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tv   Nightline  ABC  January 13, 2022 12:37am-1:06am PST

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tonight, jamie lynn spears finding her voice. >> i have to do it or how else can i expect my daughters to stand up for themselves? >> breaking her silence about her relationship with her superstar sister. with insights into britney's struggles. what was your reaction when the conservatorship was dissolved? >> i was happy. >> shedding light on her own mental health struggles. >> it really was like to the point where i panic attacks werr all-consuming. >> after that tragic accident that changed everything. >> i felt to the core what it's like to have the worst happen to you. >> riffing her life on her own terms. >> i stood up for myself to say exactly what i wanted. >> this special edition of "nightline," "jamie lynn spears,
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spears is something she long suppressed. it took a near-fatal tragedy for her to confront some painful truths. we sat down for a wide-ranging tv interview on everything from britney's conservatorship, her own mental health struggles, to how jamie lynn found her voice. why do you think it makes you emotional still, all these years later? >> it's just like, thank god that i like, you know -- like thank god i stood up for myself and said exactly what i wanted. >> reporter: jamie lynn spears remembers being pregnant at 16 and feeling utterly isolated. a scandalized teenage tv star. >> everyone, of course, initially was completely shocked. and they're like, this is a baby having a baby. in those moments, i just felt really alone. >> reporter: spears says she grew up pretending that everything was perfect, even when it wasn't. as her family often focused instead on her world-famous sister, britney's, turbulent life. you wrote, i quote you, the
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entire spears team was already caught up in my sister's pr difficulties and everyone around me just wanted to make the issue disappear. >> yeah. i think that the easy thing for possibly me would be like, let's get this over with, you go back to being the perfect little sister, because that's your role. ♪ now you see me ♪ >> reporter: as her sister's career reached the highest heights, jamie lynn had forged her own path on nickelodeon as the lead in "zoe 1 owe01." >> i feel zoe was what i always wanted to be. like every teenager, i was insecure about a lot of things about myself. also trying to pretend i was perfect, i guess. >> reporter: not everything was perfect. behind the glitz and glam was profound anxiety, grappling with the pressures of fame and a chaotic family. >> i've never shared anything -- >> reporter: now 30, the married mother of two daughters says
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she's breaking the cycle by breaking her silence about her childhood traumas, her struggles with mental health, and the pressures of growing up spears. in her new book "things i should have said". >> it was really important to me to, first off, honor my voice. i have to do it or how else can i expect my daughters to stand up for themselves? >> do you worry that, by speaking your truth, that it will harm your relationships? >> well, nobody ever really considered me. but i think that everyone is allowed to say their truth. >> reporter: when news of her pregnancy broke in 2007 it created a media feeding frenzy. jamie lynn facing the same heated circus that followed her famous sister britney's every move. >> why are you here? other than to shame me and to benefit off a young girl who's going through something already so traumatic and so deeply and personal. now you're going to put me on a magazine cover and call me a slut for it.
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it just really -- it's so unacceptable. we say we do better, but now we just go into the comments on instagram and do it. >> reporter: jamie lynn claims her family and management team sent her away to a remote cabin somewhere in the snowy northest to avoid media. no phone, no contact with the outside world for weeks. >> what was i going to do? i was a kid. maybe this isn't my best interest. maybe this is what i'm supposed to do. of course i don't want to be hounded by paparazzi. but it felt like i was really being alienated. >> reporter: jamie lynn says her family life had long been plagued by her father's past drinking. according to the "new york times," court papers show he attended rehab for alcoholism in 2004. you wrote in the book respect he spent most of my life in that cycle of ruinous behavior, his bouts of drinking always caused me periods of torment and sorrow. >> it was -- created a lot of anxiety of the not knowing what i was going to get, also feeling like i didn't have anybody there
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to just cut it out until it could be consistent. >> reporter: while jamie lynn was grappling with the fallout over pregnancy, her sister was struggling. britney had recently lost custody of her two young sons. trapped by the relentless flash of cameras, she shaved her own head in what seemed to be a mental breakdown, coming to a head in a 2007 confrontation with paparazzi. jamie lynn said over the years she'd noticed britney's behavior begin to change. in the book you describe an incident where britney takes a knife, says she's scared, and locks you and herself into a room. why did you want to include that in the book? >> because, first off, i think that experiencing my own panic attacks and how sometimes we can feel in those moments is important. but also, it's important to remember that i was a kid in
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that moment. i was scared. that was an experience i had. but i also was fearful to really say anything because i didn't want to upset anybody. but also was so upset that she didn't feel safe. >> words that you've used in the book to describe her behavior over your lifetime, erratic, paranoid, spiraling. how do you see your sister's state of mind currently? >> i can't really speak to anyone else's state of mind. i don't think that's fair. but i'm allowed to say how i felt in those. because that matters. it matters that i was in pain. it matters. it doesn't matter where they came from. >> reporter: in 2008, after two hospitalizations, the court gave their father, jamie spears, legal control over britney's personal, professional, and financial affairs. the conservatorship was initially seen by some as a stabilizing force in her life. ♪ i think i did it again ♪
