She's The Man was Amanda Bynes' biggest film. It was also the catalyst for her private turmoil.

In the mid-noughties, Amanda Bynes was a rising child star praised for her charisma and comedic talent.

The actress starred in the cult teen classic She's The Man in 2006, and the film was her breakout role in Hollywood. 

But She's The Man was also the catalyst for a private turmoil for Bynes – a struggle with mental health that would eventually lead to frequent arrests, drug use and erratic behaviour in the years to come. 

Watch: She's The Man trailer. Post continues below.

Video via Paramount Pictures.

Mamamia's two-part podcast series, Extraordinary Stories: What Happened to Amanda Bynes?, takes a look at the star's rise to fame and how her private life unravelled in front of the world's prying eyes.

Amanda Bynes' rise to fame.

Throughout the early to mid-2000s, Nickelodeon was the television channel in Australian households, with kids begging their parents to get Foxtel so they could watch TV programs like The Amanda Show. 

From a young age, Bynes had loved performing and was in local stage productions in California. Her big break came while she was 10 at a kids’ comedy camp in LA when she was spotted by a Nickelodeon producer.

Image: Getty. 


Only a few years later, network producers would frame an entire series around Bynes.

The Amanda Show was almost like a kid's version of Saturday Night Live, with Bynes and her fellow cast members and guest stars performing mini comedic skits and wholesome content. The show was described by Mamamia's entertainment editor, Laura Brodnik, as "the backbone of the Nickelodeon network."

By 2002, Bynes had decided to move on from the show and seek a career in film. Hits included What A Girl Wants with Colin Firth, Big Fat Liar and a sitcom called What I Like About You.


Listen to Extraordinary Stories: What Happened To Amanda Bynes? Post continues after audio.

By 2005, Bynes was landing roles with multiple Hollywood heavyweights: but none could quite eclipse the success of She's The Man.

Amanda Bynes and She's The Man.

The film is set in an American high school, with Bynes starring as Viola Hastings alongside actor Channing Tatum. In order to play soccer at a competitive level, Viola has to disguise herself as a boy to prove girls are just as good at the sport as their male counterparts.

As the writers recalled during a guest seminar on The University of California Television a few years ago, they were impressed with what Bynes brought to the lines on the page.  

But Bynes' most successful role also triggered a host of internal struggles.

It was the act of switching between the male and female characters that didn't sit well with Bynes, affecting her body image. 

Image: IMDb. 


She spoke about the experience in a 2018 interview with Paper Magazine, saying: "When the movie came out and I saw it, I went into a deep depression for four to six months because I didn't like how I looked when I was a boy." 

"I've never told anyone that. It was a super strange and out-of-body experience. It just really put me into a funk."

In a press junket for the film at the time, Bynes alluded to this struggle: "I was so so tired of doing the voice, I was uncomfortable. I wish I was a girl the whole time because then it [would have been] me."

Image: Getty. 


But amid the struggle, Bynes continued to present a positive front to the world.

Louisa Hatfield, the former editor of New Weekly and Woman's Day spoke to Extraordinary Stories about the growing desire for people to see celebrities just like them. But what came with the paparazzi intrusions was an insight into the private challenges women like Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Mischa Barton were facing. 

"Putting these women on pedestals, the trouble is it creates the necessary knockdown effects that will then come. I think what has been an awakening for us is that at the time, these celebrities were actually struggling with their mental health and the irony of the media being so unsympathetic," Hatfield said on the podcast.


In Bynes' interview with Paper, she said that the "angelic" facade couldn't compete with her drug use. 

From smoking marijuana recreationally in her late teens to trying party drugs like MDMA, Bynes' drug-taking ramped up after she finished filming She's The Man.

Image: Getty. 


"I read an article in a magazine that [called Adderall] 'the new skinny pill' and they were talking about how women were taking it to stay thin. I was like, 'Well, I have to get my hands on that'."

While filming, Bynes says she "remembers seeing my image on the screen and literally tripping out and thinking my arm looked so fat because it was in the foreground or whatever and I remember rushing off set and thinking, Oh my god, I look so bad."

Amanda Bynes' private struggles become public.

As the years went by, Bynes' drug use increased, and she says she started "hanging out with a seedier crowd. I isolated a lot... it became a really dark, sad world for me."

Bynes continued to star in movies after She's The Man, but the actress' body dysmorphia, Adderall addiction and erratic behaviour left her wanting to walk away from the spotlight. 

"She wanted to retire from making movies, to get out of the spotlight. And I think that comes down to the fact that she'd been in the spotlight and in the entertainment industry since she was a really little kid," Laura Brodnik said on Extraordinary Stories. 

In 2013, Bynes announced her retirement from acting via Twitter. 

Her use of the social media platform soon spiralled because, "every time she tweeted, it would just cause a media storm," says Brodnik.


Image: Getty. 

In 2012, Bynes was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Later that year she was also charged in relation to two hit-and-run incidents. 

In December that year, Bynes showed off some new cheek piercings on her Tumblr account. It was at this stage, her Tweets became more concerning, including one that said she wanted rapper Drake to "murder her vagina."


In 2013, Bynes' trouble escalated further. 

She tweeted to Rihanna that her ex-boyfriend Chris Brown beat Rihanna 'because she wasn't pretty enough'. 

On July 2013, the then 27-year-old was in a mental state of decline, and armed with a can of petrol, she lit up a driveway in California. The driveway soon became engulfed in flames.

One witness saw Bynes lying down on the footpath near the road. She had a long dishevelled blonde wig on and was holding a small ginger dog. The left leg of her tracksuit pants was black and burnt. Bynes' dog was covered in petrol and singed in the fire. Bynes was then seen walking down the street and into a bottle shop. 

That night she was put under a psychiatric hold.

For nine years, Bynes was placed under a court-ordered conservatorship and in March 2022, it was lifted. 

"Words can't even describe how I feel. Wonderful news," Bynes said in a statement at the time. "Following today's decision by the judge to terminate my conservatorship, I would like to thank my fans for their love and well wishes during this time. I would also like to thank my lawyer and my parents for their support over the last nine years."

"The media were causing a lot of this. And I think anyone who was in the media at that time, particularly in celebrity magazines, like myself, have regrets," former magazine editor Hatfield said to Extraordinary Stories.


"The more the paparazzi harassed these kids, the more they struggled with their mental health, and being in the spotlight they couldn't cope with it."

Listen to this episode of The Spill, Mamamia's daily entertainment podcast. Post continues after audio. 

Earlier this week, the actor was placed on a psychiatric hold again after she was found wandering the streets in California, Los Angeles, completely naked. 

According to reports, she had also waved a car down and told a driver she was "coming down from a psychotic episode" before she called 911.

Police noted that Bynes appeared to be "suffering from mental illness," and based on statements she made, the American actress was put on a psychiatric hold.

According to reports, the actor's parents do not plan to place her under a conservatorship again as Bynes realised she was unwell and sought out help for herself. 

Feature Image: Getty/IMDb/Mamamia.

This story was published on October 12, 2021 and was updated with new information on March 22, 2023.

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