Best known for her sultry image as a pop superstar, Britney Spears actually began her youthful career as an actress -- the singing came later. Spears was born December 2, 1981, in Kentwood, LA. A mere eight years later, she was auditioning for The Mickey Mouse Club, although she wouldn't be added to the cast for another three years. She spent summers schooling at New York's Off-Broadway Dance Center and the Professional Performing Arts School, and earned a role on the off-Broadway play Ruthless in 1991. A year later, she became a Mouseketeer, and was part of the show from the time she was 11 until she was 13.
After returning home for a short time to become a "regular" high-school student, Spears was signed to the Jive record label, and finished recording her first album as a vocalist in 1998. Released in 1999, ...Baby One More Time was a smash hit, and in conjunction with Spears' stunning good looks, rocketed her to superstardom. She followed up with Oops!...I Did It Again the following year, and then Britney in 2001.