Britney Spears Calls Her 2003 Diane Sawyer Interview A “Breaking Point”

“It seemed like nobody really cared how I felt.”

In her new memoir, 'The Woman In Me,' Britney Spears writes about how her 2003 Diane Sawyer intervie...
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After her high-profile breakup with Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears sat down with Diane Sawyer in 2003. In her new memoir, The Woman in Me, Spears reveals why the interview was a “breaking point” that left her feeling exploited and embarrassed.

“It was completely humiliating,” Spears, who was 21 years old at the time, writes of the probing sit-down. “I wasn’t told what the questions would be ahead of time, and it turned out they were 100 percent embarrassing. I was too vulnerable then, too sensitive, to do this type of interview.”

Sawyer conducted the Primetime interview, which aired in November 2003, in Spears’ apartment — a place that had normally been a refuge for the singer. In her book, Spears recalls being “forced to speak” to the journalist, who she says “relentlessly” hurled “harsh” questions, expecting her to explain why she caused Timberlake “so much suffering,” as he had claimed.

A Flipped Switch

Spears didn’t want to participate in the interview partly because she felt she didn’t “owe” the media any details about her breakup.

“I felt like I had been exploited, set up in front of the whole world. The interview was a breaking point for me internally — a switch had been flipped,” she writes. “I felt something dark come over my body. I felt myself turning, almost like a werewolf, into a Bad Person.”

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Spears continues, “I honestly feel like that moment in my life should have been a time for growing — and not sharing everything with the world. It would have been the better way to heal. But I had no choice. It seemed like nobody really cared how I felt.”

The #FreeBritney Reckoning

Sawyer also referred to Spears’ abs as the “most valuable square inch of real estate in the entertainment universe,” noting that she had “upset a lot of mothers in this country” by projecting a sexier image. The interview previously regained attention — and widespread fan backlash — on the heels of The New York Times' 2021 Framing Britney Spears documentary.

Nearly two decades later, Spears called out Sawyer in a lengthy since-deleted Instagram message. “Do we dare forget the Diane Sawyer interview in my apartment almost 20 years ago?” she wrote in December 2021, according to People. “What was with the ‘You’re in the wrong’ approach?? Geeze... and making me cry???”

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At the time, Spears revealed that she “couldn’t talk” after the breakup. “I was in shock... pretty lame of my dad and three men to show up at my door when I could hardly speak... two days later they put Diane Sawyer in my living room... they forced me to talk!” (In a statement to People, Jamie Spears’ lawyer, Alex Weingarten, countered that Jamie was “completely uninvolved” in planning the interview.)

Along with the Diane Sawyer interview, Spears also opened up about her family and conservatorship treatment in The Woman in Me, out now.