Unlike the show’s original cast, later casts clashed as new members joined. While some new cast members were welcomed with open arms, others, well, not so much.
Bates: Anybody who had to replace any of the originals was under pressure to be as funny or funnier. I didn’t realize how tough our fans were. I ended up finding out when Amanda Bynes came in and replaced me. I started noticing how much the fans liked me then when I learned that the that fans were giving Amanda a hard time.
I reached out to some of my fans saying, "It is what it is. At least give her a chance." People were often trying to play the race card, too, because I was the black girl who seemingly got replaced by the white girl.
Iglesias: I was really nervous, and you don’t want to mess it up when you see a good opportunity. I might’ve suggested some things here and there to the writers, but on shows like that, you’re seen as a kid and expected to go with the flow.
Some of the cast was cool, some not so cool. Some were fun, some were just pains in the butt. Nick Cannon was super cool. Danny Tamberelli was super cool. Josh Server was super cool. It really was strange being pulled aside by Amanda Bynes and told, “You don’t know how to be funny.” That was hysterical. I was, “Okay, I won’t be talking to you anymore.”
I’m not trying to throw Amanda completely under the bus. To her credit, she worked very hard on the show. Her parents were very involved with her career. She didn’t have enough time to be a regular kid. She was a perfectionist and any suggestions she would make, everybody listened.
Anybody who had to replace any of the originals was under pressure to be as funny or funnier. —Angelique Bates
Johnson: I thought Amanda Bynes was really annoying. She was to me what I was to everybody else: the baby, kind of wild and running around. When she came along, I could kind of see firsthand how everyone must’ve looked at me. [Laughs.]
Mitchell: Amanda's comedic timing was just great. She wasn't scared to be physical at such a young age. I remember her dad came up to me and was like, "Hey, Amanda likes your comedy. Could you give her a couple of pointers?" I would tell her crazy stuff to do and she would rock it.
Denberg: When Amanda first came on the show, I loved her and we got along really well. I tried to help her along a little bit. Her first week, she forgot a line when we were in front of the live audience and she got really upset. I reassured her that it was totally fine and I made some joke like, “Josh forgets his lines all the time!” Her parents really appreciated that too. She’s the person that I had the best rapport with.
Frierson: I think the original cast members felt some type of way when we came in on the third and fourth season. They anticipated being backdoored and they felt like there was no loyalty. They would talk about Florida and how it used to be. But we were like, “Bro, we are in Hollywood now.”
I would never downplay the rest of the cast; they paved the way. I have all the love and respect for Lori Beth now, but back then she was a kid hater, like the fun police.
Certain people wanted that special treatment and it tainted what it could've been. Kenan and Kel ended up leaving halfway through season six and things kind of went downhill. One complaint sparks another complaint, like, “Oh, he wants this? I want something, too.”
There were definitely people who weren't trying to work as hard anymore. It was hard work, though, having to get dressed. You would have some elaborate costumes and face makeup and fake titties. I remember Kenan and Josh didn’t want to do that shit anymore. I could respect that as they got a lot more grown. However, certain people like Kel and Nick Cannon would be hungry like, "I don’t care what I have to do!” I just felt like that broke up the show a little bit.
Knowings: Kenan, Kel, Lori Beth, and all the producers and writers made me feel really welcome. Danny Tamberelli, who I became good friends with because we were both from New York, had been on Nickelodeon already, so it helped me when we came on together. I was coming in with someone who everyone already knew.
Tamberelli: Despite being on a kids show, I don’t think we were pressured to be good kids. We all recognized our role. When I first got there, producers tried to give me a talk about how to act and my responsibility as a public figure. They wanted me to take a four-to-eight hour class on how to greet people. That’s the only time I was ever not feeling it. Basically, don’t be super stupid about stuff. This was also before people had camera phones, so they weren’t really speaking about much beyond not getting arrested. Plus, being a teenager with a decent fake ID didn’t get me in everywhere.
Saul: I looked up to everyone on that show because they were all significantly older than me, besides Leon and Amanda. I took to Danny because he’s a musical guy and he taught me how to play the guitar. Everyone gave me advice because they had been there for so long and wanted to see me have a good time.
I remember after I did Stuart for the first time, and the audience liked it, Josh took me aside and asked, “Do you like doing this character? Because you’re going to be doing it a lot.”
It was fun hanging out with Leon and Amanda because, since we were out of school, we had to create our own little playground. The show had dressing rooms that were turned into classrooms, so we spent a lot of time together. Honestly, I couldn’t see myself competing with anyone because I just always felt fortunate to be on the show.
Cannon: Everyone was super cool because we were young. It was like school. We couldn’t wait for tape day on Friday because that was when the musical acts would come and we'd get to see whoever we had a crush on at the time, whether it was Destiny’s Child or someone else. We were trying to holler at TLC. [Laughs.]
To me, Kenan was my big brother and I was just happy to be out of the hood. There was never no beef compared to my reality or where I was living at home.
I remember the older guys and I were always trying to toughen Leon up, though. We would go shoot hoops or go out play fighting in the area. He was always this little man with this little voice, so we were trying to make sure he was with some real dudes because obviously this Hollywood game can swallow you up. We would make sure to do this big brother stuff with him.