lot in the interview, but Jamie Lynn often seemed to be backing down from even what’s in the book, or at least not offering any sort of elaboration.
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Evading (Talking About) Britney
We won’t go so far as to say she avoids talking about her sister, although she rarely (if ever) actually mentioned Britney’s name — we can’t recall a time, but with Part 1 clocking in at over an hour, it’s possible we missed one — but she definitely avoids getting into the weeds on topics she brings up in her books.
At one point in the book, Jamie Lynn writes of Britney, that she was “old enough to recognize destructive behavior similar to our father’s.” But when Cooper asked her about Britney’s “debilitating exhaustion,” as Jamie Lynn phrased it, and what she noticed, Jamie Lynn backed way down from that language.
“She was wanting to escape us a little bit more, and when I say us, I mean my family, which is normal,” she said. “She was that age.” She went on to say Britney wanted to hang with friends, that she was at her “party stage” of life, all of which was perfectly “fine.”
“I just remember feeling selfishly like her center of the universe, maybe like her daughter, her kid, whatever you want to call it and I thought it would always be that way,” she said. “And then I just felt like things were uneasy, it just wasn’t that way anymore.”
So rather than “destructive behavior” as phrased in the book, or even “debilitating exhaustion,” Jamie Lynn’s story was about a younger sister missing her older sister as she becomes a teenager and starts to spend more time hanging out with her friends.
Even the infamous knife story from her book seemed to come with a caveat. While she mostly was determined in her recollection of the story, she did at one point say, “I think people need to remember, I’m telling this story about what I experienced, no matter who that person was that pulled me in that room, you have to understand that was an experience I went through that’s really scary, and I felt really unsafe.”
In other words, it wouldn’t have mattered if it was Britney or her mother or a total stranger, it was scary for Jamie Lynn. But she has no idea anything beyond that, or even why Britney was supposedly scared (this was following her short-lived Vegas marriage).
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Jamie Lynn’s point seemed to be to emphasize that this had very little to do with Britney as much as it had to do with her feeling scared and confused and she’s allowed to have that experience. She said that for most of her life she “was not allowed to have feelings about anything, like shut up, that’s fine, whatever, we’re not going to make a big deal out of this.”
And so she did, but now she’s seeing incidents like this and others that impacted her emotionally as truly defining moments in her life. Just not ones that she can explain with any real definition — if she bothers to go into it at all.
When asked what Britney might have been going through in that moment, with the benefit of hindsight, Jamie Lynn said, “I think that this was a brilliant young woman who was going through a hard time. If she couldn’t stand up for herself, then somebody should have. I wasn’t an adult then, I couldn’t. Somebody should have said, stop the f—— presses, give this girl a minute.”
Later, she was asked about what she meant when she referred to noticing Britney’s “episodes,” as we got closer to her very public breakdown. As close as Jamie Lynn would come to talking directly about it was to say, “There was understandably a lot she was dealing with. Who would be perfect?”
She then shifted tactics to her own perspective, saying she assumed things would go back to normal “once all this shit stops.” She added, “It’s not my place to speak on what someone else is dealing with or how they’re dealing with it. But I am allowed to say how things affect me and they did affect me and that shouldn’t be diminished.”
That seemed to be her adage throughout the interview, as she repeatedly defended her mother and sister and spoke only vaguely about her father. Mostly, though, it was a revelation of how much Jamie Lynn either didn’t know or didn’t remember about her life even as she was putting the book together.
When Cooper pointed out that at one point, even in the media it was touted that the Spears sisters are thriving, with Britney the queen of pop and Jamie Lynn making her mark on television. “I guess I forget that,” Jamie Lynn noted sadly. This was, of course, before Britney’s public break.
It would seem that Jamie Lynn’s plea to Britney to stop airing their feud publicly was taken to heart as she very pointedly kept things vague and cordial and at times deflected with politician-level skill from very direct questions to avoid getting into Britney particulars. She also doesn’t seem to recall a lot of things, making us wonder if the book is a lot of incomplete fragments (like the knife story or even the story of her calling her brother after her mom hit her with her purse — there isn’t even any closure as to what her brother said).
