From the depths of a mental meltdown that landed her in a psychiatric hospital in 2013, Amanda Bynes seems to be pulling herself together at last. Remarkably, the star whose downward spiral made headlines for more than a year is now quietly attending college, working toward a degree in fashion. But she’s not doing it alone: According to a schoolmate speaking exclusively to Star, Amanda has a new life coach, Joy Stevens, who stays by her side 24/7.
“Amanda is with Joy all the time,” says a student who attends the Fashion Institute of Design & Marketing (FIDM) in Los Angeles with Amanda. “She accompanies Amanda to class and basically everywhere. I’ve never seen them apart.”
Amanda, 30, originally enrolled at FIDM in 2014, but students claimed she seemed “clearly high” on marijuana back then. It was also alleged that she attempted to pay people to do her homework. Now, Amanda has apparently begun to apply herself.
“She’s always quiet and does her work,” says the student, who takes a social media marketing class with the actress. “She isn’t disruptive and doesn’t fuss.” Amanda’s appearance is also quite low-key.
“She just wears jeans, a sweater, sneakers — very casual clothes. She looks ordinary.”
And it seems Amanda has her new guru to thank for her academic attitude and calm demeanor. “Joy is older than Amanda, so she’s really providing a steadying, mature influence,” the classmate adds.
Having Joy in her life has obviously meant a lot to Amanda, considering her history of mental instability. The former TV star, who started acting at age 7 and rose to fame while headlining the series All That and What I Like About You, was arrested in L.A. for DUI in April 2012, and the following year, she began behaving erratically in public and ranting on social media.
She was next arrested on a marijuana-related offense in May 2013 in NYC and later wildly claimed to have been sexually harassed by the arresting officers. Back in L.A. that July, after allegedly starting a fire in a neighbor’s driveway, Amanda was put under involuntary psychiatric hold, which a Los Angeles judge extended for 30 days. Following her hospitalization at UCLA’s psychiatric center, Amanda did a rehab stint in L.A. at the Canyon. She was also put on medication for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Now, despite her rocky start at school, Amanda finally seems to be buckling down. “There’s nothing weird about her anymore,” her schoolmate says. “Her hair is always brushed and her skin looks good. She just seems normal.” The student reports that while Amanda does socialize with a group of girls at FIDM, she also spends a lot of time with her sketchbook. “I have seen some of Amanda’s drawings and they’re really good!” the classmate adds.
Amanda seems to have given up driving, however, and life coach Joy appears to be in charge of her comings and goings from the campus in downtown Los Angeles. “I don’t know if Joy lives with Amanda or not, but she’s always around as far as I can tell,” the student says. “And it looks like she is doing Amanda a world of good.”