Sunday, October 7, 2007
Childhood and discovery
Britney Spears was born in McComb, Mississippi, and raised in Kentwood, Louisiana as a Southern Baptist. Her parents are James Parnell Spears, a building contractor, and Lynne Irene Bridges, a former grade school teacher. Spears's brother Bryan works as a manager for the Spears family interests and her sister Jamie Lynn is an actress and singer. Her maternal grandmother Lillian Woolmore was an English war-bride who met Spears's grandfather Barnett O'Field Bridges in England during World War II. Her paternal grandparents were June Austin Spears and Emma Jean Forbes. Spears was an accomplished gymnast, attending gymnastics classes until age nine and competing in state-level competitions. She performed in local dance revues and her local Baptist church choir. At age eight she auditioned for the Disney Channel series The New Mickey Mouse Club. Although she was considered too young to join the series at the time, a producer on the show introduced her to a New York City agent. Spears subsequently spent three summers at NYC's Professional Performing Arts School and also appeared in a number of off-Broadway productions, including 1991's Ruthless!. In 1992, she landed a spot on the popular television show Star Search. Though she won her first round in the competition, she ultimately lost. At age eleven, Spears returned to the Disney Channel for a spot on the New Mickey Mouse Club in Lakeland, Florida, and was accepted. Spears was featured on the show from 1993 to 1994, until she was thirteen. Other future celebrities on the show included fellow pop singer Christina Aguilera, 'N Sync members Justin Timberlake and Joshua Chasez, Felicity actress Keri Russell, and The Notebook star Ryan Gosling. After the show ended, Spears returned to Kentwood and entered high school for a year. In 1997, Spears briefly joined the all-female pop group Innosense. Later that same year, she decided to go solo. After recording a demo, she was signed by Jive Records. She began touring American venues for a series of concerts sponsored by American teen magazines, and eventually became an opening act for 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.