jamie lynn spears interview
photo: Katia Temkin / press

Jamie Lynn Spears & Chantel Jeffries

It’s happening! The Zoey 101 reboot is coming soon and to tide fans over until the show comes back, star Jamie Lynn Spears decided it was time to update the theme song. The song and star-studded video for “Follow Me” dropped a couple of weeks ago as a joint production between Spears and DJ and producer Chantel Jeffries. The updated song gives a more mature spin to our favorite Southern California teen — and the video includes a ton of familiar faces. Not only are some of the original cast included but today’s influencers like Dixie D’Amelio, Noah Beck, and JoJo Siwa also joined in to modernize the early 2000s song. 

Spears has had plans to reboot Zoey 101 for a while now but with COVID-19 precautions still in place, she and her team haven’t been able to get the show off the ground — yet. But she knows how much the show’s fans are thirsting for content, and the new theme song was born. I caught up with both Spears and Jeffries over Zoom — all of us in different parts of the country — to reminisce about Zoey 101 and what it was like making the new song.

What was the driving force behind this new version of the Zoey 101 theme song?
Jamie Lynn Spears: Well, the fans have been begging for a reboot. So going into 2020, my hopes and desires were to get the show in production because everyone was excited to do it. And obviously, COVID came and there were much more important things that we needed to be focusing on. During that time, my manager and I were talking and figuring out how we could continue to work towards our goal. She suggested putting the theme song out and at least giving the fans something tangible that they could have, that they would know Zoey 101 is coming and give them a little tease, a little taste of what’s to come in 2021. We can’t go through another year and not give them something of Zoey. So really that’s where the idea started. The only reason that it all happened was because of [the fans] and we couldn’t get in another year without giving them something. So it’s a little taste and tease was to come.

Chantel, what was it like joining in on this huge, well-loved show?
Chantel Jeffries: It was an amazing experience. It was very nostalgic for me, just growing up, being such a big Zoey 101 fan, and then flash forward, and being a part of it was so amazing. Getting together with all the cast and seeing how everyone has grown and seeing everyone together and then seeing them alongside the newer generation of people that are in a similar type of space was a great experience. Fangirl me was definitely screaming during this. And I had such a great time, flashing back to the early 2000s because I feel like right now everyone’s just loving that trend and fashion and hair and even music. So it was really great.

How was it with the two of you working together? What was the process of making the song?
JLS: It was a lot of Zoom. [laughs] It was really in the height of the pandemic and we set up a Zoom co-write to see if we had some chemistry and we did. We finished the song on that Zoom co-write. Kind of tweaking some words to make sense for a 29-year-old, as opposed to a 12-year-old. Then she worked from her home and then I went into a studio in Louisiana, via Zoom with the producers while I’m singing. It was very strange, holding the phone and singing. It was very weird. And then she had the vocals and we went back and forth. It was all virtual. And when I got the song back they’d worked their magic and I loved it. So it was a very weird process. 

CJ: I’ve never done Zoom stuff until then. I’ve started doing a lot of stuff on Zoom and really liked it. It’s made stuff so much more efficient because you’re able to have all these people from all these different places in one area, work on something and go into your respective place in your house to work. You don’t have to travel anywhere.

Jamie Lynn, I saw you recently said that your older sister Britney Spears helped you with the original theme song, way back when. What was that like having her help you through that?
JLS: The original song, I was 12. So I wasn’t quite in touch with how to put a whole song together by myself. So being as my sister is one of the biggest pop stars in the world, she was like, “The theme song can’t suck. So let’s make it good.” I was really nervous about going into the studio. I didn’t want anybody in there. I was on a TV show, but I didn’t want anybody to listen to me sing or anything! So she got in there with me and she made sure that it was simple and easy and cute and sweet. The original song she and a few other people worked on, but she babysat me through it. 

That’s what siblings are for!
JLS: They are very sweet. I wouldn’t have done it. I wouldn’t have done it if she wouldn’t have been there to coach me through it. I was so nervous.

You had so many people involved in the video! What went into getting everyone into it?
JLS: Well, it was really hard because of COVID. We had one day that we could shoot this video. We couldn’t have the whole cast there — two of them were actually out of the country. One of them was working, but I’m still surprised that we got as many as we did, to be honest with you. 

