“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond,” Timberlake, 40, wrote in a lengthy statement shared via Instagram on Friday, February 12. “I am deeply sorry for the times in my life where my actions contributed to the problem, where I spoke out of turn, or did not speak up for what was right. I understand that I fell short in these moments and in many others and benefited from a system that condones misogyny and racism.”
The Grammy winner then mentioned Spears, 39, and Jackson, 54, by name. “I specifically want to apologize to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed,” he continued. “I also feel compelled to respond, in part, because everyone involved deserves better and most importantly, because this is a larger conversation that I wholeheartedly want to be part of and grow from.”
Timberlake went on to detail how the inner workings of Hollywood allowed his treatment of the songstresses to occur. “The industry is flawed. It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It’s designed this way,” he noted. “As a man in a privileged position I have to be vocal about this. Because of my ignorance, I didn’t recognize it for all that it was while it was happening in my own life but I do not want to ever benefit from others being pulled down again.”
The actor concluded by vowing to change his behavior: “I have not been perfect in navigating all of this throughout my career. I know this apology is a first step and doesn’t absolve the past. I want to take accountability for my own missteps in all of this as well as be part of a world that uplifts and supports. I care deeply about the wellbeing of the people I love and have loved. I can do better and I will do better.”
Timberlake received backlash from social media users earlier this month after the release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears, which suggested he added to speculation that Spears cheated on him during their relationship. The pair split in 2002 after dating for four years.
While some called out the former boy bander for how he handled the situation, a source exclusively told Us Weekly amid the backlash that Spears “would never want her fans to release the hounds on Justin.”
“Britney does not hold a grudge against Justin over anything he’s said or done,” the insider added. “She feels that they were young and in love and both did stupid things when they were together. She was heartbroken when they separated, but it’s not something she dwells on now. She’s happy and happy for him.”
Meanwhile, Timberlake revealed during a January 2018 interview with Apple Music’s Beats 1 that he “absolutely” made peace with Jackson after the wardrobe malfunction. “And I don’t know that a lot of people know that,” he said. “I don’t think it’s my job to do that because you value the relationships that you do have with people.”