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>> reporter: britney released four albums and performed nearly 250 shows in her las vegas residency. while dad, jamie, was conservator, jamie lynn says father and daughter tried to stay sober together. >> you describe the fact that your father, in the conservatorship, was taking sobriety tests alongside britney as part of that. >> i just -- probably selfishly looked at it like, everybody's sober, i don't have to be anxious for the first time. like, there's actual people making sure that everybody's on the right track. and i didn't have to worry what i was walking into. >> how would you describe your relationship with him now? >> realtime, real life. it's messy and i'm working through it. good days and bad days. i think the relationship stands is that he's still my father. and i have to -- i have to acknowledge that in a responsible way. >> reporter: last summer at the height of the free britney movement, britney spoke out in court against the
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conservatorship, calling it abusive and overly controlling. the pop star saying she wanted to sue her family, lashing out at her father in particular saying, he should be put in jail. jamie spears and his attorneys have consistently claimed that everything was done under the authority of the conservatorship and with britney's best interests in mind. do you agree with her assessment that your father was out of line? >> honestly, i just believe that if my sister wanted to be out of the conservatorship, then there should -- you know, that conversation should be had, she should be able to facilitate that.orr: d 13 years before it was officially terminated by a judge in november. what was your reaction when the conservatorship was dissolved? >> when it was dissolved? i mean, i was happy. i think that for me, if that's what makes britney and everyone else happy, that's what should happen. and that's all it is.
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it has so very little to actually do with me. except for the well-being of my family members. >> reporter: jamie lynn saying for the first time that she even tried to give britney the resources she needed to end the conservatorship. >> i've always been my sister's biggest support are letter when she needed help, i set up ways to do so. went out of my way to make sure that she had the contacts she needed to possibly go ahead and end this conservatorship. but how many times can i take the steps without, you know -- she has to walk through the door. >> reporter: there's been speculation of a rift. many of britney's fans attacking jamie lynn online, noting that britney unfollowed her on instagram. britney also posting last july about her sister's tribute performance at the 2017 radio disney awards, writing, i don't like that my sister showed up at an awards show and performed my songs to remixes. my so-called support system hurt
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my deeply. >> honestly, it was somewhat confusing to me about that, and i actually have spoke to her about that. and i was doing a tribute to honor my sister and all the amazing things that she's done. >> but you've cleared that up with her? >> i have cleared up with the fact that i don't think she's personally upset with me about that. >> reporter: jamie lynn says their relationship came to a head during the pandemic. she writes that britney came at me screaming and getting up in my face while she was holding her toddler, ivy, in her arms. >> she cursed at me. so i walked out of the room. like, we're just all family under one roof, i'm not trying to argue. when i tried to remove myself from the situation -- that's -- when i guess she just got really angry. and my oldest daughter tried to, you know, mediate the situation. i hated that.
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like, that's not what you're supposed to, do you're 12. >> reporter: but rather than respect everyone's wishes, jamie lynn says her family was reverting to unhealthy patterns. her parents' spoo s s' response? >> they told me i shouldn't be upset, i can't upset britney. i said, you saw me and my children upset, when will i matter? >> reporter: despite their complicated relationship, jamie lynn says while the world idolized her big sister, britney, who is 10 years older, was like a second mother to her. >> do i feel like that -- she was like -- like i loved her that much. and to have, you know -- it's just so innocent to love your siblings, and especially me. i loved her like she was my mama, you know? >> what happened to that love? >> um -- >> what has caused this rift between you? >> that love is still there. 100%. i love -- i love my sister.
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i only -- i've only ever loved and supported her and done what's right by her. and she knows that. so i don't know why we're in this position right now. >> reporter: abc news reached out to britney spears and her father, jamie, for comment. they did not respond. when we come back, the near death experience that changed jamie lynn's life forever. >> given such a gift. i fought to bring her in this world. damn sure didn't want to lose her, you know? people everywhere living with type 2 diabetes are waking up to what's possible... with rybelsus®. the majority of people taking rybelsus® lowered their blood sugar and reached an a1c of less than 7. rybelsus® isn't for people with type 1 diabetes. don't take rybelsus® if you or your family ever had medullary thyroid cancer or have multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2, or if allergic to it. stop rybelsus® and get medical help right away if you get a lump or swelling in your neck, severe stomach pain, or an allergic reaction.
