Jamie Lynn Spears opened up about her public spat with sister Britney Spears during a revealing interview on Good Morning America on Wednesday (Jan. 12). “That love is still there. 100 percent. I love my sister,” she told ABC News‘ Juju Chang in the first TV interview about the former Zoey 101 star’s new memoir, Things I Should Have Said (out Jan. 18). “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.”
The “position” she appeared to be referring to was a public rift that developed last July when the pop superstar said it “hurt me deeply” that Jamie Lynn performed a medley of remixed Britney songs at the 2017 Radio Disney Awards. The public spat was especially hard for the younger Spears, who said she “adored” Britney, 40, when they were growing up, referring to her sister as “like another momma.”
“Honestly, it was somewhat confusing to me about that, and I actually have spoke to her about that,” Jamie Lynn told GMA about the disagreement over the remix. “I was doing a tribute to honor my sister and all the amazing things that she’s done. I have cleared up with the fact that I don’t think she’s personally upset with me about that. Truthfully, I don’t know why that bothers her.”
In the memoir, the 30-year-old describes seeing Britney’s behavior begin to change, describing her sibling as “erratic,” “paranoid” and “spiraling,” as the “Gimme More” singer publicly struggled with mental health issues in 2007. After a judge ended Britney’s restrictive 13-year conservatorship in November, Jamie Lynn told GMA she was “happy. I was. .. When it was put into place, I was 17 years old. I was about to have a baby, so I didn’t understand what was happening. Nor was I focused on that. I was focused on the fact that I was a 17-year-old about to have a baby. I understand just as little about it then as I do now.”
Jamie Lynn said she never had an interest in being part of the conservatorship — which was overseen by the sisters’ father, Jamie Spears — but never stopped having her sister’s back through the difficult years. “I’ve always been my sister’s biggest supporter,” Jamie Lynn said. “So 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 and just end this all for our family. If it’s going to cause this much discord, why continue it?”
Adamant that “everyone has a voice,” Jamie Lynn said she spoke to Britney’s previous legal team at one point, but that the interaction “did not end well” for her, and though she tried to help, it was on Britney to “walk through the door.” With Britney now free from the conservatorship, the superstar seems free to speak her mind, which she has been doing in Instagram posts, including one on Jan. 11 in which she appeared to suggest that she is thinking about writing her own memoir.
During the interview, Jamie Lynn shared that she was inspired to write the memoir now by her two children, 13-year-old daughter Maddie and 3-year-old daughter Ivey. “I have to do it or how else can I expect my daughters to stand up for themselves?” said the younger Spears, who had Maddie when she was 16 years old, just months before Britney’s conservatorship began. In the memoir, she writes that before going public, she felt pressure from members of her family and management to make the “issue” disappear, and though those conversations still make her emotional today, she’s glad she spoke up for herself.
“I just like thank God that I like, you know, thank God I stood up for myself and said exactly what I wanted,” she said, describing being sent away to a remote cabin in the Northeast to avoid being seen in public, with no phone or contact with anyone for weeks.
“It felt like you’re almost like suffocating,” she explained. “I felt like what was I going to do, I was a kid, and maybe this is in my best interest and maybe this is what I’m supposed to do because of course I don’t want to be, you know, hounded by the paparazzi or the tabloids or allow them to control my narrative. But it felt like I was really being alienated.”
The singer also discussed the near-fatal ATV accident in 2017 in which then 8-year-old Maddie was trapped under a flipped four-wheeler underwater for six minutes as Jamie Lynn tried to save her. “The biggest thought that I think stays with me, that like haunts me, is that when I was trying to save her — when I thought that I’d lost her — I was so afraid that her last thought was, ‘Why didn’t Mama save me?'” she shared. “I just hope she knows that, like, I was doing everything I could if that was the last thing that she lived.”
In a chilling moment, Jamie Lynn described how the priest in the ICU began to put oil on Maddie’s head and read her last rites when her daughter sat up and began to kick.
Check out some clips from the interview below and see more of the conversation on Nightline tonight.