Amber Tamblyn can relate to some of the struggles Britney Spears spoke about at her conservatorship hearing last week.
Following Spears’ explosive statement in court about the hardships she’s faced while under a conservatorship controlled by her father, Jamie Spears, Tamblyn writes in an essay for The New York Times about her own experiences as a child star.
The 38-year-old actress shares that her first breakout role happened at the age of 21 when she landed the lead in the TV series, Joan of Arcadia.
“I began making real, substantial money — money that made a big difference for my family,” she writes, noting that her family was not from a wealthy background.
At this point in her life, Tamblyn’s parents stepped in to serve as her co-managers and to help handle her finances. “My money paid for our vacations, dinners out, and sometimes even the bills,” she recalls. “When it finally came time to disentangle our personal and professional relationships, it was deeply painful for all three of us.”
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants star notes several times in the essay that her own experiences were not the same as Spears, who spoke in her testimony about the alleged control her father and his team have over her finances, reproductive decisions, and career. Tamblyn does share how even those with the best intentions can get too embedded into the finances of their celebrity family member.
“Having seen some of the complications and consequences that come with finding fame and financial success at a young age, I can attest to how challenging this combination of factors can be to navigate, even for those with the best of intentions,” she writes. “I also know how much potential they have to turn toxic and how vulnerable they can make a young woman.”
Tamblyn says her parents’ professional involvement in her life made them less close on a personal level.
“Having my parents on payroll was damaging to our relationship, whether we understood that or not,” she states. “I couldn’t shake the feeling that every time I had a conversation with my parents about money it felt as if I was asking for an allowance — only the allowance came from money I’d earned… Even though I knew there was space to call up my parents and ask for life advice, or just catch up, I rarely did so because of the roles they had taken in my life.”
The actress’ financial success also led to damaged relationships with other family members and close friends.
“I was the one they came to for a small loan or in an emergency, the one who always picked up the check,” Tamblyn writes. “At one point when I was 21, I even bought an ex-boyfriend a new car in an attempt to break up with; I was that used to using money to make people happy, or fix problems, or appease my guilt.”
Tamblyn also has a warning for Spears’ fans and the media. “When I see her giving her testimony now, I can’t help but think back to that bald Britney in 2007, raw in her rage and tired of being everyone’s spectacle,” she notes. “Even now, I can feel the world wanting to turn her recent testimony back into another episode of voyeurism — to champion her once again as our favorite mess.”
The actress concludes by praising Spears for her bravery in speaking out after 13 years under a conservatorship.
“As someone who has experienced a small taste of what Britney has gone through, I know that what she has done is a profoundly radical act — one that I hope will ripple through the bodies and bank accounts of women across industries for generations to come,” Tamblyn writes. “By speaking up, she has reminded us that our autonomy, both bodily and fiscal, is worth fighting for.”
For more on Spears’ statement to the court, watch the video below.
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