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She came to her sister’s defense again when talking about Justin Timberlake, whom she described as like an early father figure for her. “I was so sad,” Jamie Lynn said over and over again when asked how hard it was for her when Britney and Justin broke up. She was nine years old at the time.
While she didn’t have a lot of understanding at the time as to what had happened there, media reports at the time suggested that Britney had been unfaithful. Jamie Lynn doesn’t seem to be so sure about that.
“I truly do not know, but I just think about it this way,” she said when asked if she knew what happened. “Imagine you’re in high school, except you’ve got all the money and fame in the world. Could you imagine if you talk to another girl, text another girl, could you imagine if you were, like, criminalized for that whole thing, like, how dare you?”
“No, first off, I’m young, it’s what every other kid my age is doing,” she continued. “Why am I being held to a different standard?”
She thinks she has such fond memories of Justin because “that was probably the best time in my whole family’s life.” She also admits that with her own father struggling with alcoholism and not there for her in a meaningful way, “being around my sister’s boyfriends, it imitated what I felt was, like, safe.”
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Shaved Britney, Pregnant Jamie Lynn
2007 was a tumultuous year for the Spears family, beginning with Britney’s very public breakdown that culminated in her shaving her head and ultimately led to her being placed under a conservatorship the following year.
At the same time, Jamie Lynn found out she was pregnant, leaving the family and their mysterious “team” to tackle two crises on two different fronts. What’s interesting is that Jamie Lynn seems to have very little recollection of this pivotal year. In part, she was 16 and pregnant so had a lot on her mind, and in part because it was so crazy.
This is where Cooper really noticed some startling parallels, as Jamie Lynn said her parents divided their forces to deal with their famous daughters. While Jamie worked with Britney, which resulted in her conservatorshi under his control, Lynne and the family “team” worked with Jamie Lynn, with their first order to try and keep the story under wraps.
Why was that so important? “Because they didn’t want anyone to know. That was kind of the motto of our life,” said Jamie Lynn. “And I don’t think all of this came from a horrible place. I think some of it was to protect– They did not want things out there that possibly could hurt us.”
Even then, Jamie Lynn said she didn’t understand why the team was even a part of this situation. “I do think at that point, my mom was so checked out…she just was like allowing the team to kind of– She just wanted someone to help make it better,” she noted. “I was like, this should be a family matter, why do we have a team here? But at the same time, that was our world.”
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It was this “team” that she credited with the craziness to follow, when she was sent to a cabin someplace a few hours outside of New York City — she doesn’t exactly know — where she had to share a bed with her mom for a few weeks. But even now, there’s so much about it she doesn’t remember and maybe never knew.
“Who was making these decisions, I don’t know?” she said, feeling that her mother was also trying to appease and just go along with it. “I know I paid for the house because I know exactly how much it cost; it was not cheap. Whose idea really was it?”
She wondered why she and her mother didn’t just pack up an leave. Her mother was an adult. But for some reason, that never happened. Another thing that never happened was anyone cluing Britney in to what was happening with her little sister.
At the same time, Jamie Lynn had no idea what was going on with Britney. Both sisters would learn about the other through the tabloids during this time. In fact, Jamie Lynn says it was a high school friend who (perhaps somewhat gleefully) shared with her the images of Britney with her shaved head.
She also remembered that in the immediate aftermath, neither of her parents were there as both were in crisis mode with Britney. “They were there trying to help her, and so I was by myself and I had to pretend like it didn’t bother me,” she recalled. “I don’t even remember talking to them about it. … I guess I just acted like it wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was a huge deal obviously.”
Admitting she doesn’t remember a lot from that period, she said, “This part in my life I think I just disconnected myself from it. … There were things that I see to this day that I’m like I don’t remember those pictures, I don’t remember those things.”