When we were going into making the song, the whole point was is to bring it to a new generation while also staying true to the Zoey 101 OGs, and Chantel being very much a part of this new generation, but also being a Zoey 101 fan, she was able to help figure out who some of the people were that we could invite.

The people we invited were obviously some of the biggest TikTok stars. So the OGs and the new kids. But it was all on one day. I don’t know how we did it. We have some really great people who schedule things. That’s all I can say.

I imagine it was an exhausting day!
JLS: It was quite the day. A lot of masks, a lot of hand sanitizer, and kicking people off set left and right. I mean, no one was safe, not even my kids. We were like, “No one’s leaving here sick!”

So now we know the reboot of Zoey 101 is coming, which will have a new storyline. But if that wasn’t a factor, where do you think Zoey would be now?
JLS: I’ve been asked this question a lot and there are so many answers, but I think in the reboot, we don’t want to have the first episode be that Zoey is married to Chase, they have kids and everything’s perfect and happy because then who’s going to watch the second episode? You’ve got to have it be a little messy. There’s got to be a little bit of back and forth, not just with our characters, but with Logan and Quinn and everyone. 

But I ultimately think that Zoey is definitely in charge of something. She’s running something. She’s definitely a boss of some sort and her and Chase — I’ve used this example a lot — are like Ross and Rachel. I think that they’re just missing each other, but they’re meant to be together. Everyone knows it and they can see it, but from their perspective, they just can’t seem to make it work. So I think that in the end, Zoey and Chase are together, but we can’t meet them that way because it’s not a good show.

I feel like with the way the show originally ended, there are just so many ways it could go.
JLS: And that’s all making this reboot happen. We have explored some very strange ways when we’ve had to reel ourselves back in. So I promise you that you will get your answers, yes.
CJ: She’ll figure it out!

So Chantel, if you found yourself at Pacific Coast Academy, where do you think you would have fit in with this group?
CJ: Well, I always say that I was obviously the number one fan of Zoey, but then I was also a big fan of Quinn just because she was like the mad scientist. When I was a kid, I was always just getting myself into trouble, doing experiments. And my mom’s like, “What are you doing?” I would climb on the roof and be like, “I think if I use this umbrella, I can float down.” I’m like, “Whew, I’m a scientist!” So I feel like I would probably be friends with Quinn hanging out with Zoey, helping her solve problems. I kind of feel like that would be my dream running around on our little scooters.

Then I just want to throw it back to the days of Zoey 101, 12 or 13 years ago. What were you both into? What were you listening to? What were your dreams?
JLS: Well, 12 years ago, technically I would have been pregnant at that point, because my daughter’s 12, so let’s go like 13 years. When Zoey 101 wrapped, I was like, “Okay, what am I going to do next?” Was I going to go home and be normal? Or was I going to go into movies? There were two roads for me to take. Obviously, my fate would soon be decided for me, but I was really into Lil Wayne at the time. There was like a lot of Lil Wayne and I remember I had these ridiculous speakers in the back of my car. They were in a glass box and lit up. It was so bad. And I would pull up to school listening to Lil Wayne.

Who did I think I was? And I was really into two-tone hair color. Oh and tanning beds! And now I won’t even touch a tanning bed, but I literally loved tanning beds, until I realized they’re the worst thing in the world for you. So that was a big thing going for me at that time but shh don’t tell.
CJ: Well, it was the same thing with the car, with the music, I had installed subwoofers.
JLS: Burning CDs was a huge thing.
CJ: I used to make mixtapes for all my friends! I learned on YouTube how to install my system in my car, but I was very much into Lil Wayne and that was when I started to go down the EDM path. I was just finishing up high school and just doing all that. I was really focused on it at the time. I was actually supposed to go to LSU — I got a scholarship there, but I didn’t end up going. My parents were like, you’re too young to be going all the way over there by yourself.

So you guys were basically living parallel lives and you didn’t even know it.
JLS: We didn’t know what our paths were, you know, what the universe was, we just kept kind of — like Zoey and Chase — missing each other.

Had you guys worked together before this project?
JLS: This was our first thing to ever work together on. We have some friends that we both know, and I was a fan of hers. When this came along, being that she’s female in a very male-dominated industry, I thought who better to bring this song to this generation, but a bad-ass female. Chantel obviously was the perfect fit for it and it was the right timing and finally, it worked. 

Is there anything else either of you want to share?
JLS: Watch the video! And look forward to the new Zoey 101 to air — this is just a taste!