Jamie Lynn Spears
Unlike many star siblings, teen actress-singer Jamie Lynn Spears managed to step out of the long shadow cast by her older sister, pop phenomenon Britney Spears, and enjoy her own career success as a hugely popular teen idol. Jamie Lynn made early appearances in such projects as Britney's film debut "Crossroads" (2002), prior to joining the kids' sketch-comedy show "All That" (Nickelodeon, 1994-2005). Positive fan reaction led to her taking on the starring role on the popular tween TV show, "Zoey 101" (Nickelodeon, 2005-08), one of the network's best performing series in years. The success of the show quickly begat made-for-TV movie spin-offs like "Zoey 101: Spring Break-Up" (Nickelodeon, 2006). Then in 2007, Spears' unexpected pregnancy brought about the early demise of "Zoey 101" and prompted the 16-year-old starlet to return home to Mississippi with the father, Casey Aldridge, where she planned on marrying and raising their child. Neither the relationship nor the retirement were to last, however, as her planned marriage to Aldridge never materialized and rumors of Spears launching a career in country music began to swirl after her relocation to Nashville in 2010. Whether Spears' career would become a footnote to that of her sister's or would evolve via a rare second act remained to be seen.
Born April 4, 1991 in McComb, MS, Spears was the youngest of three children born to Jamie and Lynne Spears (whose first names were combined to create hers). While still a baby, Spears moved from her hometown of Kentwood, LA to New York City with her mother and older sister in an effort to build Britney's music career. When Britney did hit big in the late-1990s, Jamie Lynn began expressing interest in following in her sister's performing footsteps. At first, the youngster began popping up in her sisters' projects. Her first onscreen appearance came in the 2001 concert movie, "Totally Britney Live." She also turned up in a Pepsi commercial with her sister that same year, as well as playing a younger version of Britney's character in the pop music phenom's unfortunate feature film debut, "Crossroads" (2002).
According to some reports, the younger Spears made public in an interview her desire to join the cast of the venerable Nickelodeon sketch comedy show, "All That" (1994-2005). Whether this was the case or not, Spears joined the cast in 2002, and remained with the show until its final season in 2004. Though some critics and fans were less than impressed with Spears' performance on "All That," she clearly resonated with the majority of viewers, who nominated her for both a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award as Best Television Actress, and for a Young Artist Award, which she shared with the rest of her castmates. Spears also guested on several other programs during this time, including the ABC Family reality series, "Switched!" (2003-04), and in a 2004 segment of the entertainment tabloid show "Real Access" (The N, 2003- ), as well as several Nickelodeon-related specials.
Following the series wrap of "All That," Spears was given her own Nickelodeon show in 2005: "Zoey 101" (2005-08). The show followed Spears as Zoey Brooks, one of a group of girls attending a formerly all-boys boarding school. In addition to her role as Zoey, Spears also co-wrote and sang the show's theme song. The program proved extremely popular among teen audiences, which helped make it the third most-watched program on the network, and earned Spears a Young Artist Award in 2005 for Best Ensemble Cast. The blossoming star was also nominated for a Teen Choice Award that same year for Best Breakout Performance (Female).
In 2006, the popularity of "Zoey 101" spawned an hour-long special feature, "Zoey 101: Spring Break-Up," which introduced an element of romance between Spears' character and castmate Sean Flynn's character, Chase Matthews. In late 2007, Spears shocked the world when she announced she was pregnant at age 16 by her longtime boyfriend from her hometown, Casey Aldridge. The mini furor over her pregnancy, which was announced with the help of her mother, Lynne, through OK Magazine, momentarily eclipsed her sister's tabloid exploits. But only momentarily. Only weeks after the pregnancy was announced and questions were raised on the future of her career on "Zoey 101," Britney stole the spotlight by being taken by ambulance involuntarily to a hospital for psychological observation, following a three-hour stand-off with police after she refused to give up her children, as per her custody agreement with ex-husband Kevin Federline.
After making a guest appearance as a troubled teen on the short-lived sitcom "Miss Guided" (ABC, 2008), "Zoey 101" ended in 2008 shortly after the network aired its fourth and final season, expressing only best wishes for the health and future of their 16-year-old star. Soon after, Spears and Aldridge - the acknowledged father of her unborn child and then-fiancé - moved to Libertyville, MS, where she announced her intention to raise their child in relative peace and quiet. High drama threatened to follow the expectant teen mom, as concerns about her under-age pregnancy and Aldridge being nearly two years older than Spears had the specter of legal woes temporarily looming over the young family. In June 2008, Spears gave birth to baby girl Maddie Briann Aldridge, whose first pictures appeared in OK! magazine for a reported price of $1 million. The following year, Spears and Aldridge called off their engagement and separated, only to temporarily reunite before calling it quits in the fall of 2010. Later that year, Spears relocated to Nashville, TN in order to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter, with a country album rumored to be in the works.