'I'm a Britney Spears Lookalike. Her Family Were Shocked By Our Likeness'

One day in the summer of 1998, Britney Spears' song "...Baby One More Time" came on a music video channel and my sister said to my mom, "doesn't she look like Michaela?" My mom tilted her head, looked at the screen and said yes. But I didn't think much of it until I was 14 in 2002, when Britney released "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman." That's when more people started saying I looked like her. I'd go shopping with friends and there would be random people shouting, "Oi, Britney!"

I felt really awkward about it but comments happened more and more often, and then, my mom saw an advert in a newspaper for lookalikes wanted for a TV show. I was really hesitant but in the end I sent in a photo. They didn't have me on the show that year, but the following year, they called me again; I booked it and filmed it, but it never aired.

It was disappointing but it actually opened up a lot of doors for me. There were around 30 other lookalikes there, all saying I should do Britney lookalike work as a career. A lookalike of David Brent from the UK version of The Office said I should get some professional photos and that if I could learn to talk, sing and dance like Britney there were so many things I could do. And, I remember talking to a Justin Timberlake lookalike who told me about getting into VIP parties because people thought he was Justin. I thought I'd give it a go and signed up to an agency. It spiralled from there.

To begin with I was just doing lookalike work, I'd never sung or danced and I had no stage experience. I remember I did a job with the photographer Alison Jackson who explores the idea of celebrity through lookalike photography. After Britney had been photographed without any underwear on a night out, she asked me if I would do a shoot pulling on big granny panties. My feeling was that it was saying: what do you want from her? Do you want her to go out in huge panties when she has a glamorous dress on? I look back and wonder if it was something I should have done, I later worried it may look like I was poking fun of Britney, but that wasn't the intention at all—I was 17 and it was a totally new industry to me.

So I was still in the very early stages of doing lookalike work when Britney's mental health issues were widely publicized in 2007. An agent called me up and asked if I had shaved my hair like Britney, I remember saying no and asking incredulously if that was something I was supposed to do. They told me no, but explained that one lookalike had shaved her hair off. If they had asked me to do that I would have been out.

There's so much more awareness around what Britney was going through now. I remember really trying to defend her, and looking back, there was a massive lack of understanding for everything she was going through. I remember feeling really torn about whether doing lookalike work for someone who was struggling was the right thing to do. I vowed to myself that I wouldn't do anything that was disrespectful towards Britney or put her in a bad light.

I did eventually bring singing and dancing into my lookalike work. When I was 19, I got a call asking if I'd be interested in performing a show as Britney at a charity event. A friend taught me some of Britney's dance moves and I got a headset microphone that didn't plug into anything and I did a remix of Britney's songs. I remember coming off stage and someone saying it was the most authentic Britney tribute they'd ever seen.

So far, I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world as Britney, from Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York to Dubai, Oman, Turkey, Istanbul, Singapore and all over Europe. I was once asked to walk into a bar with a man so he could win a bet with his friends. I refused that because I felt it would have made me feel uncomfortable, but the majority of my inquiries are for genuine jobs, like performances at birthdays, weddings and corporate events. I've even been in a music video for the band, Kaiser Chiefs.

Michaela Weeks in a Britney Spears lookalike
Michaela Weeks in a Britney Spears lookalike
Michaela Weeks in a Britney Spears lookalike

In 2011 I spent time in Dubai for a big show and then performed sets for several nights with Justin Timberlake and Will Smith lookalikes, and I did a job in Singapore at a five star hotel where they arranged a flash mob to 'You Drive Me Crazy' and then I came out and performed. When I arrived, the staff all applauded as I came into the room. It was really overwhelming, I remember thinking, "please don't applaud, I haven't done anything!"

When I'm getting ready for a job and in my full Britney makeup, people do stand back and double take—it can be insane. I've been to Britney concerts dressed as Britney and not been able to move because I've taken photos with everybody who asked until the concert has started. But I'm always so flattered and I'm really lucky to be in that position. Generally people know I'm not actually Britney and think it's really bizarre I look like her, but I have the occasional person who comes up and tells me they have bought all "my" music. It tends to be when there is a language barrier so it's hard to let them know I'm not Britney without being rude. I try to look at it that a person has gone away smiling. But in day-to-day life I can go to the supermarket or get fuel and nobody bothers me.

I've met Britney a couple of times, I went to Las Vegas in 2014 to get married and I really wanted to meet her so I booked a backstage meet and greet for her show on November 1. My husband and I were getting married on November 2 so my hen party was going to be meeting Britney!

