Britney Spears revisits the interview that made her cry in 2003

Since Britney Spears’ 13-year-long conservatorship ended, the pop princess has been getting real with fans via the medium of Instagram, posting lengthy captions that call out family members, so-called celebrity friends, the state of California – and now, broadcaster Diane Sawyer, who interviewed Britney shortly after her breakup with Justin Timberlake when she was just 21 years old.

During the interview, which you can watch below, Sawyer is felt by some to be judgemental in tone, and using ‘gotcha journalism’ techniques, shaming Spears for a photoshoot in Esquire magazine and forcing the young singer to defend her choices, expose her insecurities and discuss distressing topics. The interview is also cut together with other celebrities criticising the star, from a governor’s wife who claims she would like to shoot Britney to Bette Midler who calls her tacky.  

Spears comes off well for a young woman placed on the defensive by an intrusive interview, challenging the public expectation that she must be perfect and refusing to engage with certain narratives. But in her latest Instagram post – since deleted – Spears looks back on the experience with the clarity of hindsight. ‘Do we dare forget the Diane Sawyer interview in my apartment almost 20 years ago??? What was with the “you’re in the wrong” approach?? Geeze… and making me cry??? Seriously though…’

In her condemnation of Sawyer’s approach, the entertainer also illustrates the long-term impact the experience had on her: ‘I lived in my apartment for a year and never spoke to anyone… Something I never shared when I had that big break up years ago was that I couldn’t talk afterwards… I never spoke to anyone for a long time…’

Britney Spears and Diane Sawyer.
Britney Spears and Diane Sawyer. Image: Getty

Spears also suggested that her father Jamie exploited of her fame, claiming that he and three men showed up at her door and ‘forced’ her to talk to Sawyer when she wasn’t ready, implying that it was traumatic in itself.

Jamie Spears’ lawyer, Alex Weingarten, denied any involvement, telling People that ‘Mr Spears has no idea what Ms Spears is talking about. Jamie never set up any interview with Diane Sawyer and was not present for any such interview. He had nothing to do with Britney’s career at this point and was completely uninvolved in this interview. Jamie loves Britney very much, wishes Britney nothing but the best and hopes that she continues to seek the help that she needs to stay safe and healthy.’