Just after Jamie Lynn Spears' character Zoey on Zoey 101 graduated Pacific Coast Academy, the actress found out that she was pregnant. Now 25, the younger sister of pop star Britney opened up in People magazine about finding out that she was pregnant in a gas station bathroom.
"My biggest concern was, 'Oh my goodness, I need to tell my mother and father and my family,'" she says. The baby's father was her then-boyfriend Casey Aldridge, with whom she broke up two years later.
As a Nickelodeon star, Spears felt a lot of pressure to set an example for her fans. "I was on a Nickelodeon show, so I felt responsible for what these young girls were gonna think looking up to me," she says. "I put myself in an adult situation, so I needed to handle it like an adult. My age was never an excuse for me."
Spears was committed to overcoming the teen mom stigma. She gave birth to her daughter Maddie Briann on June 19, 2008, and since then, has mostly stayed away from the public eye to focus on raising her daughter. She moved to Nashville, and found creative collaborators in the country songwriting community. After working on honing her voice, she is jumping back into the scene, with a country music album and a TLC documentary special.
She's working on making it as a country singer, her style more similar to Carrie Underwood than to her sister.
While she's committed to giving her daughter a normal upbringing, she does admit there are perks to Maddie having a famous mom and an über-famous aunt. The family all went to the Billboard Music Awards to see Aunt Britney receive the Icon award, and Maddie, was "just like any other little kid [would be in that situation]. She's like, 'Hey, am I gonna get to see Fifth Harmony?' or 'Oh my gosh, Ariana Grande is gonna be here!'"
Spears married businessman Jamie Watson in 2014, and the three are a happy family out in Tennessee.
While having a kid as a kid presented a lot of challenges, Spears said it helped her find her voice as a singer.
"When you have to be strong, not only for yourself but for someone else, you grow a whole other layer of skin," she says. "That strength comes from being a mother."