Who Is Amanda Bynes?
Born on April 3, 1986 in Thousand Oaks, California, Amanda Bynes is an actress who starred in the children's sketch comedy series All That and then The Amanda Show. She went on to the big screen in films like What a Girl Wants, Hairspray and Easy A, while also appearing on the TV series What I Like About You. The former child and teen star encountered difficulties after reaching her mid-20s, enduring mental health issues and several brushes with the law.
Early TV Career
Born on April 3, 1986 in Thousand Oaks, California, Amanda Bynes got her acting start at 7 years old in a Nestlé’s candy commercial, going on to star in the Nickelodeon show All That. Conveying a high degree of comedic skill and timing at a young age, Bynes then became the star of her own skit-based series The Amanda Show, which ran for three seasons and garnered the actress three Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards.
At the age of 15, Bynes jumped onto the big screen in 2002, starring in the film Big Fat Liar with fellow teen actor Frankie Muniz. That fall, she became co-star of the WB Network series What I Like About You, in which she played a fun-loving younger sibling to actress Jennie Garth, formerly of Beverly Hills 90210. The following year she had the lead role in the movie What a Girl Wants, in which she depicted a New York City teen who travels to London to find her wealthy father, played by Colin Firth.
With both Big Fat Liar and What a Girl Wants earning significant money at the box office, and What I Like About You running for multiple seasons, Bynes continued to garner notice for her prodigious slapstick chops. The stage was being set for more significant roles.
Growing Body of Film Work
Bynes then did voiceover work for 2005's Robots, and in 2006 starred in She's the Man—where her character disguises herself as her own brother, with Channing Tatum co-starring—and the tropical romantic comedy Lovewrecked. Then, in 2007, she landed a major supporting role in the musical film adaptation of Hairspray playing Penny Lou Pingleton, a girl who has a budding romance with an African-American boy in 1960s Baltimore. The movie was a hit, earning more than $100 million at the box office and receiving multiple award nominations. Later that year Bynes had the lead role in the college film Sydney White and also released her own clothing line.
In 2010, at age 23, Bynes embraced a sexier adult image as she posed for the cover of Maxim magazine. She also went against previous type with her role as a gossiping student in Easy A, a comedic retooling of The Scarlet Letter that also featured Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson.
Challenges With the Law
The young star would soon face difficult times. Her acting output stopped as she alluded via her Twitter feed to the need for a break, having been in the business since she was a child. Later, in the spring of 2012, she allegedly hit the rear corner of a police officer's vehicle. She was arrested and received a driving under the influence charge. Her father publicly came to her defense, stating that the DUI allegations were false.
According to police reports, Bynes was later involved in two additional hit-and-run car incidents. She was later spotted driving after her license had been suspended, and her car was impounded. Bynes was once again in trouble with the law in May 2013. She was taken into custody after she reportedly was seen smoking marijuana in the lobby of her New York City apartment building and later allegedly threw a bong out of her apartment window. Bynes was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment, marijuana possession and tampering with evidence, according to the Los Angeles Times. She underwent a psychiatric evaluation at a local hospital before being taken to the police station.
The troubled performer once again found herself under psychiatric observation that July. She had reportedly started a fire near the driveway of a home in Thousand Oaks, California. Local authorities investigated the incident and decided to bring Bynes in custody. She was placed on a psychiatric hold, known as a "5150," which allows the actress to be detained for 72 hours in a mental health facility. A judge agreed to extend her stay and give her parents temporary guardianship of her. Bynes then spent time in a rehabilitation center.
After receiving treatment, Bynes appeared to be trying to turn her life around. She lived with her parents and enrolled at Los Angeles' Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising to pursue a career as a designer. In April 2014, Bynes got her driver's license back. But she was once again in trouble with the law that fall. In September, Bynes was arrested for driving under the influence. She was charged with a misdemeanor and released after posting a bail amount of $15,000.
Bynes's troubles seemed to escalate after that incident. She took Twitter to accuse her father of abuse and then claimed a microchip in her brain made her make these allegations, according to a report in People magazine. On October 10, Bynes was placed on psychiatric hold at a hospital in Pasadena, California.
Road to Recovery
Over the following years, Bynes all but abandoned acting as she sought to repair her personal relationships and pursue other artistic interests at a fashion and design school. She regained control of her finances in the summer of 2017 and sat down for her first interview in four years that fall, in which she hinted at a possible return to acting.
In August 2018, People reported that Bynes was in a happy and healthy place in her life. While still under the conservatorship of her parents, she had rebuilt her relationship with them and was living on her own again. "Finally she is surrounded by friends and companions she can trust and really open up to," her lawyer told People. "She feels free to be herself, which brings her so much happiness and excitement for the future."
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