Five years ago, Jamie Lynn Spears was best known for two things -- her role on the Nickelodeon hit kids' series "Zoey 101," and for being pop sensation Britney Spears' little sister. And then, almost overnight, she began making headlines for something very different: becoming a pregnant teenager.
After giving birth to now-3-and-a-half-year-old daughter Maddie in June 2008, Spears more or less disappeared from the spotlight, choosing to quietly raise her child in Mississippi, not far from her hometown in Louisiana. Now, two months shy of her 21st birthday, Spears opens up to Glamour magazine in a rare interview and looks back on the choices she made as a 16-year-old and how they changed her life forever.
"After we wrapped shooting [for the season in 2007], I just wanted to go home to Louisiana and finish high school, be a cheerleader, all that. Then I found out I was pregnant. I was 16. I'd had one boyfriend," she shares in the magazine's March issue. "It doesn't make it perfect or all right. But I was judged for something that probably most everyone does. I was young. I was in love. I was like every other teenager, except I had this last name. And I made a decision that is forever my decision."
At the time, the actress became the center of a media firestorm , with paparazzi following her and the baby's father, then-boyfriend Casey Aldridge, everywhere. Parents' groups outraged that the star of a show aimed at young girls was setting a dangerous example and many others accused the media of making teen pregnancy look glamorous. Then "Zoey 101" was abruptly canceled. It all added up to a mound of guilt and hurt for the frightened teenager.
"To have the world come down on a situation that was already affecting my family hugely was hard," Spears confesses in the article. "I did feel responsible for the young girls and the mothers who I probably confused and let down. I apologize for that. But I wasn't trying to glamorize teen pregnancy. I hated when [the tabloids] said that. Everybody is dealt a hand of cards. It was my choice to play them the way I played them. But the hateful comments hurt."
And of course, there were the comments that were more curious than hurtful, like those about why the young woman with a skyrocketing career had unprotected sex in the first place.
"I believe in safety and birth control as prevention. But like many young girls...I was really scared to go to the doctor," Spears admits. "And I was on a Nickelodeon show, and it [felt] especially embarrassing to ask someone to put me on birth control. I didn't want to ask my doctor, because she had a little girl."
Despite trying to make it work multiple times and even getting engaged at one point, Spears and Maddie's father, Casey Alridge, are now broken up, and while Spears says she goes out on the occasional date, she's waiting until she eventually gets serious with someone to bring him home to meet her daughter. It's something she's actually looking forward to.
"I just want to be a soccer mom. I want to cook dinner every night. I want the kids to come home and be dirty and make the house messy," Spears explains. "At the same time, I have to be patient and wait for the right time and the right guy. I would have never known that until I went through what I went through. I'm just patiently waiting for Prince Charming."
In the meantime, Spears and her daughter have moved to Nashville, Tennessee, so the 20-year-old can pursue a career in music … just like her sister. "She's in such a good place right now. She's in love. She has her kids. So I'm happy for her. Of course [our bond as mothers], it's such a big thing, you know? Especially 'cause there's an age gap there -- she's 10 years older. I think if I were just a normal 20-year-old, I wouldn't be able to relate as much to her."
The March issue of Glamour this newsstands on February 7.