Britney Spears, In 10 Minutes, Backstage At The VMAs

Meeting the princess of pop, behind the scenes at the biggest awards show of the year, in Bigger Than the Sound.

I’m not sure how many times this has happened to you, but when you’re in the middle of recording voice-overs during the Video Music Awards and all of a sudden you get an email from the assistant of your bosses’ boss telling you that you have to interview Britney Spears in her dressing room in 10 minutes — man, that’s weird.

Because it’s Britney Spears. One of the hugest pop stars on the planet, constant target of the tabloids, decided enigma. She’s not exactly forthcoming with the press (for reasons that are certainly understandable) and not particularly interested in sitting down for a chat — especially when said chat is supposed to take place in her dressing room, surrounded by her team of publicists, makeup artists and friends. Needless to say, the odds of the whole thing going down in a ball of flames are pretty high.

And yet, there I was on Sunday night, winding my way through the backstage corridors of the Nokia Theatre, the VMAs literally happening all around me, on my way to meet Britney. Armed only with an email (and a rather paltry level of security clearance), I talked my way past the stone-faced security guards — who, it should be noted, didn’t seem to believe that I was about to interview Britney Spears either — found my way to her dressing-room door and awaited further instructions. As I stood there, my mind raced: What, exactly, was I going to ask her, anyway? And, perhaps more importantly, what is she really like?

After a few minutes, the door swung open, one of her publicists poked his head out and told me, quite matter-of-factly, “Britney’s ready.” I entered the tiny dressing room, scanned the faces lining the walls (publicist one, publicist two, manager Larry Rudolph, makeup artist, sister Jamie Lynn) and suddenly came face to face with Britney herself, eyes wide and sparkling, head cocked slightly, big smile on her face. I noticed the tiny pair of red dice she has tattooed on her left wrist, the hem of her black dress, the way she crossed her ankles. And then, I noticed she was looking right at me.

“Hi, I’m Britney,” she said.

No kidding.

I am happy to report that Britney Spears is a very nice person; she is funny and carries herself with a relaxed grace that belies her superstardom. We spoke about her VMA tribute — during which she spent much of the time praising others — and how, even after winning a boatload of awards, she’s still blown away each and every time her name is called. Shoot, we even laughed about Lady Gaga’s alter ego, Jo Calderone (“She’s definitely in character,” Brit laughed). In fact, the thing that struck me the most about her was her quick wit: She cracks jokes like they’re going out of style.

And while I guess you could say that I learned an awful lot about Britney on Sunday night, the biggest lesson was probably this: Basically everything you think you know about her is wrong. It’s sort of a shame she doesn’t do more interviews, because, really, I think most folks would leave feeling the same way I do. Then again, I can understand why she doesn’t. It’s sort of an uphill battle at this point.

Regardless, interviewing her was definitely a highlight, and not just because she’s press-shy. It most certainly ranks as my greatest VMA moment, even ahead of the pre-show I hosted live Sunday night. So the next time you get a panicked email and an invite to sit down with Britney, I highly recommend you respond immediately. It will definitely be worth your time.

The 28th annual MTV Video Music Awards have wrapped, but the real action is just getting started! Stick with MTV News for winners, fashion pics, video and behind-the-scenes stories about everything that went down. Visit VMA.MTV.com for the latest.