Jamie Lynn Spears was 16 years old when she discovered she was pregnant.
The “Sweet Magnolias” actress knew she would have to grow up quickly.
“I never wanted to let my age be an excuse for not being a good mother because that baby doesn’t care what age you are,” Spears explained. “I needed to step up.”
When Spears announced that she and her then-boyfriend Casey Aldridge were expecting, she had just wrapped filming on her wholesome Nickelodeon show “Zoey 101.”
“I felt like I was letting people down,” she admitted.
Spears hoped to escape the scrutiny by moving home to Kentwood, Louisiana. But the paparazzi refused to leave Britney Spears’ little sister alone.
“Imagine being scared and embarrassed and you’ve got 25 photographers following you,” Spears said.
That’s why Spears felt an instant connection to her character Noreen when she first read the script for “Sweet Magnolias.”
In the Netflix series, which is set in a small southern town, Noreen is pregnant with a married doctor’s baby and feels like she’s under a microscope.
“I know what it’s like when everyone is watching and judging you,” Spears revealed. “I just have so much compassion for her. She’s young and she’s growing up and trying to figure out who she is in the same way I was.”
Today, Spears and her husband, Jamie Watson, live outside New Orleans with their daughters Maddie, 11, and Ivey, 2.
Spears describes herself as an overprotective “helicopter parent.”
It’s understandable, considering what Spears went through in 2017 when Maddie nearly died in an ATV accident.
“I was in the hospital pleading, just pleading for her life,” Spears recalled. “I said, Take it all. I don’t care. You can have it all. Just give me my baby girl back.’”
Maddie, who was 8 at the time, was driving the off-road vehicle on a relatives property in Kentwood, Louisiana, when it flipped into a pond. Spears and Watson, 39, struggled to free the little girl from a safety belt for several minutes.
That terrifying day — and Maddie’s miraculous recovery — is always in the back of Spears’ mind.
“I can’t complain or ask for anything,” Spears told TODAY Parents. I was given that 1 in a million for the rest of my life.”