Why Britney Spears Almost Wasn't On The Mickey Mouse Club

The incomparable Britney Spears — along with the likes of Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling — got her start on "The Mickey Mouse Club" in 1992. And Disney has been a reliable teen sensation factory ever since. But what if Spears had never been cast on the show? Turns out that scenario was more of a possibility than you may realize.

For millennials and zoomers especially, it's impossible to imagine pop culture without Spears, who has dominated music charts, tabloids, and the stage since those iconic first few bars of "Baby One More Time" first hit the airwaves. In the years since her Disney Channel debut, Spears has released countless No. 1 singles, sold out numerous shows, and released several albums. Spears is so widely beloved that she's inspired an activist movement among her fans, #FreeBritney, which opposes the conservatorship that has controlled most of her life for the past 13 years.

Here's how it could have gone differently.

Britney Spears started on The Mickey Mouse Club young

Britney Spears was just 11 years old when she was cast in "The Mickey Mouse Club" in 1992. But this was actually her second time auditioning. Spears first traveled to Georgia to audition in 1990 when she was just 8 and was rejected, but only because she was too young.

"Her mom drove eight hours to our open call in Atlanta in 1990, and they waited seven hours to get into the room. The singing and dancing from this 8-year-old was mind blowing. It was like meeting Shirley Temple or Judy Garland. She sang 'Shine on Harvest Moon,' 'Cry' and 'Sweet Georgia Brown,'" casting director Matt Casella told The Seattle Times in 2007. "Lynn (Spears) called me (for advice), so I hooked her up with one of the best agents in New York. To this day, she says, 'Too bad you didn't get a finder's fee!'"

Spears has always been known not just for her impressive pipes, but also her look, her style, and most importantly her skills as a dancer and performer. In fact, as Tony Lucca told E! News in 2018, on "Mickey Mouse Club," even older kids "would always ask Britney how the [dance] combinations went, because she was really great at committing them to memory."

And the rest, as they say, is history.