- Britney Spears has been in the limelight for over 20 years, but fans might not know these fun facts.
- Her career-launching debut song “Baby One More Time” was originally intended for another artist.
- She’s been dancing and singing since she was a kid, and she won her first talent show at 6.
Though she’s best known for her pop career, the “Everytime” singer also has a background in gymnastics and dance. She honed her skills from an early age, performing in local talent competitions and recitals.
In 1999, she told Variety that she traveled an hour to take dance lessons as a kid and studied at the Off-Broadway Dance Center in New York City — which helped prepare her for touring the globe as a teen idol.
In recent years, she’s shown off her gymnastic skills both onstage and on social media, posting Instagram videos of her intense workouts and gravity-defying routines.
In 1999, Spears told Rolling Stone that she started singing into a hairbrush at just 2 years old, but she made her real debut singing “What Child Is This” at her kindergarten graduation.
She went on to win her first talent show when she was 6.
“I found out what I’m supposed to do at an early age,” she told the publication.
Spears famously starred on the Disney Channel’s “The All New Mickey Mouse Club” alongside fellow celebrities like Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, Justin Timberlake, and JC Chasez.
But she was originally rejected from the show because she was too young.
She was 8 years old at her first audition, so the casting directors told her to continue studying acting, singing, and dancing. She eventually made her triumphant return to the teen variety show in 1993.
In the time between, she starred in TV commercials, appeared on “Star Search,” and studied at New York’s Professional Performing Arts School for three summers, according to her 1999 interview with Rolling Stone.
Just before her big break on “The All New Mickey Mouse Club,” Spears landed an understudy role in the off-Broadway musical “Ruthless!”
In 2014, the show’s writer and lyricist, Joel Paley, told The New York Post about meeting Spears, who stepped in as understudy for Laura Bell Bundy.
“We thought, ‘We’re never going to find another [girl] — we’re really screwed,'” Paley said. “And that’s when we found Britney Spears.”
The 10-year-old had “singing, dancing, acting, [plus] confidence and a great mom,” and stayed on for eight months before actress Natalie Portman stepped in as the understudy.
The two formed a close friendship in later years, even co-hosting a New Year’s Eve party in 2002. And in 2013, Spears told a fan on Twitter that she’d want Portman to play her in the movie version of her life.
Spears has said that Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston were some of her early musical icons.
The first audition tape that landed her a deal with Jive Records was a performance of “I Have Nothing” by Houston, and she told Variety in 2018 that she “really admired” both her and Jackson.
But pop music wasn’t her initial direction — in fact, she told Rolling Stone in 1999 that she envisioned herself singing “Sheryl Crow music, but younger — more adult contemporary.”
Ultimately, her label decided it would be better to go more pop.
“It made more sense to go pop, because I can dance to it — it’s more me,” she said.
In the late 1990s, pop groups were all the rage, but few fans probably remember that Spears herself started out in the girl band Innosense.
According to The New York Times, the Orlando-based group was meant to be “an American version of the Spice Girls,” but Spears had big solo aspirations and left to carve out her own career.
She might have been on her way to pop superstardom, but even at 17, Spears always knew she wanted to start a family.
“I’m really happy with what I’m doing right now, but four years from now, I definitely want to have a family and children and settle down,” she told Variety in 1999.
She had her first child, Sean Preston Federline, at 23.
The “Toxic” singer finally got to flex her acting chops on the big screen in 2002’s “Crossroads.” She starred alongside Zoe Saldana and Taryn Manning as childhood best friends who embark on a post-graduation road trip together.
According to The Guardian, the original working title for the film was “Not a Girl,” inspired by the singer’s ballad “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” which appeared in the film and on her third album, “Britney.”
“Crossroads” was written by Shonda Rhimes — who went on to become one of the biggest showrunners in TV history, creating hit series such as ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away With Murder.”
When The Telegraph asked Spears about her biggest career regrets in 2013, she looked “suddenly outraged” and jokingly shouted, “No! I like Crossroads! F— you!”
Spears also paid homage to the film in her 2011 music video for “I Wanna Go,” in which a film marquee advertising “Crossroads 2: Cross Harder” can be seen in the background.
In 2014, after Saldana praised Spears and her acting abilities in an interview with Andy Cohen, the singer tweeted a GIF from the film, thanking the actress for the kind words and adding, “Truly the sweetest … Nothing but great memories of working w u. Crossroads pt 2?”