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her story," continues. here again, juju chang. >> you're looking very glamorous and very hollywood right now. but you're not very hollywood, are you? >> i would say that this is not my everyday look, no. i'm typically running the kids back and forth to softball and school and stuff like that. in a big t-shirt and some shorts from the gym or whatever it is. just trying to make it wherever my kids need to be on time. >> reporter: against the odds, after splitting with maddie's father, jamie lynn managed to build a low-key life for herself in louisiana and started acting again. she married another jamie, jamie watson, a successful businessman. they welcomed baby ivy three years ago. >> i loved reading about your color-coordinated calendars. i think every mom can relate to that. yet what does it say about you and how much energy and focus you put into parents? >> i think i have, like, a hypersensitivity to, like, making things feel really stable
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and secure, especially if i have to travel for work. i never want them to feel like anything's left up to question. it just helps me feel secure, and also, i want them to feel secure. like, their mom thought of that for them. >> reporter: but that sense of security was almost destroyed five years ago when a then 8-year-old maddie, the baby she fought so hard to have, was in a horrific atv accident. >> all of a sudden i just see her take this hard turn into, like, the back part of the pond. so the best that i could reason is she tried to get out of the safety net and her head got caught in it. she was trapped. >> reporter: the family frantically fought to rescue her, but she says maddie remained underwater for more than five minutes. what stays with you from that day? >> when i thought that i'd lost her, i was so afraid that her last thought was, why didn't mama save me? i just hope she knows that i was
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doing everything i could. if that was the last thing. that she lived, you know? >> reporter: first responders were on the scene within minutes. they freed maddie and rushed her to the hospital, where she was put on a ventilator. you describe your priest administering last rites. >> it was -- it was horrible to see your baby like that. >> she was nonresponsive? >> i just wanted her spirit to hear somebody speak to it, if that's all that was in there. and obviously her spirit was not ready to go. >> reporter: maddie made a miraculous recovery. there was that moment where she opens her eyes. and you register that she's there. >> that was the first moment, like -- like i saw her in there, you know, it was like i knew she was in there. because she kind of looked like, where am i? what is this? that was my maddie registering. i knew that wasn't, like, a blip or just her eyes opening for some other reason. like, i knew she was able to,
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like, understand, like, where am i, why am i in this hospital? >> what were the first words she spoke to you when she came out of it? >> she was saying really bizarre things. she recognized everybody but she didn't recognize me. the doctors would ask, who's this? she goes, carrie underwood, but she looks kind of like my mom in those clothes. basically she was saying, you look like carrie underwood but you dress like my mother. >> reporter: jamie lynn said the experience brought her closer to god. >> you said sometimes you have to be rocked to your core in order to understand what your core is. >> it so quickly comes to light, what's important when you walk through something like that. i lost my baby and then was immediately given her back. do you know how many people would give anything for that? and i was given that blessing. >> reporter: jamie lynn says her daughter's brush with death forced her to re-examine her entire life, including her childhood traumas and the mental
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health struggles she had suppressed for years. >> it really was, like, to the point where panic attacks were all-cons hif all-consuming, touching the doorknob seven times, it was consuming my life to the point where it was taking over me. i finally spoke to a therapist. at the time i took medicine and got back to a place where i felt stable. >> so what were the overarching diagnoses? >> depression, anxiety, ocd. it was weird how i would use my ocd almost trying to fix my depression. i felt like if i did certain things a certain number of times, it would make it feel better, or that would make something bad not happen. that was my thing. >> it's quite clear throughout the book that you've come to a lot of self-discovery, a lot of painful realizations. >> i think that when your worst fear happens, you get a lot less afraid of everything else. it made me re-evaluate everything and who i was as a person and where i needed to be
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better. when we come back, jamie lynn on her hopes for her daughters' future. they're back. yes, i hear them. uh-oh. why are these birds so angry?! at least geico makes bundling our home and car insurance easy. we save a lot. i'm going...i'm going. aaaahh! hurry, hurry! i know, i know! for bundling made easy, go to geico.com. age is just a number. and mine's unlisted. try boost® high protein with 20 grams of protein for muscle health. versus 16 grams in ensure high protein. boost® high protein also has key nutrients for immune support. boost® high protein. better skin from your body wash? try olay body wash withso skincare super ingredient collagen! olay body wash hydrates to improve skin 3x better, from dry and dull to firm and radiant.
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maddie's about the age you came to hollywood. what would you say to her if she says, mom, i want to be an actor or entertainer? >> i think it's all about supporting their talents. thankfully hers seems to be more sports. but i think it's hard when it becomes a job. now you're a kid in an adult world. but then again, your kid gets an opportunity to do a freaking tv show and that's all she's ever dreamed, how do you tell them no? there's no right or wrong answer. i just think that, you know -- i think we'll stick to softball. >> that's "nightline." you can watch all of our full episodes on hulu. we'll see you right back here same time tomorrow. thanks

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