Zoey 101’s Jamie Lynn Spears says pregnant Sweet Magnolias role was a ‘wink’ from universe after giving birth at 17

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AFTER more than a decade since wrapping her Nickelodeon series Zoey 101, Jamie Lynn Spears is returning to acting with her new Netflix show, Sweet Magnolias.

The actress stars as a “young and pregnant” woman in the romantic drama series and considers this art-imitating-life role a “wink and laugh” from the universe after her own teen pregnancy in 2008.


Jamie Lynn Spears plays Noreen Fitzgibbons, a pregnant young woman having an affair with married Bill Townsend (Chris Klein) on Netflix’s new show, Sweet Magnolias[/caption]

Based on Sherryl Woods’ book series of the same name, Sweet Magnolias follows lifelong best friends Maddie (Joanna Garcia Swisher), Helen (Heather Headley) and Dana Sue (Brooke Elliott), and their careers and relationships, in the small town of Serenity, South Carolina.

Releasing on Netflix on May 19, Jamie Lynn, 29, plays Noreen Fitzgibbons, a woman in her early 20s who’s been having an affair with Maddie’s husband, Bill Townsend (Chris Klein), and learns she’s pregnant with his kid.

In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Jamie Lynn said it was “random” and unintentional her first acting role back, after over a decade away, was that of a young and pregnant woman.

Still, she believes things happen for a reason and it was all a “wink and laugh” from the “universe” after she gave birth to her first child, Maddie, when she was 17 and coming off of a Nickelodeon show.


The mother of two had to wear a fake baby bump for most of the filming for the series[/caption]


After giving birth to her oldest daughter, Maddie, when she was 17 years old, Jamie Lynn said it was a ‘wink’ from the universe that she’s now playing a young and pregnant woman[/caption]

The 29-year-old added: “I think that was just kind of the way of the world telling me, ‘Look, hey, it’s time. Hey, by the way, you’re gonna be pregnant.’

“So, I think it was just kind of a nice little nod to almost laugh at myself and, at the same time, to tell a story I really connect to.”

Jamie Lynn knew she wanted to portray this character because Noreen and her story, as “a young girl who is pregnant in not the ideal situation and trying to do the best she can,” just “really hit home” for her.

The actress starred on Nickelodeon’s popular boarding school-set series, Zoey 101, as Zoey Brooks from its premiere in 2005 until its finale in 2008.

Handout – Getty

She added it was a ‘nice little nod’ and a way to ‘laugh’ at herself[/caption]


Sweet Magnolias is Jamie Lynn’s first acting gig since her Nickelodeon show, Zoey 101, ended in 2008[/caption]

Months before the show ended, the then-16-year-old actress announced she was pregnant with her first child, leading fans to later jump to the conclusion that her pregnancy was the reason for the program ending.

Last year, she finally put all the rumors to rest and marked the 14th anniversary of Zoey 101’s premiere with a video of the opening credits and the hashtags #itdidNOTendbecauseofpregnancy and #contractwasfinished.

Jamie Lynn cleared up any residual confusion in the comments section, explaining it did not end because she was “pregnant,” and that she “went home to finish high school and was going to pursue movies.”

Another fan asked if her Zoey 101 contract would’ve been extended under different circumstances, and she simply revealed, “No.”


Fans originally believed the actress’ teen pregnancy led to the show’s cancelation, but she put those rumors to rest last year[/caption]

Handout – Getty

Jamie Lynn revealed to fans the show was always going to end because contracts were up and were not going to be extended[/caption]

Now, Jamie Lynn, who’s participating in a virtual charity dinner with sister Britney on Thursday, is married to Jamie Watson, the mother of two daughters — Maddie, 11, and Ivey, 2 — and gearing up to make her grand return to acting.

There was no specific switch that flipped to let her know it was the right time to get back into the industry, but the Sleepover singer was just waiting for the “right situation” and wanted to have “time away to grow up a little bit.”

After putting feelers out and taking meetings, she realized “this part just felt right.”

As she’d spent quite a few years out of the acting game, she was “extremely nervous” when she first got to the Sweet Magnolias set and found herself wondering: “Do I suck? Am I good at this?”

Getty Images – Getty

Aside from her acting return next week, Jamie Lynn, along with sister Britney Spears, is taking part of a virtual charity dinner on Thursday[/caption]

Getty Images – Getty

Jamie Lynn put out a few songs, as well as wrote for other artists, during her time away from acting[/caption]

Despite being unsure of herself and her abilities in the beginning, her “appreciation for being there” outweighed her insecurities and helped allow her to push through and “tell a story” she thought was so “good.”

Plus, after having just given birth to her second daughter, Ivey, a year before she started filming Sweet Magnolias, Jamie Lynn felt like she only connected with the role even more.

Jamie Lynn told The Sun: “Obviously, me being a mom, and, at that time, my youngest was only a year old last summer, so I felt like I had really just been there.

“It was really close to me at that time. So, I was really able to understand that you start to see things differently when you have another little human inside of you.

“I was able to use that when deciding how she would react to certain situations.”


She filmed Sweet Magnolias more than a decade after filming the ending of Zoey 101[/caption]


When she at last returned to acting, the 29-year-old shared she was ‘nervous’ when she first got to set[/caption]

Though she felt “nervous” about her acting return, Jamie Lynn’s Sweet Magnolias cast and crew were so impressed by her and what she brought to the character of Noreen.

Chris, who was her main scene partner on the show as Bill, told The Sun she’s an “amazing performer” and had a “spectacular time” working together.

Co-executive producer and director Norman Buckley shared that Jamie Lynn “brings an enormous amount of heart to the character that could be unsympathetic but is not because she plays it with such a genuine heart.”


Jamie Lynn’s cast and crew are very impressed by the work she’s done on the show[/caption]


Executive producers on the show said she adds ‘layers’ and ‘heart’ to the character[/caption]

He added: “I can’t imagine anyone else playing the part. I was quite taken with her.

“…She brought something to the character that I think is really unique and extraordinary.

“I think people will be very surprised by the complexity other work in the show. She’s quite wonderful.”

Sweet Magnolias showrunner Sheryl J. Anderson echoed Norman’s thoughts, explaining the actress “brought layers to the character that we weren’t expecting, and it was gorgeous.”

Sheryl added: “She brought more to the character than we could have hoped for. She’s gonna knock [viewers’] socks off.”

All 10 episodes of Sweet Magnolias season 1 releases on Netflix on May 19.

The cast will be participating in a virtual watch party that same day at 4 p.m. with each other and with fans.