For some of us, the name Britney Spears conjures up her catchy debut hit, “…Baby One More Time.” At just 16 years old, the single drove the young pop star to the top of the charts. It also started a career that has lasted two decades, and has been heavily documented by the paparazzi every step of the way.
Others of us might remember her more for the grainy images that broke the internet in 2007, when the Princess of Pop shaved her head and attacked photographers with an umbrella.
But there’s a lot more to one of the world’s biggest celebrities than these two facts. Here are 10 you might not have known.
Britney Spears: 10 Interesting Facts about the ‘Toxic’ Superstar
1. She was the face of a whole generation.
There’s a reason Britney has ridden out the spotlight despite her massive highs and disappointing lows.
She’s one of the best-selling music artists of all time. With over 150 million albums sold worldwide, 70 million albums sold in the U.S., she’s also recognized as the fifth best-selling female artist of the 2000s, a fascinating fact about Britney Spears.
Britney joins Mariah Carey as one of only two artists to debut at number one in 3 separate decades. In 2016, Billboard ranked her at #20 on their Greatest Dance Club Artists of All Time.
As if those aren’t enough accolades for any popstar, she’s also won 12 MTV Video Music Awards, 22 Teen Choice Awards, and a Grammy.
Not too bad for a small town Louisiana girl who hasn’t even turned 40 yet.
2. She used to date Justin Timberlake.
From 1998 until 2002, Britney and Justin were the iconic pop power couple. At the height of both their careers, the two were inseparable. They even showed up for the VMA awards in matching (cringe) double-denim outfits.
Although the media steadfastly followed Britney’s vow to remain a virgin until she got married, gossip circulated at the time of their break-up that Britney had cheated on the N*Sync megastar with her choreographer. Neither of them have ever gone public with details and reasons for the break-up.
Except for that one time.
In 2002, Justin wrote his hit single, ‘Cry Me a River,’ in two hours, following his break-up with Spears. In the music video, his female star looks suspiciously like his ex-girlfriend, and the lyrics clearly imply that someone was cheating on him.
3. She was a Mouseketeer.
Britney has openly described how she performed on stage for the first time at high school graduation. Then, at age 8, she auditioned for the All New Mickey Mouse Club. Casting directors advised her to keep studying her acting and singing and try again in a few years.
Britney returned at age 10, and made the cut, joining Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell, Justin Timberlake, J.C. Chasez, and Ryan Gosling on the famous teen variety show.
4. She’s been married twice.
In January, 2004, Spears made headlines—again—for her surprise Vegas wedding to her old friend, Jason Allen Alexander. Her people reacted quickly, and within 55 hours the marriage was annulled, a crazy fact about Britney Spears.
In September of that year, Spears decided to try marriage again—this time to Kevin Federline. The couple had children together, but she filed for divorce in 2006.
5. She has two sons.
Even as a teenager, Britney knew she wanted a family. In a Variety interview in 1999, she said she wanted kids in the next four years.
In 2005, she gave birth to her first son with Kevin Federline—Sean Preston Spears Federline. Less than 12 months later, she had their second baby—another son, Jayden James Spears Federline.
The following year, Spears had shared custody of her children, but this was taken away following her mental breakdown at the end of the year. Custody was partially restored to 50/50 with her ex-husband, but reduced to 70/30 in 2019.
6. She once kissed Madonna.
In 2003, a massive MTV VMA awards publicity stunt saw Britney Spears and Madonna kiss on stage. The cameras then cut to Justin Timberlake, who was sitting in the audience, to get his reaction. He remained straight-faced.
Christina Aguilera later complained that she also kissed Madonna, although this wasn’t as publicized and didn’t show on the televised version.
7. She was once in a girl band.
In the boy band (and girl band) era of the late 90s, even Britney wasn’t immune. She joined a girl band, Innosense, which had dreams of being the American Spice Girls. Britney left the group early on, to follow her solo dreams, and the rest is history.
8. Gymnastics and dance were her passions.
Britney’s live shows were always incredibly popular at the height of her career, thanks to her high energy dance moves and impressive choreography. As a teen, she would travel an hour every day to take dance lessons, and even attended the Off-Broadway Dance Center in NYC, an interesting fact about Britney Spears.
9. She once starred in a movie.
Not content to be a one-trick pony, Spears took the main role in a 2002 movie called ‘Crossroads.’ The movie featured Zoe Saldana and Taryn Manning as Spears’ best friends, and followed the trio as they took a post-graduation road trip.
The film was a flop for critics, but was a massive commercial hit thanks to Britney’s loyal fans. Shonda Rhimes—the mastermind behind Grey’s Anatomy—directed the film. Rhimes said in an interview years later that she had planned to call the movie “Not a Girl,” but that the title was misunderstood.
10. She wanted to be an actress.
Despite her massive success as a pop star, and having spent years solidifying her place as the reigning Princess of Pop, Britney caught the acting bug. She auditioned to play Allie Calhoun, a role made famous by Rachel McAdams in the film adaptation of ‘The Notebook,’ a crazy fact about Britney Spears.
The film would have seen her star opposite Ryan Gosling, her old friend from the Mickey Mouse Club.
In the early 2000s there was talk of a development deal the pop princess signed on for with the studio that bought us ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ She was rumored to appear in the ‘Buffy’ franchise, ‘Freaks & Geeks,’ and several other major TV shows at the time, but nothing ever translated into an acting career.
The Princess of Pop has certainly had a rollercoaster career over her two decades in showbiz. Currently on an “indefinite” hiatus after a best-selling Las Vegas residency for ‘Britney: Piece of Me,” loyal Britney fans wait anxiously to see what happens next for one of the world’s most famous popstars.
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