Justin Timberlake has apologised to Britney Spears after a new documentary led to criticism of how he treated her during and after their relationship.
Framing Britney Spears featured archive clips of Timberlake discussing his sexual relationship with the singer.
In a statement on Instagram on Friday, Timberlake said he was “deeply sorry” and wanted to “take accountability”.
He also apologised to Janet Jackson, after he failed to support her over her controversial Super Bowl performance.
Timberlake and Spears dated in the early noughties while Timberlake was a member of boy band N*Sync, but the pair split up in 2002.
“I’ve seen the messages, tags, comments, and concerns and I want to respond. 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.
“I specifically want to apologise to Britney Spears and Janet Jackson both individually, because I care for and respect these women and I know I failed. 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.
“The industry is flawed. It sets men, especially white men, up for success. It’s designed this way. As a man in a privileged position I have to be vocal about this. Because of my ignorance, I didn’t recognise 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.
“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.”
After finding fame at the end of the 1990s, Spears said she was waiting until she was married to lose her virginity, but Timberlake publicly revealed that they had slept together.
He later indirectly accused her of cheating on him, hiring a lookalike actress to appear in the video for his single Cry Me A River.
Two years later, at the 2004 Super Bowl, Timberlake performed with Janet Jackson, accidentally exposing her breast. The “wardrobe malfunction”, as it became known, led to outcry and complaints from viewers.
Although both apologised, Jackson absorbed the bulk of the negative publicity. She was fined and blacklisted by US radio and MTV, and Timberlake’s failure to publicly support her was heavily criticised in later years.