With all of the media attention surrounding Britney Spears’ heavily publicized conservatorship, people have started to take notice of that of another notorious Hollywood favorite – Amanda Bynes.
Amanda Bynes, who rose to popularity as a pre-teen on The Amanda Show and as an adult on the WB’s What I Like About You, has been under her parents’ conservatorship since 2013, after her last acting role concluded three years previously. Many are quick to point out the similarities between the two stars, and as it turns out, there’s a lot we haven’t previously known about Amanda’s erratic behavior – including a weird connection to Spears’ own conservatorship.
Amanda Bynes’ Rising Star Fell Quickly
Back in the day, Bynes was unequivocally the star on Nickelodeon, starring in her own titular show created by Dan Schneider. You can read about Nickelodeon's murky history of child sex abuse here. Later, she headlined roles in 2000s classics like Big Fat Liar, She’s the Man, and What a Girl Wants. She had a role in Easy A alongside Emma Stone, but acting-wise, that was the last her fans ever saw of her.
Until 2013, when her manager, Jonathan Jaxson, called the NYPD following a phone call with 27-year-old Bynes. Jaxson later told a media outlet that during their call, it was clear Bynes was high, but she was also threatening to end her life. Believing this to be a possibility, the publicist called the police, and Bynes’ public downward spiral officially began. It was soon followed by starting a fire in the driveway of a Thousand Oaks, California home, tweeting sexually suggestive propositions directed at Drake, posting lewd photos online, and publicly accusing her father of assaulting her, which she later recanted.
After setting the fire, she was placed on an extended psychiatric hold. It was then that Bynes was placed under a conservatorship overseen by her parents, with her mother Lynn Bynes serving as the main conservator under California Code 5150, which is only used when an individual is determined by medical professionals to be “gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder.” Just a year later, after a stay at a rehabilitation center to receive treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, Bynes enrolled in classes at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM).
Amanda Bynes’ Link to Britney Spears’ Own Conservatorship
Bynes has been under financial control and legal conservatorship of her parents since 2013. Since then, she’s gotten engaged and continued her studies at FIDM. In a previous statement, her attorney, David Esquibias, called the conservatorship more of an “open day to day” operation rather than a long-term solution, saying that it would be terminated “when convenient for Amanda.”
Though it might seem misguided to do so, many of us can’t help but compare Bynes’ conservatorship to another famous star. Britney Spears recently had her father Jamie removed as conservator, and got engaged to longtime boyfriend Sam Asghari. She’s also been the focus of several documentaries investigating the conservatorship, one of which revealed a strange connection to Bynes.
The New York Times’ Framing Britney Spears uncovered Spears’ relationship with a man named Sam Lufti. Lufti was described by one journalist as someone who is recognized for “attaching himself to celebrities, often at vulnerable moments for them.” The two supposedly met one another in a nightclub after Spears got out of rehab, following her heavily publicized head-shaving incident.
Sam Lufti attached himself to celebrities, often in their vulnerable moments.
Lufti bills himself as a producer on his IMDB page, but at one time, Spears’ family claims he was also calling himself her manager. The same year that Jamie was named conservator over his daughter’s finances and essentially her life, the family filed a restraining order against Lufti, which was later granted. Britney’s mother Lynne alleges that as her “manager,” he moved into her home, cut her phone lines, controlled her medication, and intentionally manipulated her. Lufti maintains his innocence, though Britney has since said that he often pretended to be her when communicating with her team.
Sam Lufti, as it turns out, was involved in Bynes’ most vulnerable moments as well. In a Radar Online piece which has since been deleted, it was revealed that Lufti was close with Bynes during her breakdown, and the two were often seen together, though he denies any claims of involvement. At one point, the article reveals that he purchased a plane ticket for her from New York to LA, also communicating with her via phone during her psychiatric hold. The piece then alleges that Lufti dropped Bynes off at a hospital, when she thought he was taking her to a hotel.
Spears’ mother pointed to Sam Lufti as the “catalyst for her downfall,” calling him a “parasite.” Given his shady involvement in Britney’s mental health spiral, it’s not hard to piece together his strange involvement in Bynes’ public breakdown as well.
All that aside, even as the #FreeBritney movement celebrates its most recent victories, the #FreeAmandaBynes movement is underway. On September 23, it was announced that Bynes’ conservatorship would continue for an additional two years. It should also be noted that, contrasted with Britney’s situation, Bynes has had control of her finances since 2017 but continues to be under the medical supervision of her conservator.
Unlike Britney, Amanda Bynes has had control of her finances since 2017.
While the two inherently differ, #FreeBritney’s most ardent supporters argue that for all intents and purposes, the advantages, the ability to abuse and control the individual, as well as the room for error, are essentially the same in both cases. They’re also working to bring more attention and awareness to all the things that can go wrong when a public individual is subject to a conservatorship. #FreeBritney participants are already declaring that once the pop star has received justice, they’ll turn their attention to working to end Bynes’ conservatorship.
It’s fortunate that Amanda Bynes was able to get the help she desperately needed. Having been in the spotlight from such a young age and being the young star of a successful career also probably took a toll on her mental health and self-esteem but fortunately, she hasn’t given up yet.
Admittedly, there are a lot of moving parts to both stories – parents, attorneys, judges, and the public, all having their say. But the link between these two shouldn’t be ignored. Sam Lufti was just as shady in his friendship with Amanda Bynes as he was with Britney Spears, and if rumors and media gossip are to be believed, he likely made their situations worse and harmed their mental health more than he helped either of them.
The opposition of both conservatorships are working to bring awareness to how these legal restrictions can abuse the people they’re supposedly meant to help, but additionally, we shouldn’t forget the abuse perpetrated by the people closest to them.
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