It was announced in January that Bynes, 36 — who has led a relatively private life in recent years — was scheduled to be a special guest at this year’s convention. According to the event’s official website, the She’s the Man actress would join fellow All That alums Kel Mitchell, Danny Tamberelli and Lori Beth Denberg on a reunion panel inside the Connecticut Convention Center. However, news broke on Friday, March 17, that Bynes would no longer be able to attend.
When the All That stars took the stage on Saturday, March 18, they briefly discussed Bynes’ absence. Mitchell, 44, asked the packed crowd of attendees to “send a prayer” to the actress to “feel better,” but did not disclose further details about her health.
Fellow All That alum Kenan Thompson appeared on Saturday in her place, where he also offered an update about his and Mitchell’s upcoming Good Burger sequel. “We’ve been waiting. We want to get it done and out,” the Saturday Night Live star, 44, joked during the panel.
Thompson, 44, Mitchell and Bynes all skyrocketed to fame as featured players on Nickelodeon’s All That, which aired between 1994 and 2005. After several seasons on the sketch series, the California native landed her own spin-off, The Amanda Show — which ran between 1999 and 2001 — where Bynes led various skits during each episode. (Mitchell and Thompson also starred in their own sketch spinoff series, Kenan & Kel.)
Fresh off her The Amanda Show success, the Big Fat Liar actress landed roles in the likes of What a Girl Wants, She’s the Man, Hairspray, Sydney White and What I Like About You. After a brief acting hiatus in 2010, Bynes returned to the big screen in that year’s Easy A opposite Emma Stone and Penn Badgley before taking another step back from the spotlight.
“I just had no purpose in life. I’d been working my whole life and [now] I was doing nothing,” the Love Wrecked actress recalled to Paper magazine in 2018. “I had a lot of time on my hands and I would ‘wake and bake’ and literally be stoned all day long. … I got really into my drug usage and it became a really dark, sad world for me.”
By August 2013, the former child star was placed under a temporary conservatorship after a series of mental health and substance abuse struggles. Her mother, Lynn Bynes, was named the conservator over Amanda’s health care and personal matters. Amanda later filed to end the conservatorship in February 2022, which was terminated one month later.
“[Amanda’s] doing great both physically and mentally. It’s beyond gratifying to know her parents and of course [Paul] Michael are by her side,” an insider exclusively told Us Weekly that March, referring to the Hall Pass star’s fiancé. “Her folks are very happy for her. They adore Amanda and always prayed and believed there would be an end to those dark and unhappy days when she was struggling. Seeing her display so much courage and heart makes them proud.”
If you or anyone you know is facing substance abuse issues, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free and confidential information 24/7.
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With reporting by Stephanie Webber