Updated June 23, 2021, 9:22 p.m. ET
Speaking to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge over a remote connection, Britney Spears made her most public statement on Wednesday afternoon about her long guardianship. For more than a decade, the pop star’s life has been governed by an atypical court-dictated legal arrangement that takes away virtually all autonomy. So far, she has been mostly silent on the subject.
In a passionate statement to the judge, she pleaded for the end of the guardianship. According to tweets sent by on-site observers and some sounds heard by NPR, Spears was sternly open and candid about her situation.
“I feel tied up, I feel bullied and I feel left out and alone,” Spears said. “And I’m tired of feeling lonely.”
She detailed parts of her life that were unknown. She said she was exploited and couldn’t sleep, was depressed and cried every day.
Spears recalled an incident in which she did not want to do an additional series of shows in Las Vegas. She felt relieved when her masters said she didn’t have to do the shows anymore, but suspected there would be consequences. A few days later, Spears said her therapist told her he heard she was not cooperating. She said he then took her off her regular medications and put her on a lithium diet.
In another shocking revelation, Spears said she wanted to have another child, but was forced to keep an IUD in place.
Throughout her statement, Spears reminded the judge that it was her job to financially support the people who controlled her, namely her father, Jamie Spears.
“All I want is to own my money and make it end,” she said.
Advocacy may be Spears’ last public word on the matter. Through her lawyer, Samuel Ingham III, she said the statement was all she wanted the public to hear and suggested that the proceedings now be sealed.
Jamie Spears, who was in charge of Spears’ guardianship, said through his lawyer that he was sorry to see his daughter in so much pain and missed and loved her very much.
The hearing ended without resolution.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny called Spears’ remarks “courageous” and said Spears would have to file a formal motion asking for an end to guardianship before they could make a decision.
Before Wednesday, after a recent New York Times and FX documentary, Coaching Britney Spears, rekindled interest in its history and #FreeBritney movement, she had avoided public comment, but shared some thoughts on social media.
“I didn’t watch the documentary but from what I saw I was embarrassed by the light they put me in,” she wrote in an Instagram caption in March. “I cried for two weeks and well …. I still cry sometimes !!!!”
Tuesday, The New York Times, citing recently obtained confidential court records, reported that Spears had been trying to fight his guardianship for years.
“She explained that she believed the guardianship had become an oppressive and controlling tool against her,” a court investigator wrote in a 2016 report. The system had “too much control,” Ms. Spears said, according to the interviewer’s account of the conversation. ” Too much !
“Ms Spears informed the investigator that she wanted the guardianship to be terminated as soon as possible.” She is fed up with being exploited and she said she was the one who worked and made her money, but everyone around her is on her payroll, “the investigator wrote.
“In 2019, Ms Spears told the court that she felt forced by the guardianship to stay in a mental health facility and perform against her will.”
You can find more details on the history of his guardianship here, but here are the highlights:
In 2008, Jamie Spears took control of all aspects of her daughter’s life after the singer publicly struggled with her sanity. (As the Coaching Britney Spears The documentary brought new attention to his case, he also began an introspection among the types of media outlets who exploited his mental health issues for tabloid headlines.) Everything from his performance to his finances to his connections. with his two sons now teenagers, was under the responsibility of his father. control.
Fans of the pop star began to question the ethics and legality of the arrangement, and under the #FreeBritney banner, they waged a long campaign to see it come to an end.
Meanwhile, Britney Spears continued to work – releasing platinum albums, performing on television concerts, and hosting a hugely successful four-year residency in Las Vegas. She had no control over the financial arrangements of any of these projects.
In a 2020 court case, Spears asked the court to suspend his father from his role as curator and refused to perform if he remained in charge of his career. As a result, a wealth management company became co-custodian of its finances, but her father currently remains the primary custodian of all other aspects of Spears’ life.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Pop star Britney Spears hasn’t controlled her professional, financial or personal life for over a decade. She is under what is called a trusteeship, controlled primarily by her father, Jamie Spears. Her story garnered renewed attention after a recent New York Times documentary titled “Framing Britney Spears” examined her case. Now, Spears hasn’t spoken with the filmmakers. In fact, she was mostly silent on the matter until earlier today, when she made her first public statements about it at a hearing. Andrew Limbong from NPR is here with us now to tell us more.
ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa.
CHANG: Okay. This hearing therefore took place this afternoon. Can you just tell us what happened?
LIMBONG: Okay. Well, perhaps unsurprisingly, fans and reporters trying to come in and listen, you know, the court proceedings crashed the Los Angeles County Court website. There had therefore been technical difficulties and delays in entering. You know, I haven’t caught myself, like, quite the tail.
LIMBONG: Some fan accounts were actually able to access the stream and posted clips of what she said. You know, it’s accounts like FreeBritney Live and Britney Law Army. And then outside the courtroom there’s, you know, a bunch of FreeBritney people and fans and supporters reading some of these tweets out loud to the group as everyone cheers them on by. somehow.
CHANG: Well, what do these tweet snippets say?
LIMBONG: Well, so that’s the most candid that she’s really been about her situation. You know, she says she is – her life is being exploited and she can’t sleep and she’s depressed and she cries every day. You know, she really lacks autonomy in her life, in, you know, every aspect of her life. One of the most horrific details, I guess, would be that she said she, you know, wanted to get married and have another baby, but she has an IUD in place. And by virtue of her agreement, she says she doesn’t have the right to take it out and have another baby.
CHANGE: Whoa. OK, well, just to give everyone a bit of context here, Britney Spears has been trying for a long time to get out of this tutelage, hasn’t she?
LIMBONG: Yeah, actually, for a bit, according to a New York Times article just published yesterday. You know, they’ve – they’ve dug up confidential court records. She tried dating as early as 2014. You know, according to the Times, Spears worked privately with the court to try to get her father removed from his role as lead curator. She said she was afraid of him and the system had too much control over her life. There is another startling detail in this report which says that she felt forced to stay in a mental health facility. And she also felt, you know, compelled to play against her will.
There was a – there was a little public movement last year. Her lawyer has said in a court file that she strongly opposes her father as a conservative and refuses to perform if he remains in charge of his career. Now, you know, it didn’t take him out of power, but it added a third party – a trust management company – to be sort of a co-custodian of his estate, which, you know, I should. add, you know, that’s – his field is worth a lot. She’s worth a lot of money, and none of it is accessible to Spears herself.
CHANG: So interesting – she had this huge fan base behind her …
CHANG: … Gathering under the hashtag #FreeBritney. Tell us, what do you hear from some of these fans or do you read online?
LIMBONG: I think that’s a lot to deal with. You know, it’s a lot emotionally. But I think they feel somewhat, at least, justified or emboldened. You know every pop star has their, you know, Stan’s so-called army, but not every pop star has people like Cher tweeting yesterday that she’s making calls and trying to help free Britney. .
LIMBONG: And I think it’s a movement that, you know, it’s fair to say that it wasn’t taken very seriously until relatively recently, and it’s getting bigger and bigger. And Britney herself – she’s just kind of a nod to the movement, to the countryside. But, you know, just hours before her audition, her boyfriend actually posted on an Instagram story wearing a FreeBritney shirt, so it really gets the attention.
CHANG: A fascinating saga – that’s Andrew Limbong from NPR.
LIMBONG: Thanks, Ailsa.
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