By ROSIE WATERLAND
This is Amanda Bynes.
The photo on the left was taken in 2001, when Amanda was 13 and starring in Nickelodeon’s The Amanda Show.
The photo on the right was taken last week.
Dishevelled, dazed and having just spent the night in jail, Bynes was fronting court charged with drug possession. She was released on bail, went outside to a cab flagged down by her lawyer and left. Nobody came to meet her. Nobody came to help her get home. Her taxi sped off into the streets of New York City, with Bynes all by herself in the back.
Another child star, fallen from grace.
But how does it get to this point? Why do so many former famous kids end up alone, addicted, broke or in trouble?
Up until a couple of years ago, Bynes had a promising career. After getting her start in a couple of commercials, a Nickelodeon producer discovered her at a kids comedy class and launched her into stardom. Two years later, aged 11, she had her own top-rating sketch show. She was the cutesy-pie flavour of the moment.
Then her show got cancelled. She hit puberty – an awkward phase especially tough for a child star who’s loved for being sweet and innocent. Not quite old enough to be a sex-object, but too old to be keep playing the cute kid, Bynes had the lead in a couple of films that didn’t really take off.
As soon as she hit 21, she posed in her underwear on the cover of Maxim. Some small supporting roles followed, the last of which was in Easy A in 2010. She hasn’t worked since.
Last year, Bynes hit the headlines for being arrested numerous times for driving under the influence. A mugshot of her was widely circulated in the media. She was spotted behaving increasingly erratically. More media attention followed. Her publicist, lawyer and manager all quit the same week Amanda left her family and went to live in New York on her own.
She began tweeting half-naked pictures of herself. She shaved her head. She was often spotted wandering aimlessly around the city, smoking from a pipe. She invited strangers into her apartment, who then sold their stories to magazines. Apparently she lives in squalor – almost no furniture, rubbish and drugs everywhere and all the windows painted black. She started abusing other celebrites on Twitter for being ‘ugly’. Obsessed with appearance, this childish insult seems to be the worst thing she thinks she can call a person. When a model tweeted her concern for Bynes, she was hit with this bizarre (and incredibly immature for a 26-year-old) response from the star:
More media attention followed.
However, amidst all the sensationalised tabloid stories about her current downward spiral, one article on Cracked.com has been getting the most attention. It’s a piece written by former child star Mara Wilson – famous for her roles in Mrs Doubtfire, Miracle on 34th Street and Matilda. In the article, titled 7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy (An Insider’s Perspective), Wilson explores why she thinks so many child stars have found themselves in the same place as Bynes. Now a writer living and working in New York City, Wilson makes a lot of sense. And the similarities between Wilson’s speculations and Bynes’ experiences are quite striking.