Bynes’ old-pro conduct is no act



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Actress Amanda Bynes poses with a shot of her Hairspray character Penny Pingleton


When John Waters’ cult hit Hairspray was released in 1988, American actress and teen sensation Amanda Bynes was just 2-years-old.

What a difference 19 years makes.

Bynes, 21, is now regarded as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses under the age of 25, and this year earned a fifth place ranking on Forbes list of young Hollywood’s top earners with an estimated income of $2.5 million in 2006.

And like many of her young and famous colleagues, Bynes has managed to diversify her portfolio, shifting seamlessly from television to film while still maintaining her rabid teen fan base. She’ll soon delve into the world of fashion design with her new line of clothing targeted at women under 30-years-old at Steve and Barry’s stores across the United States.

Perhaps more importantly, Bynes makes her highest-profile film appearance to date with her turn as the slightly ditzy Penny Pingleton in the big-screen adaptation of the multi-Tony Award-winning musical Hairspray, which itself was adapted from the Waters original by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman in 2002.

In the midst of this success, and unlike young starlets such as Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, Bynes has managed to successfully insulate herself from tabloid scrutiny.

In fact, Bynes’ most notable magazine cover appearance came in 2003 when she graced the cover of Vanity Fair with the likes of Mandy Moore, the Olsen twins, Lohan and singer-actress Hilary Duff to celebrate Hollywood’s top young female stars.

But the actress — whose love of comedy derived from her father’s dalliance in the stand-up world — admits the industry was probably more impressed by the cover honours than even she was.

“To me a magazine is just a magazine,” she explained during an interview with Metro this week.

“I had been working for I think nine years before that magazine came out so that’s just people taking note of the work you’ve already been doing. It’s nice, it’s kind of gravy on already being able to work, but you can’t let that kind of stuff be what makes you think you’re doing something right.”

Some might consider this answer overly-professional, even staged, coming from a 21-year-old. She should be consumed by ego, right? Those who know Bynes would likely disagree.

The actress, who on this day is punctual and respectfully to-the-point in her responses, is known for approaching her career with an executive’s eye to management.

“I just want to learn as much as I can and become a seasoned veteran,” she answers when asked about her current career trajectory, before explaining her recipe for success: “I think it’s just a mixture of opportunity, professionalism and luck. I think it takes a lot of that.”

Not to mention a certain degree of talent, a screen-friendly appearance and, in her case, a keen sense of comic timing.

And, contrary to the way many of her colleagues act, a sense of right and wrong.

“I try to stay out of anything that would be considered a bad thing for a role model to do,” she explains. “Part of my career goal is to be a good role model for various people so I do try to stay out of (the tabloids).”

  • Hairspray opens in theatres next Friday.