While both of her parents were with her in the immediate aftermath of her pregnancy discovery, Jamie Lynn says her father left when she resisted the urging and pushing from the family and the “team” to consider abortion. According to Jamie Lynn, he told her, ““Fine, do whatever the f— you want!” And then he left to focus on Britney, leaving Lynne to deal with her.
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The parallel to Britney’s loss of control came into focus a bit more for Cooper when Jamie Lynn talked about wondering why she was still so much under the thumb of this team if it was originally all about keeping her pregnancy a secret and yet the story was out there.
“I thought the reason y’all are keeping me locked away like a princess is because of the story. Well, the story is out, everybody knows I’m pregnant,” she said. “So what are we doing now? Why am I still being monitored like this?”
She said that she only ever heard from Lynne about what the plan was in regards to her and her life, “but I know that she’s being controlled and she doesn’t want to upset anybody.”
“I don’t know who to blame there, I don’t know if there is anybody to blame, I just know what I experienced,” she added. “I knew that I wasn’t allowed to do certain things.”
One of those things was start to look for a house of her own, because she didn’t want to still be living with Lynne when she had her child. But the team had decided against it, determining it was better for her to stay home.
And so, she decided to look into legal emancipation. After finding out everything about it, she had the papers drawn up and it was when she presented them to her parents — as well as the legal loophole she thinks involved maybe marrying the father of her child (though without a prenup) — she said that the concern of her possibly losing her money through the loophole convinced them to compromise.
There would be no emancipation, but they’d let her set up her own house and control her own finances and affairs, only stepping in if she got into serious trouble. So while her story isn’t nearly as controlled as Britney’s became, there were enough eerie parallels happening at the same time for Cooper to point it out.
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I Must Confess
The publisher called it a “premature” error in a statement to E! News over the summer, and Jamie Lynn reiterated that her book was never intended to be named after lyrics from the song that launched Britney’s career.
“That was never the title,” she said. “That was a mishap that happened where that was just something they put, kind of, for no one to really grab reference of my book and then somehow or another it was leaked that that was actually my book title.”
So was it a joke title that someone internally put on the book just as a placeholder until she titled it that somehow made its way public? We may never know.
As part of its statement, Hachette Book Group wrote, “We deeply regret that incorrect and incomplete information about her book has appeared in the public space, particularly at this sensitive time for Jamie Lynn and her family.”
The release came as Britney was accusing her family of trading on her fame. Jamie Lynn has repeatedly, and here again, emphasized that she never took or borrowed money from her sister.
Even after her pregnancy when she wasn’t working, she noted that the check from OK! Magazine for exclusive rights to the announcement wasn’t small, nor were the checks for her starring role in “Zoey 101.” In other words, she was doing just fine financially at that point in her life.
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Finding Her Own Voice
For Jamie Lynn, even though the book shares stories about growing up as Britney’s sister and Britney comes up a lot in these interviews, the real journey for her in writing the book and telling her story is about finding her own voice. Because for many years, she felt like she didn’t have one, or no one cared to hear it.
“I was never allowed to say anything or do anything that would possibly put my sister in a bad light,” she said at one point, emphasizing that she loves Britney, but “sisters are sisters.” “I was never allowed to control my own narrative or have my own voice unless it was, like, in line with everything.”
She compared herself to a dinghy being pulled along in the wake of a much larger ship, which was clearly Britney and her career and how all she felt she could do was just “survive” being pulled along.
“I cant help that I loved acting, too,” she said. “And I don’t know why, why can’t two sisters exist in their own right. We never compared each other, the world did. We never had that dynamic or that issue.”
“It’s like, my whole life I kind of felt like I didn’t matter,” she said, getting emotional. “So, it’s like, I just wish that I mattered.”
In fact, she said she never had any issues with jealousy as Britney’s fame reached stratospheric heights, like some would accuse her of. “Her hard work was nothing but an inspiration to me,” she said. “What do you mean jealous? I got to experience watching a woman take over the f—— world. How can you be jealous of that? How can you have anything but complete admiration for it?”
Part 2 of Alex Cooper’s chat with Jamie Lynn Spears on “Call Her Daddy” drops Wednesday on Spotify.
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