Following big sis Britney into entertainment, Jamie Lynn Spears first appeared on TV at the tender age of 11. Success and fame for the Louisiana child star came from roles on the Nickelodeon series “All That” and “Zoey 101.” Then, everything changed.
Pregnant at 16 with then-boyfriend Casey Aldridge’s baby, the younger Spears dropped out of the spotlight, giving birth to Maddie Briann in 2008. Fast-forward to 2016, and Jamie Lynn, at 25, is married to Hammond businessman Jamie Watson, raising her daughter and building another career in country music.
“I’m not just a child star, and I’m not just someone’s sister, and I’m not just a teen mom,” she says in TLC’s “Jamie Lynn Spears: When the Lights Go Out.” “For the first time, this is the real story.”
The one-hour special — its title comes from one of Jamie Lynn’s songs — addresses the Kentwood native’s past but also focuses on where the 20-something is today. She’s got the music in her, she tells viewers.
“I put my heart, my soul, I’ve got everything in it,” she says, as she rehearses a song she’ll sing on the Grand Ole Opry stage.
In advance of Sunday’s show, here’s Spears’ interview — through email — with The Advocate.
Congratulations on the TLC special. What do you want viewers to take away from it?
Thank you. I hope they really get to meet me as an adult for the first time. I was introduced to the world as a child, so it’ll be nice to introduce myself to the world as a mother and an artist for the first time.
How is your country music career going? What is the status of the new album due out this year? And what can fans expect from the album?
It’s going really well. I have a lot of new stuff that I’m about to release. My single, “Sleepover,” comes out June 24 just before the special on June 26. So you can expect a lot of fun and a lot of new content.
Do you still divide time between Nashville and home? And where is home when you’re back in Louisiana? And how’s married life?
Yes, Nashville will forever be my second home. Married life is good, we live about 45 minutes north of New Orleans (in the Hammond area).
Maddie is 8. How’s she doing? What does she think about Mommy’s singing? And do you foresee her some day wanting a career in entertainment?
I’m hoping she’ll go more of the doctor route, but she enjoys it. And we love being able to travel together, and I love being able to share my work with her.
You recently appeared on the Grand Ole Opry stage. How was that experience and how do you think you were received?
It was amazing. I think anytime you step on that stage, it’s humbling, and you don’t take it for granted. Overall, it was an amazing experience, and they are always so kind at the Opry.
Your TV start was at a young age. Do you feel like you missed out on part of your childhood? And what advice would you give to parents whose children want to be entertainers?
I think just like everything in life, there’s pros and cons. I feel like I learned a lot about responsibility and work ethic at a young age, so I don’t look at it as that I missed out on anything; I look at what I gained from it, which is a lot of experience and good memories.
How often do you get to spend time with Britney? What do you girls like to do together?
As often as our schedules and our kids’ schedules allow, and usually we try not to leave the house. We like to just hang out at home.
Where do you hope to be in five years, professionally and personally?
Professionally, I hope to be playing music to the fans that I love. And personally, I hope to be on a big piece of land with people I love.
What was the process in deciding to pursue country music?
It wasn’t a decision, it was something that organically happened when I decided to start writing music. It was a choice the music made, not me.
Who are your musical influences, and what other well-known performers have you worked with?
I would say I was inspired a lot by the Dixie Chicks, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks. I was a co-writer on Jana Kramer’s last single (“I Got the Boy”), so it was great to work with another successful woman in country music.
Follow Judy Bergeron on Twitter, @judybergeronbr.