Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears' relationship explained

Once called "the most buzz-worthy siblings in Hollywood," sisters Britney Spears and Jamie Lynn Spears have been at the center of tabloid attention for over 20 years. Although older sister Britney is the prominent force behind their combined fame and fortune (beginning in 1999 with her debut album ...Baby One More Time), the littler Spears has held her own in the entertainment industry since her preteen years.

Jamie Lynn most notably proved her acting chops starring as the lead of Nickelodeon's Zoey 101 and appearing on the hit series All That. While making her mark on-screen, her sister Britney was busy being Miss American Dream since she was 17, with nine studio albums selling 33.6 million copies just in the U.S. and ranking as the 18th-best selling album artist in the Nielsen era, according to Billboard.

Shoot forward to 2020, amid fans vowing to #FreeBritney from a conservatorship helmed by her father Jamie Spears since 2008, Brit's little sister Jamie Lynn is poised to become the custodian of the singer's trust, according to Harper's Bazaar. The trust in question was set up in 2004 in protection of Britney's millions set aside for her two sons, Sean and Jayden. The question remains: Is Jamie Lynn the right family member to take control? The former Nickelodeon star has already had some control over Britney's finances after being named a trustee of the singer's estate in 2018, according to BBC.

But what's the relationship really like between Britney and Jamie Lynn? Let's dig in.

2007 marked drama for both Spears sisters

Hollywood siblings Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears first worked together on the set of Crossroads, the 2002 film starring Britney as Lucy Wagner. Who other to play a younger Lucy than Britney's own younger sibling? The movie, which became JL's acting debut, led to the actress' eventual titular role in Nickelodeon's Zoey 101. The show came to an end after four seasons in 2008, when a then-squeaky clean 16-year-old Jamie Lynn shocked Hollywood with an unexpected pregnancy announcement in late 2007.

At the time of the announcement, TMZ reported older sister Britney Spears was unaware of her younger sister's taboo pregnancy, telling reporters (via MTV News), "My sister's not pregnant!" It's unclear if the singer was being sarcastic, or just protecting her sister from the media storm to come. The year Jamie Lynn announced her pregnancy was one of whirlwind drama for the Spears siblings. 2007 is when Britney had her paparazzi/umbrella incident, shaved her head, and had a questionable performance of "Gimme More" at the MTV VMAs.

Jaime Lynn Spears yelled at a heckler in support of Britney

With "scandal" as the operative word defining both Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears at the time, the two seemingly stuck together. In 2004, Britney even foreshadowed this with her rendition of Bobby Brown's 1998 hit "My Prerogative," changing the lyrics to, "I really don't know the deal / About my sister / Trying hard to make it right."

As teen mom Jamie Lynn welcomed her baby girl Maddie into the world in 2008, Britney was making a turnaround in her own career while publicly supporting her sister. "That was special, but it was also strange because she's always been the baby, and now the baby was having a baby," Britney said in her comeback interview with OK! Magazine in 2008 (via Access Hollywood). "It was mind-boggling. I was shocked a little bit."

The celebrity siblings have consistently stuck up for each other. Who could forget the viral video of Jamie Lynn yelling at a heckler as they were exiting a Starbucks? A woman could be heard screaming at Britney for making the neighborhood "unsafe," thanks to crowds of paparazzi. Jamie Lynn yelled back, "Well then, move the f**k out," while walking arm-in-arm with her big sister.

Jaime Lynn Spears learned from Britney's paparazzi life

Jamie Lynn and Britney Spears' run-in with paparazzi didn't start and stop in 2007. After announcing her pregnancy at age 16, Jamie Lynn got a glimpse of what sister Britney's life was like, being followed by photogs day in and day out. So much so that the actress even duped paparazzi at LAX with a lookalike. In an interview with Maria Menounos on the Better Together podcast in May 2020, Jamie Lynn revealed over a decade later that it was after watching Britney in the limelight that she decided to step away from the industry herself.

