Born Amanda Laura Bynes, April 3, 1986, in Thousand Oaks, CA; daughter of Rick (a dentist) and Lynn (an office manager) Bynes.
Addresses: Agent —c/o Endeavor, 9701 Wilshire Blvd., tenth floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Office —c/o Tollin/Robbins Productions, 10960 Ventura Blvd., second floor, Studio City, CA 91604. Website —http://www.amandabynes.com.
Actress in television, including: All That, Nickelodeon, 1996-2000; Figure It Out, Nickelodeon, 1997-2000; The Amanda Bynes Show (pilot), Nickelodeon, 1999; The Amanda Show, Nickelodeon, 1999-2002; Rugrats (voice), Nickelodeon, 2001; What I Like About You, The WB, 2002—. Film appearances include: Big Fat Liar, 2002; What a Girl Wants, 2003.
Awards: Kids' Choice Award for favorite TV actress, Nickelodeon, 2003; Kids' Choice Award for favorite movie actress, Nickelodeon, 2003; two additional Kids' Choice Awards for favorite TV actress, Nickelodeon.
After beginning her career as a young comedic actress on the hit Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That, Amanda Bynes soon moved on to her own program, The Amanda Show, also on Nickelodeon, before venturing into prime time network
Born Amanda Laura Bynes on April 3, 1986, in Thousand Oaks, California, Bynes is the daughter of Rick and Lynn Bynes. Her father worked as a dentist while her mother was an office manager who worked at her husband's practice. Bynes has an older brother and sister, Thomas and Jillian. From an early age, Bynes was interested in comedy and acting, pursuits her father encouraged. Bynes would relate her day at school to him as a young child and her father was amused by the way she told her stories.
To that end, Bynes began acting in plays and attending summer comedy camps. When she was seven years old, Bynes played the youngest orphan in Annie. Also at seven, she began taking summer comedy classes at the Comedy Store in Hollywood, California, and auditioning for television commercials. She was not pushed, but did it because she wanted to be an entertainer. By the time she was nine years old, Bynes was taking classes at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood, where she learned how to perform stand-up comedy. She loved being on stage there, and often did not want to get off when her time was up. Bynes told Richard Corliss in Time, "I was always kind of goofy. And I had all this energy. Getting to put on wigs and props and doing characters was perfect for me."
When Bynes was ten years old, she was discovered by producers at the graduation showcase for her summer class at the Laugh Factory. The producers, Brian Robbins and Dan Schneider, had been young actors themselves on the hit 1980s situation comedy Head of the Class. Robbins and Schneider became producers of programming for Nickelodeon and other networks. They were impressed by Bynes' talent, and interviewed her for their show All That, which had been airing since 1995.
Bynes nailed the interview for the youth sketch-comedy show. She told Pamela Mitchell of the Plain Dealer, "For the interview, I did my comedy act about what it's like to get the same teacher as your wonderful brother. They thought it was funny. I was so excited when they told me I was going to be on the show."
In 1996, Bynes joined the cast of All That, spending the next four years on the show. She soon developed several of her own regular characters, many of whom played off her broad comedy skills and her perky personality. They included her impressions of Barbara Walters as well as Lucille Ball as the character Lucy Ricardo. (Of Ball, Bynes told Jefferson Graham of USA Today, "She's my idol. She made everybody laugh, and made it possible for women to star in their own shows.") Bynes also created the segment "Ask Ashley," playing a somewhat exasperated girl named Ashley who gave sarcastic advice to dim letter writers. For her work on All That, Bynes was nominated for a CableACE Award in 1997.
The producers of All That saw Bynes as a breakout talent and in 1999, gave the actress her own program. Robbins told USA Today 's Graham in 1999, "Amanda is going to be a really big star. She's so young, but tremendously talented beyond her years." In March of 1999, Robbins shot a pilot starring Bynes that was similar to The Patty Duke Show in the 1960s called The Amanda Bynes Show. Bynes played two characters: a young actress who had been on a situation comedy who goes to live with her cousin after her show was canceled and the actress's cousin, who leads a normal life in Kansas.
When The Amanda Bynes Show was not picked up, Robins and Schneider made a second effort at a vehicle for her which was bought by Nickelodeon. In 1999, they created The Amanda Show, which ran for three seasons, through 2002. Her variety show, which featured sketch comedy and animation, first aired as an episode of All That. Bynes appeared on both shows for one season, leaving All That in 2000. On The Amanda Show, she played Amanda as well as other characters. Among her regular characters was Penelope Taynt, who was an odd fan obsessed with Amanda, and Miss Elegance, who acted quite the opposite of her name. She also did an impression of Judge Judy, named Judge Trudy, whose rulings always favored kids. The show received good ratings over its run.
While Bynes was an in-demand actress, she still enjoyed a life outside of show business. She liked to play basketball, shop for shoes, and read mystery novels. When she worked on her shows, she attended a private school for one week a month, and worked with an on-set tutor for the rest of the month. She also had experiences that most people her age never did. In the summer of 1999, she was part of the "All That Music & More Festival Tour" with pop and R&B groups as well as sketches from All That. The tour covered the United States.
