Sad Details About Hallmark Star Bethany Joy Lenz's Personal Life

Despite her on-screen success, TV star Bethany Joy Lenz's off-camera life has been anything but smooth sailing.

Back in 2003, pop culture was forever changed when The WB released their hit series "One Tree Hill." Running for nine seasons, the series jump-started the careers of its central cast members, including Lenz, who played the loveable Haley James Scott. When speaking on the show's impact, Lenz told the "Hallmark" podcast, "We all really respected the fact that we were being welcomed into someone's home." She added: "I don't think there are a lot of avenues in this world career-wise, where you get welcomed into someone's home, and you have the ability to affect them with storytelling." Following the end of her "One Tree Hill" chapter, Lenz achieved more popularity when she became a staple actor on the Hallmark Channel, starring in films like "An Unexpected Christmas" and "Just My Type," among others. "Hallmark's a great family to be a part of. They really welcome you in and make sure you're taken care of," she told Woman's Day in 2020.

While Lenz has experienced an array of professional highs, she has also endured a handful of personal lows, which include her escape from a cult, a shocking divorce, and more. We've taken a deeper look at some of the heartbreaking experiences the talented actor has gone through and how she's overcome them. 

Bethany Joy Lenz was in a cult while starring on One Tree Hill

In July 2023, Bethany Joy Lenz revealed to her "Drama Queens" podcast co-hosts, Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton Morgan, that she was once part of a cult. "I don't know how much I can say because there are still people and legal things in place that make it more complicated for the timing of that," she said. While the Hallmark star was mum on the details at the time, she went on to share a few specifics about her traumatic experience a month later while speaking with Variety.

When asked why she decided to share her story, Lenz explained to the news outlet that it felt as if she was hiding a big part of her "One Tree Hill" journey. "As we're just talking about all the behind-the-scenes, we keep talking about all the times everybody was hanging out. I keep saying, 'Wish I had been there,'" she explained. "Eventually, it started to feel like, why don't you just be honest, Joy?" While Lenz describes her admission as powerful, she told the publication that she was once fearful of sharing her experience due to it possibly affecting her reputation as an actor. "The irony is, I squandered so many opportunities because I prioritized this group. I was at the height of my career, getting offers for huge movies and Broadway shows," she added.

Bethany's One Tree Hill castmates supported her after leaving cult

Detaching herself from a cult proved to be a challenging journey for Bethany Joy Lenz. However, she didn't have to look too far for support, with her "One Tree Hill" co-stars, like Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton Morgan, offering her comfort and encouragement. While appearing on the "Biscuits & Jam" podcast, the "A Biltmore Christmas" star revealed that she felt her castmates knew she was smart but was just stuck in a bad situation. Lenz added that while everyone had different ways of showing their support, they were with her every step of the way. "I feel like a lot of the people there, whether consciously or subconsciously, knew that just their presence and being an encouragement and letting me know that they still loved and cared about me... that made a big difference," she explained.

Fortunately for fans, more information about Lenz's cult journey will be explored in her first memoir, "Dinner for Vampires," which will be released in October 2024. In a heartfelt Instagram post, the "Pearson" star described her upcoming book as a story of forgiveness and a roadmap to how manipulation works. "This isn't the first book I thought I'd write publicly, but as difficult as this subject matter is to untangle, I'm grateful to share my story my way," she wrote. "We all make mistakes, and I hope 'Dinner for Vampires' reminds you that, no matter what weird roads you've gone down, you're not alone."

Bethany's marriage with Michael Galeotti ended in divorce

Bethany Joy Lenz's ordeal with a cult is just one of the emotionally daunting hurdles she's faced in her life. In November 2005, the "One Tree Hill" alum made waves with fans when she announced to the fan website Joie Luck Club that she was tying the knot with musician Michael Galeotti. "I'm getting married by the end of this year (I know, I know, nobody even knew I was engaged because I'm so private about my personal life)," she said, according to ONTD. Towards the end of her statement, Lenz added that she announced her impending nuptials to get everyone used to her new last name. After walking down the aisle, the two lovebirds lived in marital bliss, welcoming their daughter Maria in February 2011.

However, a year after starting their family, Lenz shared the shocking news that she and Michael were getting a divorce. "I'm sorry to say that Michael and I have decided to divorce," she said on her blog (via The Hollywood Reporter). Like their wedding, the "Just My Type" star said that she wanted to reveal the news so people wouldn't question her last name change. "We remain friendly and dedicated to raising our beautiful girl in love," she added. Since that fateful day, Lenz's love life has been shrouded in mystery, with her last public relationship with fellow actor Josh Kelly making headlines in 2018.

Bethany's character on Grey's Anatomy hit a little too close to home

In 2018, the "One Tree Hill" star surprised fans when she landed a guest arc on the popular medical drama, "Grey's Anatomy." When discussing the news with ET she described her role as a great character with a meaningful storyline. "I think it's something that will really resonate with a lot of people [because] it's an issue that a lot of people don't talk about openly," she explained. While the Hallmark star refrained from sharing further details, it was later revealed that she would play Jenny, the fiancé to Jo Wilson's (Camilla Luddington) abusive ex-husband, Dr. Paul Stadler (Matthew Morrison).

After her "Grey's Anatomy" appearance, the beloved talent opened up about why she took on the role of Jenny, revealing that she was once in an abusive relationship herself. "I got a call from Krista Vernoff, who is the showrunner at Grey's Anatomy ... she knew about my personal history," she explained on "The Steve Harvey Show" in 2018. "I wasn't physically abused, but it was very emotionally, psychologically, mentally, and spiritually abusive in a lot of ways." Lenz went on to praise the writers of "Grey's Anatomy" for how they crafted her character's tragic story and their ability to highlight different types of abusive relationships. "Jenny is a scientist, she's a smart, successful woman, she's self-confident, and you can be all those things and still be stuck in a situation, and you don't know you're being abused," she explained.