It's been awhile since Jamie Lynn Spears has been on screens. After her iconic Nickelodeon series Zoey 101 ended in 2008, she put acting on the back burner for over a decade. But now, she's back, and Jamie Lynn Spears' Sweet Magnolias role is an easy reminder of why fans loved her so much as a teen.
Sweet Magnolias, which dropped its first season on Netflix on May 19, is based on the Sweet Magnolias romance novels by Sherryl Woods. It chronicles the story of three women — Maddie Townsend (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Dana Sue Sullivan (Brooke Elliott) ,and Helen Decatur (Heather Headley) — as they support each other through the ups and downs of adulthood in the South.
Spears plays Noreen Fitzgibbons, a young nurse who had an affair Maddie's husband, Dr. Bill Townsend (Chris Klein), and got pregnant as a result. As the series is set in the fictional small town of Serenity, South Carolina, news of the affair is widespread and her character becomes an easy subject for town gossip.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Spears elaborated on why this role drew her back to acting. "I fell in love with the part. It's that simple. I didn't want to do something just to do it," she explained. "I didn't want to come back and do something that I didn't connect to, because I knew that would read on camera, and then that might blow my chances of ever getting another job."
Connecting to the character of Noreen was easy for Spears, as they both had to deal with a fair amount of scrutiny because of their pregnancies (Spears became pregnant with her first child at age 16). "For this part, I really just drew from the experience of being a young girl who was trying to do what was best for her and her child." she told The Hollywood Reporter. "I was under a microscope, and in Noreen's case, she has the whole town of Serenity watching her. So there are definitely parallels there."
Spears says the return to acting, although "nerve-racking" at first, is a very welcome change to what she's been up to since Zoey 101. "I had been in denial, not really admitting to myself how much I missed acting," she told THR. "With acting, I was just waiting for a project that made sense." She spent the last decade working on music — writing songs for herself and others in Nashville — and caring for her family, which now consists of her children Maddie (age 11) and Ivey (age 2), and her husband Jamie Watson.
"To get this opportunity was amazing to me," she went on to say. "I was so excited to be working again, and that outweighed the fear completely."
Sweet Magnolias Season 1 is on Netflix now.