The town of Kentwood, Louisiana, proudly — and loudly — trumpets the fact that it is the birthplace of Britney Spears, whether it’s on the city’s official Web site (“Kentwood, Louisiana — Wonderful Water, Woodlands and Wildlife … Britney Spears’ Hometown”) or in the Britney Spears exhibit at the Kentwood Museum (“Full of Britney memorabilia and much more!”).
Naturally, over the years, citizens of the tiny town on the Louisiana/Mississippi border have become increasingly protective of their most famous export … a level of protection that apparently extends to that export’s 16-year-old sister, Jamie Lynn.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past 72 hours, you’re no doubt aware that Jamie Lynn recently announced that she was 12-weeks pregnant , info that was met with equal parts shock and support from her fans and fellow celebs.
So on Thursday, MTV News decided to head up Interstate 55 to Kentwood (we were already in New Orleans for an interview with Brad Pitt) to get some local reactions. And let’s just say we weren’t exactly welcomed with open arms. Our camera was shooed away from the Kentwood First Baptist Church (where Jamie Lynn and her boyfriend, Casey Aldridge, reportedly first met), the museum and local hot spots like Sonic and Pizza Inn. Townspeople greeted us with glares or “no comments,” and at every stop, pickup trucks whizzed by, horns blaring.
But we did manage to talk to a few locals, who, quite honestly, weren’t too shocked to learn that Britney’s little sister was pregnant, either because teen pregnancies aren’t all that uncommon in Kentwood, or because, after all, she is Britney’s little sister.
“They tried to keep it secret, I don’t know why. In Kentwood, everything gets out. You got kids who are 13 or 14 and pregnant in Kentwood, we’re about used to it around here,” Donald Church said. “But it seems like a big deal around here. … A lot of people can’t believe it. I used to work with her dad, and I couldn’t believe it. You know, little Jamie … it’s kind of freaky.”
“I heard about it on the radio, they were talking about it. It’s real popular down there. Everybody knows about them,” Raynard Norman laughed. “It’s embarrassing, kind of. If it’s not her, it’s Britney, so at least it’s not Britney this time. But I’m not surprised, not really. … Nobody’s surprised because it’s not uncommon with her family. Next time, use a condom.”
Those who agreed to speak with us also seemed mixed on just what to make of Jamie Lynn’s situation. Some viewed her as just another teenage girl, while others noted that she has plenty of young fans who view her as a role model, and as such, she should’ve put more thought into her actions.
“I heard not too long ago. I think it’s fine, you know? I congratulate her and her baby, wish them the best of luck. I wasn’t surprised. That’s life,” said Shainberly Young, an employee at the Popeyes Chicken & Biscuits that Spears frequents when she’s back home in Kentwood. “Me, personally, I have a little sister, she’s that age, and she’s pregnant, so I’m gonna support my sister from here on out. Everybody’s got to live. People here are saying, ‘Britney Spears’ sister is pregnant, OK, she’s pregnant. Let her handle her own business.’ ”
“I’ve been seeing it in the papers and all that. It’s not that big of a town, so it gets out pretty quick. It’s kind of a surprise, but not really, if you look at her sister and the crap with her,” Barry Church added. “[But] it’s not something to look up to. You’ve got all these little girls looking up to you and you’re 16 and pregnant. That’s not setting a good example at all. If some little 16-year-old girl would’ve gotten pregnant, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but since it’s Britney Spears’ little sister, it’s a different story.”
Do you think Jamie Lynn is setting a poor example for her fans? Has she damaged her career? Share your thoughts below.