By Charlotte McLaughlin, PA Senior Entertainment Reporter
Fenton Bailey, who directed Britney Spears in a documentary about her life, has said she is a “sweet, normal and shy” person.
The filmmaker got to know the pop star during the 2013 documentary I Am Britney Jean when she was releasing a new album and had her first Las Vegas residency.
"I learned everything I know from television, and you can learn everything I know from this book." - @RuPaul 📺
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— World of Wonder (@WorldOfWonder) March 30, 2023
Bailey said, when they filmed Spears, as she released 2013’s Britney Jean, he discovered that she is a “normal, boring person” and described her as “sweet and lovely” and “shy”.
He added: “She says…’It pays to be aggressive, and speak your mind’ and she said, ‘I’m just not like that, you know, I’m shy, I’m thoughtful about what other people are thinking, I care what other people think’.
Spears was under a complex legal arrangement, started in 2008, which allowed her father Jamie to control her freedom and finances.
The 41-year-old American singer fought to end her conservatorship which after 13 years in November 2021 was terminated by a judge in Los Angeles terminated– a legal arrangement that is usually reserved for the very ill or old.
During the court case, fans often appeared outside holding signs saying “free Britney”.
Bailey also said: “I just think that the fact (is the) free Britney movement may not have done her any favours.”
When asked about what he thought going into working with her, he said: “I sensed a disconnect between the way she was treated in the media, and the work she was doing.
“I felt that albums, like Blackout and Circus. I thought they were masterpieces.
“So I couldn’t, I couldn’t quite get…It was just (it) seemed so weird to me that there was this sort of critical pile on, you know, negative attention.”
He added that discovering during the documentary that she was “a normal person” was a revelation.
Bailey said he “didn’t get” the same conclusion as the filmmakers of Framing Britney Spears, which examines her treatment at the hands of the media and led to renewed interest in her conservatorship.
At tonight’s #ScreenAge signing + Q&A, @fbailey and @michellevisage talked the current wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and what we can do to support our community.
Learn more and join us in supporting the Drag Defense Fund benefitting @ACLU at 👉 https://t.co/fZQIHpAN3v pic.twitter.com/KlxxppKx01
— World of Wonder (@WorldOfWonder) March 29, 2023
Spears, who did not authorise the programme, later said she did not “watch the documentary” but what she has seen of it left her “embarrassed by the light they put me in”.
Speaking about his World of Wonder (Wow) produced documentary that was authorised by Spears, Bailey also said: “When we made (our documentary), she did seem to have a good relationship with her parents and manager and that’s not to say that… there could well have been tensions underneath that we didn’t see.”
Bailey co-founded Wow, which created multiple Emmy-award winning reality TV show Ru Paul’s Drag Race, with Randy Barbato, and has also released a book about his work in TV.
He said: “People are infinitely varied and drag celebrates that Drag Race celebrates that, but variety, and makes everybody feel welcome and included and television is the sort of delivery device of that idea.
“It’s a really important idea in terms of who we’re going to be as a people in the future and I think you’re seeing I think we’re seeing a backlash to that right now in the states.”
Bailey’s book ScreenAge: How TV Shaped Our Reality From Tammy Faye To RuPaul’s Drag Race was released on March 28.