Then, on October 31, Britney posted on social media that she wanted to see everybody's "Britneyween" costumes and the best would win VIP seats. I almost didn't go dressed as Britney but I talked myself into it, and as soon as I got to Planet Hollywood, everyone was asking for photos. We decided to book tickets for the show that night and I sent in a picture on Twitter to enter the competition. As we went into the arena, one of the hostesses said she would upgrade us to the standing area at the front and staff and security teams actually came over because they thought I was Britney. As we were in the pit waiting for the show to start, someone came over and said, "you've won the competition. Britney handpicked you herself. She's gone through all the entrants and picked you as the winner." I asked them to tell Britney thank you, and that she had made my dream come true.

We were given a VIP table with waitress service and Britney's then assistant came over and told me that Britney was going to be so excited when she saw me, because I looked so much like her. I told her I had won the competition and she was really happy for me. Then Britney's dad Jamie Spears came over and tapped me on the shoulder and said hello. I felt so starstruck, I'd followed Britney for years. He asked if it was OK to introduce me to some of his friends so they came over and we took photos, and off he went. Then her mom Lynne Spears came over and said hi. She said it was really surreal how much I looked like Britney. I was speechless for a moment. I mean, Britney's mom had said I look like her daughter!

The show was about to start when Britney's security came over and said Britney had invited me backstage and asked for a photo with me. Of course, I agreed. They took me backstage and saw her sons skateboarding there. I remember hearing them say, "wait, is that momma?!" and thinking how surreal it was.

Michaela Weeks in a Britney Spears lookalike
Michaela Weeks and Britney Spears and a meet and greet in Las Vegas in 2014. Michaela Weeks

People had always said I looked like Britney but I'd always had doubts and been self conscious, so it felt really good. Then, a woman with a pink wig walked up to me, and I suddenly realized it was Britney. It was quite brief, I had a photo and I thanked her but I recall feeling an overwhelming sense of strength coming from her, feeling that she was such a strong woman. At the same time, she was also incredibly shy, humble and sweet.

I went back to my seat thinking, "Wow!" and then Britney posted our photo on her social media. I got thousands of followers on Instagram overnight. The next day I was on a cloud all day and, since I'd already booked the meet and greet, I was able to go and meet her and thank her again. We didn't speak more than that though. The meet and greets were like a military operation, we were told not to put our hands in our pockets or give Britney anything. I remember thinking her team was perhaps a little uptight, but understanding that she was a huge star.

I first became aware of the "Free Britney" movement in 2019 through "Britneys Gram" podcast. and I find it very upsetting to hear what Britney has said about her family and the people around her with everything going on in the conservatorship. Honestly, I feel guilty for not realising something was amiss sooner. When I think about when I met her and her family it just makes me sad. Everything seemed so normal. Her family were polite and seemed pleasant, and that they were proud of her. I wonder if I was naive and I do have a sense of guilt for not realising what she was going through. It's all very sad, and confusing and I support Britney 100 percent in whatever she chooses to do going forward.

Britney has given the world so much in terms of her music and I have seen first hand—obviously on a much smaller scale than her—how she has positively impacted so many people's lives. I would love nothing more than to watch her live a normal life, have more children and get married if she wants to, but I'd also be thrilled to see her perform again too, knowing it was all on her own terms, that the show and everything she does is what she wants to be doing.

When I'm in costume and "being Britney" it's surreal yet amazing, people often treat you like you are a celebrity. They're kind and accommodating. If it means they can share a fun "Britney moment" with their friends and family, I think that's a good thing.

But I don't feel like I'm famous when I'm impersonating Britney, I feel like it is a very small glimpse into what her life must be like. I am thankful that I can take off my makeup and costume at the end of the working day and just be a normal member of society. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for celebrities to never be able to turn fame off.

Michaela Weeks in a Britney Spears lookalike
Michaela Weeks in a Britney Spears lookalike

I've never had any surgery to look more like Britney. I wear brown coloured contact lenses, because my eyes are blue, but the rest is simply down to styling my hair and makeup. Obviously I know there are differences in our appearance but I think it's important to be able to embrace yourself too. People always ask me, "why do you want to be someone else? Be yourself!" I get what they're saying but I think they don't realize that I am myself 90 percent of the time. My career is only a part of who I am.

I'm not sure if I will ever stop impersonating Britney, I have to try and take each day as it comes, and while I'm enjoying it, I have no reason to stop. If Britney said, "I don't like when people perform tribute shows as me, I wish they wouldn't," of course, I would stop. I feel like Britney has given me so much without ever realising it, I would never want to do anything that was against her wishes.

Michaela Weeks is a Britney Spears lookalike and impersonator based in the U.K. You can find out more at britneyspearslookalike.com and follow her on Instagram as @britalike.

All views expressed in this article are the author's own.

As told to Jenny Haward.