"I knew staying in Hollywood — the circus that would have been around me as a young teen mom, it would have been the best show for the media ever," Jamie Lynn said on the podcast (via The Independent), despite being followed to the South by paparazzi for the first few years. "I needed to get away and grow up. Because you can't expect yourself not to make mistakes, and with the kind of scrutiny that I had seen with my sister, I don't think I can do that in front of the whole world."

Britney Spears is Jamie Lynn's 'hero' and 'secret weapon'

Learning the ropes of the industry can be hard for any young girl with big dreams, but for Jamie Lynn Spears, she had the secret weapon of her big sister: pop-icon Britney Spears. "Having Britney as an example was crucial for me," Jamie Lynn told The Hollywood Reporter in May 2020. "Not only did my sister build me up, but she made me feel like I was the star when she was clearly the star. Britney was always really open and honest with me about the good and the bad that comes with this industry. And that's what gave me the confidence to say no sometimes."

The actress went on to call her sister her "secret weapon" in navigating her career choices. Back in 2017, Jamie Lynn called the pop star her "hero" while presenting Britney with Radio Disney's first ever Icon Award, according to Entertainment Weekly. The Zoey 101 star hopped on stage for a performance of Britney's 2011 single "Till the World Ends" before telling the audience, "She is my friend, my hero, my favorite pop star of all time."

Britney Spears' best advice to Jamie Lynn was to focus on motherhood

Siblings Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears share more in common than just blood — the two celebrities are both moms of two. "She gets to spoil my girls, and I get to be hard on her boys, and so that's just kind of fun to switch roles a little bit as girl mom [and] boy mom," Jamie Lynn told Access Hollywood in May 2020.

And during their childhood, Jamie Lynn considered Britney like a mom to her. Speaking to Access Hollywood in 2014, Jamie Lynn said (via Us Weekly) that her and Britney's relationship is a "really special one." The actress continued, "There's such a big age difference between me and my sister that I think [she] almost was like a second mom. She's so supportive and she's so encouraging of me and she's like my biggest fan... She's always had my back."

After JL became a mom herself, Britney encouraged her to focus on motherhood. "The most important thing I've learned from Britney is that you've got to prioritize your family and the people who really know you," Jamie Lynn told The Hollywood Reporter.

Jamie Lynn Spears responded to the #FreeBritney controversy

With such a tight-knit relationship, it's only natural that as controversy surrounding Britney Spears' conservatorship circulates, Jamie Lynn Spears would respond to the movement that sometimes targets the younger Spears, too. The #FreeBritney movement has occasionally given Jamie Lynn a hard time, assuming she doesn't do enough for her big sis.

"10 years ago, who was there?? I have been here long before anyone else and I'll be here long after," wrote Jamie Lynn on Twitter in April 2019, referring to the video of the Zoey 101 actress screaming at a heckler in defense of her sister in 2007. "I love my sister with everything I have. So anyone or anything that speaks to the contrary can GTFOH with all the comments about what you don't understand." Jamie Lynn continued, "Don't come for me or the ones I love anymore."

The Spears sisters quarantined together

After 20+ years in the industry, Jamie Lynn and Britney Spears still seem as close as ever. The siblings even quarantined together amid the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. "Britney was like, 'I want to come home, I don't want to be by myself out here,' because all of her family's pretty much here," Jamie Lynn told Entertainment Tonight. "Having our family has been the biggest blessing, too. I mean, we're driving each other absolutely insane, about things you wouldn't normally get mad about, but at the end of the day, at least we have each other, you know?"

According to her sister, Britney eventually returned home to Los Angeles to spend time with her two boys, Sean and Jayden. Despite the travel difference, Jamie Lynn is adamant she's honored to be the sibling of such a pop legend, noting to The Hollywood Reporter that the "Oops!...I Did It Again" singer has "a legacy that will last forever." 

"People always ask me, 'Is there a lot of pressure being related to Britney, someone who is an icon?' And the answer is no, not really," Jamie Lynn said. "I'm so proud of Britney for everything that she's been able to accomplish and the impact she's had, not just on pop music but the industry as a whole. And the best part about being a living legend is that it's not finished. There's always more to come."