By the end of the run of The Amanda Show, Bynes was ready to leave Nickelodeon behind and move into feature films and network television. She told David Hochman of the New York Times, "I knew I didn't want to be a Nickelodeon kid when I was 30. I was having fun but at 15, you don't want to be doing what you did when you were 12." The fall after her Nickelodeon show ended, Bynes moved to a prime time network television program that gave her a chance to appeal to a wider audience.
Bynes was cast for a role on What I Like About You on The WB, which was produced by Schneider and Wil Calhoun, who had been a writer/producer with the hit NBC sitcom Friends. Bynes played teenager Holly Tyler who was sent to live with her adult, rather uptight sister, played by Jennie Garth, in New York City when their father had to move to Japan for work. Bynes and Garth had good chemistry, and Bynes was allowed to use her physical comedy skills, including slapstick. While the show had good ratings in the beginning, they went down in its second season. That season, What I Like About You moved away from the sisters' relationship to focusing on Bynes' teen friendships and related dramas.
As Bynes' star continued to rise, her parents tried to keep her life as conventional as possible. She still attended a regular school for at least part of a year, and had no problems with drugs or alcohol. She avoided Hollywood parties. Bynes told Nancy Mills of the Daily News, "So many people comment that I'm much more mature than average. But I'm also still a normal kid. I go to regular school. I live only 40 minutes away from Hollywood. I have great friends. I like to draw, see movies, hang out, talk on the phone, and read." In another interview, with Michael Sheldon of the Daily Telegraph, "Innocent is who I am. I don't need to watch my image."
Bynes retained her self-assured, clean image as she moved into feature films. She deliberately waited to do films until she was older so that she would be seen as a more adult actress. In 2002, Bynes made her feature film debut in Big Fat Liar, written by All That and What I Like About You producer Schneider. She played a supporting role to Malcolm in the Middle situation comedy teen star Frankie Muniz. Muniz played Jason, who had problems telling the truth, while Bynes was cast as his best friend, Kaylee, a more moral character who had a knack for impersonation. The film is set in Michigan where Muniz's character discovers his term paper has been stolen by an unscrupulous producer and made into a hit film. Jason exacts his revenge on the producer with the help of Bynes' Kaylee. Though Big Fat Liar was not highly regarded by critics, Bynes' work in the film was praised.
For her next film, Bynes spent the summer in London, England, filming What a Girl Wants (originally called American Girl ). This marked the first time Bynes went abroad, much like the character she played in the film, though her grandmother accompanied her. Somewhat based on the 1950s film The Reluctant Debutante, What a Girl Wants focused on Bynes' character's journey of self-discovery. She played Daphne Reynolds, an American teenager who discovers her father is a British aristocrat, Lord Henry Dashwood (played by Colin Firth). Daphne was raised by her American hippie singer mother, Libby (played by Kelly Preston), in New York City. Daphne's parents were never married, and her father did not even know she existed.
As What a Girl Wants progresses, Daphne meets her father and his stuffy family. She deals with her father's campaign for a seat in the House of Commons, his engagement to a difficult woman with a difficult daughter of her own, and his male adviser who wants to keep Daphne from her father. The themes of being who you are and being true to yourself were underlined in the film. While What a Girl Wants tried to appeal to both adults and teenagers, critics believed it was only for a teen audience and were generally unkind.
As Bynes moved into adulthood, she wanted to continue to work as an actress, but she was also interested in fashion design. Bynes also had plans to attend college, perhaps away from her family. Future film roles were already lined up, including a film called Lovewrecked. This was a romantic comedy set at a resort where Bynes' character was to work for the summer.
Bynes attributed all her success to her family. She told Rob Salem of the Toronto Star, "I owe everything to my family. My mom's artistic and my dad's funny, so I guess that's where I get it from. They've all been so supportive. My friends, too. I guess that's what keeps me grounded. I have a totally normal life. I love to perform, but [at home and at school] I really try not to be too obnoxious."
Celebrity Biographies, Baseline II, Inc., 2004.
Boston Globe, February 8, 2002, p. C9; April 4, 2003, p. C8.
Boston Herald, April 6, 2003, p. 59; December 13, 2003, p. 23.
Denver Post, April 4, 2003, p. F8.
Daily News (New York, NY), February 4, 2002, p. 35.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), August 5, 2003, p. 13.
Gazette, March 28, 2003, p. D14.
Girls' Life, October 2002, p. 54.
Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia), April 3, 2003, p. H8.
Houston Chronicle, July 15, 1999, p. YO4.
New York Times, October 20, 2002, section 2, p. 27.
People, February 25, 2002, p. 101.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 7, 2003, p. E1.
Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), January 2, 1997, p. 9E.
Time, April 14, 2003, pp. 76-79.
Toronto Star, February 18, 2002, p. C2.
Toronto Sun, March 11, 2002, p. 41; April 5, 2003, p. 34; June 24, 2004, p. 81.
USA Today, March 5, 1999, p. 10E.
Variety, March 31, 2003, p. 29.