Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
Singer, Dancer and Actress
Currently Known For:
"...Baby One More Time" and "Oops!... I Did It Again"
1999 - Present
“My loneliness is killing me. I must confess, I still believe. When I’m not with you, I lose my mind. Give me a sign. Hit me, baby, one more time!” Skyrocketing to stardom at only 17 years old, Britney Spears has enjoyed the highest of highs and the lowest of lows over the last two decades. The Mississippi native got her start as a child in theatrical productions and on television series before snagging her first contract with Jive Records in 1997. Getting her first taste of fame with the release of her debut album …Baby One More Time in 1999, her 2000 release of Oops!… I Did It Again reached international success and made her a pop icon as the album set international sales records. By the release of her third album, Britney, Spears made the transition to acting and snagged her first starring role in the 2002 film Crossroads. But, a widely publicized breakdown and her relationship with K-Fed shifted the public’s opinion as Spears shaved her head, lashed out and lost custody of her children in the mid-2000s. Slowly rebuilding her brand and getting her life back on track, let’s take a look at the 35-year-old’s journey to fame and recovery as she now tours the world with Britney: Live in Concert.
The middle of three children born to James and Lynne Spears, Britney Jean was born on December 2, 1981 in McComb, Mississippi. Raised in Kentwood, Louisiana with her older brother Bryan and her younger sister Jamie Lynn, Spears was only three years old when she started dance lessons and, soon after, signed up for voice lessons and gymnastics. Even then, her talent was undeniable as Spears recalled, “I was in my own world [as a kid]. I found out what I’m supposed to do at an early age.” Winning numerous talent competitions, Spears made her stage debut at her kindergarten graduation as the five-year-old wowed parents and teachers singing “What Child Is This?” Three years later, her mother took her to Atlanta, Georgia to audition for a part in The Mickey Mouse Club revival. Although she wasn’t chosen because she was too young, Spears was introduced to a talent agent from New York who was so impressed with her singing that she encouraged her to enroll at the Professional Performing Arts School.
Taking the agent’s advice and moving to New York City with her mother and sister, Spears landed a starring role in an Off-Broadway production of Ruthless! and went on to compete on Star Search. She snagged a few acting gigs in a string of television commercials before trying out for The Mickey Mouse Club once again where, luckily, she was finally old enough and joined Ryan Goslin, Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell and Christiane Aguilera on the show. Spending the next four years with the Club until its cancellation in 1996, she briefly returned to Mississippi and attended Parklane Academy, a private Christian school, where she did her best to fit in among the school’s many cliques. Even then, it wasn’t enough as Spears recalled, “I was so bored [at school]. I was the point guard on the basketball team. I had my boyfriend and I went to homecoming and Christmas formal. But I wanted more.”
Setting out to launch her career as a singer, Spears returned to New York and shared her demo tape with three major labels, each of whom rejected her for not sounding “pop” enough. Fortunately, she didn’t take the rejection to heart and pushed forward as she landed an audition with Jive Records in 1997. Singing Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing,” Spears wowed the label and was offered a contract on the spot as she started working with producer Eric Foster who developed her voice into its distinctive, emotional style. Two years later, she released her debut album …Baby One More Time and watched as the single climbed to the top of the US Billboard 200 with the Recording Industry Association of American certifying it platinum twice. On a global scale, the album reached number one in 15 countries and sold over 10 million copies the first year making it the biggest best-selling album recorded by a teen artist—and to think, Spears was only 18 years old at the time!
With the success of …Baby One More Time, Spears cashed in on her fame and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in April 1999 just as she launched her first tour. The following year she released her second album—Oops!… I Did It Again—and found similar success with album sales and another tour while proving her talents as a writer with the release of her first book, Britney Spears’ Heart to Heart. Her performance at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards helped her transition from teen icon to international sex symbol with her risqué performance and her budding romance with Justin Timberlake earning her an entirely new generation of audiences.
Going on to release albums like Britney, In the Zone and Blackout while starring in the 2002 film Crossroads, Spears’ career spiraled downward in 2007 when her widely publicized divorce with Kevin Federline and the death of her aunt from ovarian cancer ignited a mental breakdown as the world watched in horror. Spears shaved her head and later admitted herself into drug rehabilitation as she lost custody of her children and saw her family take over her finances and her brand. Looking back at her behavior and how she lashed out, Spears admitted, “My 20s were awful. There are moments where I look back and think, ‘What the hell was I thinking?’”
Finally finding her footing in her 30s, Spears returned to the stage and signed a four-year residency at Las Vegas’ Hollywood Resort and Casino. In 2016, she released her ninth studio album, Glory, and recently announced her Las Vegas show would travel the world with Britney: Live in Concert. With a Grammy Award, seven Billboard Music Awards, six MTV Video Music Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, we’re certain the future looks bright for the 35-year-old Princess of Pop.