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After watching "Framing Britney Spears (opens in new tab)," the new documentary from The New York Times that explores the pop star's misogynistic and hugely damaging (opens in new tab) treatment by the media, society, and the people she trusted, many viewers are flooding social media (opens in new tab) with apologies for their own complicity in this treatment and calls to "#FreeBritney." That freedom, for those out of the Spearsian loop, would end the conservatorship that has permitted Britney's father, Jamie Spears, to control her finances and career since 2008.
But while Jamie's involvement in his daughter's life was well-documented in "Framing Britney Spears," her mother Lynne was largely absent from the documentary. Though never truly a momager, Lynne was the more hands-on parent in both Britney and her younger sister Jamie Lynn's early careers, but had pulled back significantly by the time her estranged husband took over Britney's finances in 2008. Since then, Lynne has largely laid low, but resurfaced last year to make a bid to take over the conservatorship from Jamie. Here's what you need to know about Lynne Spears and the part she's played in the #FreeBritney movement.
Lynne is a teacher, daycare operator, and published author.
Lynne Bridges was born to a British mother and American father in Mississippi in 1955. She married Jamie Spears in 1976, and together they welcomed son Bryan in 1977, followed by daughters Britney in 1981 and Jamie Lynn in 1991. Lynne and Jamie divorced in 2002—an event that Britney once said (opens in new tab) was "the best thing that's ever happened to my family"—and though they briefly reconciled in 2010, they have been living separately for most of the last decade.
Before her children became household names, Lynne owned and operated a daycare center in Kentwood, Louisiana, where she and Jamie raised their children, and was also a grade school teacher. However, she and her elder daughter moved to New York around 1990 to kickstart Britney's career with appearances in Off-Broadway productions, Star Search, and several commercials before she landed her breakthrough role on the '90s reboot of The Mickey Mouse Club.
For the first decade or so of her daughter's fame, Lynne was very forthcoming about their experiences, publishing two tell-all books: 2000's Heart to Heart, co-written with Britney, and 2008's Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World. Lynne and Britney also co-wrote 2001's A Mother's Gift, a novel loosely based on Britney's life that was adapted into TV movie Brave New Girl in 2004. Since her book tour for Through the Storm concluded, however, Lynne has lived a largely under-the-radar life, rarely giving interviews or making public appearances.
She was devastated by Britney's mental health struggles.
Although she did criticize the media's unfair treatment of her daughter, in Through the Storm and in interviews after Britney's widely publicized mental health crisis in 2007, Lynne repeatedly shared that she felt personally responsible for those struggles because she was unprepared to guide Britney through her pursuit of fame. "I didn't raise my children to have Hollywood careers. This all just exploded in my face, and big dreams became big headaches," she told (opens in new tab) Life & Style in 2007.
A year later, while promoting Through the Storm in an appearance (opens in new tab) on the Today show in September 2008, Lynne opened up further about feeling blindsided by both the good and the bad parts of her daughter's superstardom. "There's the honeymoon phase at first. Everything is fabulous: 'Look at the wonderful trips she gets to go on; look at the wonderful people she's meeting,'" she recalled. "Then there's the ugly side of things that turns, and we weren't ready for that, either."
She added that her worries and guilt about Britney's well-being had been further compounded at the end of 2007, when Jamie Lynn announced she was pregnant at the age of 16. "We were praying very hard, because it seemed like we were having no control over anything that was happening," Lynne said.
"A mother is as happy as her most unhappy child. You kind of gravitate toward the one who needs you the most at that time," she continued. "It's a balancing act. Maybe I haven't done it as best as I could, but all I can ever tell you is I tried."
She filed to become part of Britney's conservatorship.
After more than a decade of being removed from Britney's career, Lynne filed a request in May 2019 to receive special notice of all updates and matters in her daughter's conservatorship case, allowing her to be involved in all decisions made about the case, Entertainment Tonight reported (opens in new tab) at the time. The request was apparently denied, since Lynne filed another request for special notice in the case in July 2020, per court documents (opens in new tab) obtained by The Blast.
At the time of Lynne's most recent filings, a source told (opens in new tab) ET that Britney was all for her mother playing a bigger role in her life. "Britney trusts Lynne and has asked her mother to be part of her conservatorship. She truly believes that her mother wants to help her have more autonomy when it comes to her money," the source said, adding that with Lynne in charge, Britney "feels her desires will be taken more seriously."
Lynne's motivation to get involved in the conservatorship case coincides with and mirrors Britney's own efforts to gain a greater sense of control over her own life. As a source told (opens in new tab) Us Weekly in September, "Lynne wants a care plan established that would transition Britney's personal life out of the conservatorship."
Andrea Park is a Chicago-based writer and reporter with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the extended Kardashian-Jenner kingdom, early 2000s rom-coms and celebrity book club selections. She graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2017 and has also written for W, Brides, Glamour, Women's Health, People and more.
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