The Real Reason We Don't Hear From Jamie Lynn Spears Anymore

Jamie Lynn Spears was poised to be the next big star, following in the footsteps of big sister Britney. She was everywhere...and then she wasn't. What happened to her? Where did she go?

She got pregnant at 16

Jamie Lynn was the star of Zoey 101 on Nickelodeon in 2007, a sparkling, vibrant 16-year-old starlet with the same bright smile as her then-troubled older sister. She was dating a guy from home, Casey Aldridge, when she fell ill. She recalled in her June 2016 TLC special (via Us Weekly), "I kept actually throwing up." A friend urged her to take a pregnancy test, and she explained, "We didn't want to do it at home, so I went in the BP and I took a pregnancy test."

She admitted she was terrified to tell her parents, and that her father in particular didn't take it well. "Things weren't great for a while...At the end of the day I knew I had to make a decision as a young girl myself to do something that I could sleep with every night," she said. "I knew deep down that I was going to have my little girl, even if I had to raise her on my own, and that's what I did." She and Aldridge got engaged, but called off the engagement in 2009. Their split was announced in early 2010, according to OK!

She avoided the press

Jamie Lynn told Glamour in March 2012 that she and her parents did an interview to get the story of her pregnancy out on their own terms...and then she deliberately avoided doing any press pretty much indefinitely because of the hurtful comments she received.

"When I found out I was pregnant, [my parents and I] decided to do an interview with OK! magazine about it. I knew I needed to give an explanation to my fans, and I wanted it to be in my words first. I had to make a decision that I could sleep with every night. I did feel responsible for the young girls and the mothers who I probably confused and let down," she said. "I apologize for that. But I wasn't trying to glamorize teen pregnancy. I hated when [the tabloids] said that. Everybody is dealt a hand of cards. It was my choice to play them the way I played them. But the hateful comments hurt," she continued. "I was already upset about having to tell my parents and Casey's parents. To have the world come down on a situation that was already affecting my family hugely was hard. But this was my situation, and I did the best I could...I've never wanted to be put under that kind of scrutiny."

"[I] hid for three weeks in the house with two security [guards] while the story went out," she said. "It was a real scandal situation at the time."

She went into hiding

Jamie Lynn said in her TLC special (via Us Weekly) that following the reveal, she "bought some land and put a big a** gate around it." She expounded in Glamour, explaining, "I just wanted to get away from it as much as I could, to just go away and be a mom and figure out what I wanted, and to earn a sense of respect back for myself. Move to a town in the middle of nowhere and just raise my child," she said. "All I could be was a good mother. If anybody had anything to say after that, there was nothing I could do."

She refuses to live in a paparazzi hotspot

Part of going into hiding for Jamie Lynn meant avoiding Los Angeles, New York City, and the bright lights and camera flashes associated with fame. "I did not live in the middle of L.A., I wasn't asking for this attention," she told Entertainment Tonight. "I made a decision, I was going to go home," she said if her move to Mississippi with Aldridge. She later moved to Nashville, Tennessee, which is also known for being pretty low-key and for giving celebs their space. When she's not working, though, she goes back to Louisiana.

"Even when I was working in Los Angeles [on Zoey 101], the minute we'd wrap, I was on a plane back home to Louisiana," she told Cosmopolitan. "It was important for me to live in Nashville for a little bit because I needed to build those relationships and make a reputation there, but when it came time to decide where's my daughter going to go to school? Where's my support system? Louisiana has always been it."

She married a regular guy

Jamie Lynn split from Casey Aldridge in 2010, then began dating businessman Jamie Watson. They got engaged in 2013 and tied the knot in March 2014 when she was 22 and he was 31. Watson explained on Jamie Lynn's special (via Us Weekly) that it wasn't love at first sight, "but it was love pretty quick. I think we grew on each other, which is probably why we are still together." Jamie Lynn concurred, adding, "He was kind of awkward and kind of weird. He was always uncomfortable...looking back though, I think it's kind of sweet, because he was acting that way because obviously he liked me."

Perhaps part of why the relationship worked was that Watson was so disinterested in Jamie Lynn's celebrity that he actually had no idea she was famous or who she was. "I'm just a normal guy with a normal job," he admitted. "I did not know about the family. I didn't know she had a TV show. I didn't know anything about her."

Her sister tried to play matchmaker

John Stamos revealed in September 2016 that Britney tried to set Jamie Lynn up with Twilight (2009) star Taylor Lautner. "Britney tried to fix Taylor up with her sister one time," Stamos chuckled to Billboard, asking if he could reveal Lautner's "little secret." Lautner quipped, "It was a few years ago. A long time ago. We did not go out. No, it didn't happen."

Fame isn't a priority for her

Jamie Lynn explained to Entertainment Tonight that her priorities are her family and her job—not making headlines. "When I work, I work, but when I am home, we are just home and I am able to separate those things," she said. "I think that's important in this business, to not always be right in the middle of it. And creating the life that my daughter deserves comes first, so finding that balance is always a struggle but I have a great team of me and my papa around me that really makes sure her life is never disrupted because of anything outside of her world...We have been in this for a while, we get it."

She took her time re-entering the public eye

Jamie Lynn is now a country singer by trade, but she didn't get there overnight—and she didn't want to. She told Rolling Stone, "When I had my little girl, I really figured what I wanted to do with the rest of my life and what kind of legacy I want to leave behind. That's when I started writing music, and I didn't do anything for almost five years. I was just writing, figuring out who I was as an artist."

Most of her work is behind the scenes

Though Jamie Lynn sings and performs her own songs, she also makes a living writing tracks for other musicians, including "I Got The Boy," which she sold to Jana Kramer. She explained to Cosmopolitan, "It was important for me to figure out, 'How am I going to provide for this child?' Not just provide in a way that will die out one day, but to provide in a way that's substantial. And that's when I started going to Nashville and writing. That has been my outlet and a way to provide for my child — writing songs for myself and for other artists."

She added, "I lived in Nashville for about five years. It was almost like me going to college for my craft. I immersed myself in the songwriting community there. They embraced me, and I made some real friends but also learned so much. When I'm in Nashville and I'm songwriting, it's different meetings, different gatherings, just being a part of that community."

How she can make a bigger comeback

Jamie Lynn's TLC special, Jamie Lynn Spears: When the Lights Go Out shed light on just how bubbly, positive, and infectious she is as a person, so audiences can't help but root for her. Additionally, her tracks and performances at the Grand Ole Opry were both moving and well-received. More live performances to develop stronger stage presence and a little more confidence, as well as more television work, whether it be a reality series or just televised performances on country awards shows (think the CMT Awards) could really give her a leg up in the hyper-competitive Nashville field. When she's ready, we're confidant she's got the pipes and the charm to make it work!

Her daughter was seriously injured

At the time of this writing, Jamie Lynn and her family have more important things to worry about than show biz acclaim. According to TMZ, Jamie Lynn's daughter, Maddie, was seriously injured in an ATV accident while on a hunting expedition on Feb. 5, 2017. Sources said the all-terrain vehicle flipped, and the 8-year-old was under water and unconscious for several minutes. Jamie Lynn was reportedly not with her daughter at the time of the accident. TMZ said the little one was airlifted to a New Orleans hospital, where she was reportedly in critical but stable condition the following day. Jamie Lynn's dad told Entertainment Tonight, "All I can say is pray for our baby Maddie." We certainly will.