British actress Amanda Pays first achieved prominence as a fashion model. By 1984, she had made the jump to acting. She stated, “Modeling just kills the brain cells. It was good experience and it allowed me to meet many people but it was pretty awful.”
Making her debut in HBO's “The Cold Room” (1984), Pays is probably best remembered for playing Theora Jones in the TV film “Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future” (1985, Channel 4) and for appearing in the short lived TV series “Max Headroom” (1987-1988, ABC). She also portrayed Tina McGee in the short lived CBS series “The Flash” (1990-1991), based on the DC comics superhero character of the same name, and the movie sequels “The Flash II: Revenge of the Trickster” (1991, TV) and “Flash III: Deadly Nightshade” (1992). She has also made guest appearances in TV series like “The X Files,” “7th Heaven,” “Nip/Tuck” and “Psych” and costarred in the films “Oxford Blues” (1984), “Off Limits” (1988), “A Grande Arte” (1991), “Solitaire for 2” (1995), “Subterfuge” (1996) and “Ablaze” (2001). Pays has acted with her husband, Corbin Bernsen, in several film projects, including “Dead on the Money” (1991, TV), “I Know My Son Is Alive” (1994, TV), “Spacejacked” (1997) and “The Santa Trap” (2002, TV).
“In my own mind I always felt I would wind up doing something in the entertainment business. I liked the attention I would get from people when I would be in a play or do a skit.” Amanda Pays
Pays has been married twice. She was married to assistant director Peter Kohn of “Pirates of the Caribbean” fame from 1984 to 1987. She and present husband Bernsen, whom she has been married to since 1988, have four sons.
Childhood and Family:
Amanda J. Pays was born on June 6, 1959, in London, England, to talent agent and actor Howard Pays (born on June 11, 1927, died on April 12, 2002) and former actress Jan Miller. She was named after her aunt, Mandy Miller, a child actress from the 1952 movie “Mandy.”
A product of a show business family, Amanda developed an interest in acting at a young age and demonstrated her skills in her girls' convent school productions where she often portrayed male roles. Following a successful career as a model, ambitious Amanda turned her attention to acting and began her training at The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in Wandsworth, South London.
In 1984, Amanda married producer/director Peter Kohn, the son of American writer/producer John Kohn (born in 1925, died in 2002). The marriage ended in divorce in 1987. She married Hollywood actor Corbin Bernsen (born on September 7, 1954) on November 19, 1988. At the time, Corbin had just separated from his wife, Brenda Copper. Amanda and her husband have four sons, Oliver Miller Bernsen (born on March 14, 1989), twins Henry Pays Bernsen and Angus Moore Bernsen (born on March 19, 1992), and Finley Cooper Bernsen (born on June 9, 1998).
Encouraged by her mother, Amanda Pays sent a picture to a modeling agent and for the next four years, modeled around the world. Although successful, Pays grew bored with the profession and decided to quit at age 22. She then made the transition to acting and after studying at London's Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, made her professional acting debut in the HBO TV film “The Cold Room” (1984), which was based on Jeffrey Caine's science fiction novel of the same name and was directed by James Dearden. Costarring with George Segal, Renee Soutendijk, Warren Clarke and Anthony Higgins, she was cast in the dual role of Carla Martin and Christa Bruckner. Later that same year, she broke into the big screen as Lady Victoria Wingate in Robert Boris’ “Oxford Blues,” alongside Rob Lowe and Ally Sheedy.
Following a part in the BBC television movie “Mr. and Mrs. Edgehill” (1985), which starred Judi Dench and Ian Holm, Pays gained notice for her portrayal of Theora Jones in the TV film “Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future” (1985), starring Matt Frewer as Edison Carter/Max Headroom. She later reprised her role in the American television series “Max Headroom.” The series, which was broadcasted on Cinemax and then ABC, lasted from March 1987 to May 1988. Despite the short life span, the show was considered ground breaking in the sci-fi genre and won Emmys for Outstanding Art Direction for a Series, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series and Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Series.
In the meantime, Pays also played Sarah in the ABC miniseries “A.D.” (1985), opposite Anthony Andrews, Ava Gardner, Ian McShane, and Susan Sarandon, among others, supported Peter Ustinov and Faye Dunaway in the CBS TV film “Agatha Christie's 'Thirteen at Dinner'” (1985) and guest starred in “Dempsey and Makepeace” and “Minder” (both 1985). She then had an unaccredited part in the independent film “The Frog Prince” (1986), starring Aileen Quinn and Helen Hunt, costarred with Rod Steiger, Talia Balsam, and Kim Hunter in the horror movie “The Kindred” (1987) and played Nicole in “Off Limits” (1988), a thriller directed and co-written by Christopher Crowe and starring Willem Dafoe, Gregory Hines, Fred Ward and Scott Glenn. After “Max Headroom,” she closed out the decade with an appearance in the episode “The Pretender” (1988) of “CBS Summer Playhouse” and a costarring role opposite Peter Weller and Richard Crenna in the thriller “Leviathan” (1989), which was directed by George P. Cosmatos.
Pays returned to series TV as a regular when she costarred as Dr. Tina McGee in the CBS science fiction series “The Flash,” opposite John Wesley Shipp as Barry Allen/The Flash. The show debuted on September 20, 1990, and ran for 22 episodes until May 18, 1991. She recreated her role for the 1991 TV film “The Flash II: Revenge of the Trickster” and the direct-to-video sequel “Flash III: Deadly Nightshade” (1992). Pays was also cast as Sarah Taylor in the TV film “Parker Kane” (1990, starred Jeff Fahey), acted with her husband, Corbin Bernsen, in “Dead on the Money” (1991), a TV film adaptation of the novella “The End of Tragedy” by Rachel Ingalls, and played Marie in the thriller “A Grande Arte” (1991), opposite Peter Coyote as Peter Mandrake and Tchéky Karyo as Hermes, the Knife Master.
In 1993, Pays guest starred as Phoebe Green in the episode “Fire” of “The X Files” and played Helena in the unsold TV series pilot “Age of Treason,” opposite Bryan Brown, Matthias Hues, Art Malik and Anthony Valentine. She then appeared in the TV films “I Know My Son Is Alive” (1994), in which she was reunited with her husband, and “Hollywood Confidential” (1997, starred Edward James Olmos). She also portrayed characters in “Solitaire for 2” (1995, starred Katie Burrough), the Marion Segal-written drama “Subterfuge” (1996, with Matt McColm) and “Spacejacked” (1997, again with husband Corbin Bernsen). She also appeared in episodes of “Thief Takers” (1997), “Vengeance Unlimited,” “7th Heaven” (as Emily Grant), “It's Like, You Know...,” “Martial Law” and “Any Day Now” (all 1999).
Entering the new millennium, Pays appeared as Paulina in a 2000 episode of “Grapevine” called “Matt.” She was then cast as Jennifer Lewis in the Jim Wynorski directed movie “Ablaze” (2001, with Tom Arnold and Ice-T), and Doris Spivak in the TV film “The Santa Trap” (2002, with husband Corbin Bernsen, Dick Van Patten and Shelley Long). Also in 2002, she served as the host of “Breathing Room.” Pays then disappeared from the screen for several years and did not resurface until 2006 in an episode of “Nip/Tuck” called “Cindy Plumb.” In 2008, she appeared in the episode “Black and Tan: A Crime of Fashion” of USA Network's series “Psych.”