After more than a decade of silence, Britney Spears has finally spoken publicly about her conservatorship.
On Wednesday afternoon, during the latest hearing in the case of the arrangement under which she has lived since early 2008, the pop star addressed Los Angeles Superior Court judge Brenda Penny directly for the first time and argued passionately for her independence.
"I just want my life back," Spears said, appearing remotely in court. (Audio of the hearing was streamed live online.) "It's been 13 years and it's been enough."
The singer, 39, added, "It makes no sense to make a living for so many people and be told I'm not good enough, that I'm great at what I do and I allow these people to control what I do, it makes no sense at all."
Spears also said that she would like to "share my story with the world instead of being a hush-hush secret"; that her conservators have prevented her from seeing a doctor to remove an IUD so she could try to have another child; and that she wanted to be able to "handpick my own lawyer by myself," something she has not been permitted to do.
"The main reason I'm here," she said, "is I want to end the conservatorship without being evaluated."
Spears' guardianship was put in place more than 13 years ago following her highly publicized breakdown. The arrangement puts control of her personal life, career choices, and fortune of almost $60 million in the hands of her conservator - which has primarily been her father, Jamie Spears.
On Wednesday, an attorney for Jamie Spears said, "He is sorry to see his daughter suffering and in so much pain. Mr. Spears loves his daughter and misses her very much."
Image Group LA/Disney Channel via Getty Images; VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images Britney Spears and her father, Jamie Spears
The "Toxic" singer has very rarely spoken for herself in this case, expressing her wishes primarily through her attorney Samuel D. Ingham III. The message that has come across clearest through her few communications up to this point, however, is that she would like her father's role in the arrangement to be significantly reduced: In November, Ingham reportedly told the judge that Spears is "afraid of her father" and "will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career." On Tuesday, The New York Times published a report using newly obtained confidential court documents revealing that the singer has been fighting the conservatorship and her father's position within it since as early as 2014 - much longer than any outsiders realized.
When the guardianship began in 2008, Jamie was named sole conservator of Britney's person and co-conservator of her estate alongside attorney Andrew Wallet (the latter of whom left in 2019 and was replaced last year, at Britney's request, by wealth management firm Bessemer Trust). Jamie temporarily stepped down as sole conservator of Britney's person following a health episode in 2019, at which time licensed conservator Jodi Montgomery stepped into the role; Britney has made clear in court filings that she would prefer her father never resume it, and her lawyer requested earlier this year that Montgomery be appointed to the position permanently.
Following the February release of Framing Britney Spears, the latest installment in FX's series of standalone documentaries The New York Times Presents, the pop star's case has been put under a microscope and the #FreeBritney movement, first organized by fans in 2019, has picked up steam as public outrage over the mistreatment of Spears (not limited to the conservatorship, but throughout her two-decade-plus career) has intensified.
Not since 2008 has there been a period of such sustained attention to the case of and movement against Britney Spears' conservatorship. But as the star once told us herself: "All I need is time - a moment that is mine." Her moment came, and she seized it.
Additional reporting by Alex Suskind.