At the height of her musical success, Spears had acting on the brain.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the star landed a development deal with the studio behind “Dawson’s Creek.” She was also offered small roles on teen shows like “Freaks and Geeks” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” But her popularity never materialized into a TV career.
In a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, she also said that producers came calling for a role in “Grease 3.”
Ryan Gosling ultimately starred alongside Rachel McAdams in the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ tragic love story, but according to Entertainment Tonight, Spears auditioned to play Allie.
Some fans might not remember that Spears had her own reality show with then-husband Kevin Federline in 2005.
“Britney and Kevin: Chaotic” was short-lived, but the pop icon doesn’t seem to have fond memories of the UPN docuseries.
“I would never do something like that again,” she told The Telegraph in 2013. “Actually, that was really bad. That was probably the worst thing I’ve done in my career.”
In 2012, Spears judged on the second season of “The X Factor” in the US.
At the time, she negotiated a huge paycheck — reportedly $15 million — for her single-season run, which made her one of the highest-paid celebrity judges in TV history.
However, Spears was knocked from her reality-TV throne in 2018, when Katy Perry earned a reported $25-million salary on ABC’s “American Idol.”
Spears’ debut single inspired one of the most iconic music videos of all time, but the schoolgirl outfit and hallway dance break almost never happened.
She told Rolling Stone in 1999 that director Joseph Khan had an animated vision for the video.
“They had this really bizarre video idea, this animated Power Ranger-y thing. I said, ‘This is not right. If you want me to reach 4-year-olds, then OK, but if you want me to reach my age group …'”
She continued, “So I had this idea where we’re in school and bored out of our minds, and we have Catholic uniforms on. And I said, ‘Why don’t we have knee-highs and tie the shirts up to give it a little attitude?’ — so it wouldn’t be boring and cheesy.”
Even at the earliest stages of her career, Spears had a strong vision for her music videos.
She told MTV in 2000 that the outer space-inspired video for “Oops! I Did It Again” was her idea.
“I want to be dancing on Mars … I want to be in a red jumpsuit. I want to have a really cute spaceman, but there can’t be any rockets,'” she said.
Of the red catsuit, director Nigel Dick told MTV, “There was another catsuit, actually, which was fantastic, which I loved, and the night before, I was told that Britney hired this guy that worked with Michael Jackson. And so we’re going to use that [red] catsuit. So that’s the catsuit.”
Spears has made plenty of iconic music videos, but her personal favorite will probably surprise fans.
In 2011, she told Harper’s Bazaar that her favorite video is “Overprotected.”
“I just think it says a lot. It was directed so well, it was really colorful, and the dancing was amazing,” she said.
Timberlake is arguably her most famous ex, but Spears was also involved with British royalty. Reports circulated that she was talking to Prince William online before she linked up with the *NSYNC crooner.
According to People magazine, she’d been “quite friendly” with the young royal in the early 2000s.
Per People, in a 2002 interview on “The Frank Skinner Show,” Spears told the host, “Yeah, it was just like, all blown out of proportion — we exchanged emails for a little bit, and he was supposed to come and see me somewhere, but it didn’t work out.”
The singer has found success in the perfume industry, creating a billion-dollar business featuring over 20 fragrances since the release of her first perfume, Curious, in 2004.
A Revlon rep told InStyle magazine in 2018 that her fragrant concoctions have made more than $1 billion in sales.
Not everything that Spears touches turns to gold.
In 2002, she opened Nyla — an homage to New York and her home state of Louisiana — in New York City.
The restaurant was open for just a few months before Spears parted ways with management, according to MTV News.
According to MTV, the debut single that put Spears on the path to global pop domination, “Baby One More Time,” was actually meant for TLC. But the R&B group turned it down.
Similarly, Cathy Dennis told Ivors Academy in 2018 that she originally wrote “Toxic” with Spears’ music idol Jackson in mind.
“Hold It Against Me” kicked off the singer’s “Femme Fatale” era in 2011, and songwriter Bonnie McKee said that the sensual, steamy lyrics were inspired by Perry.
In 2017, a fan asked McKee about the song on Twitter, and she replied by writing, “The inspiration for [Britney Spears]’s song ‘Hold it Against Me’ was [Katy Perry]’s babely bod. True story.”
In a 2004 radio interview on KIIS-FM, Spears said she was halfway done with a new album, which she called “Original Doll.”
According to BuzzFeed, during the interview, she played a snippet from a new song, “Mona Lisa,” but it was never released, and the album never materialized.