The Real-Life Partners Of The Cast Of Sweet Magnolias

Based on author Sherryl Woods' book series "Sweet Magnolias," this Netflix TV show has taken viewers on an emotional roller coaster as three lifelong friends — Maddie (JoAnna Garcia Swisher), Dana Sue (Brooke Elliot), and Helen (Heather Headley) — try to navigate their lives in small-town Serenity, South Carolina. Cozy and comforting, the show is jam-packed with drama and is the perfect treat to watch with girlfriends while sipping a glass of wine, or should we say margaritas? 

The series became an instant hit when it first aired on the streaming platform in 2020, with creator Sheryl Anderson telling Country Living, "'Sweet Magnolias' is built on a foundation of friendship, faith, and community. ... In the writer's room and in production, we said, 'We want everyone to see themselves in Serenity.' I think that spirit of inclusivity has resonated with viewers, too." It certainly has, as the show is bound for a third season, as of this writing. 

While Maddie, Dana Sue, and Helen help lift each other onscreen, viewers have also watched the women navigate romances, and it doesn't hurt that the men on the show are good eye-candy. And in real life, the actors portraying these women, as well as the rest of the cast, have actual partners that seem just as lovely. Check out the real-life partners of the cast of "Sweet Magnolias" below. 

Heather Headley

Best friends with Maddie and Dana Sue, Helen Decatur — played by actor Heather Headley — is a passionate lawyer who is the strongest of the bunch. While viewers watched her relationship with her on-and-off boyfriend, Ryan (Michael Shenefelt), deteriorate, she strikes up a new romance with Dana Sue's sous chef, Erik (Dion Johnstone), who is not only smitten with Helen but understands the struggles she faces — one in which includes starting a family.

In real life, this Tony- and Grammy Award-winning star is married to former New York Jets wide-receiver-turned-investment-advisor Brian Musso. According to Ebony, the couple share three children together — two sons, plus a daughter they welcomed in 2019. Sharing a sweet Instagram photo of their daughter's foot, Headley captioned it in part with, "The Commander and the Lieutenant now have a President ... and it's a girl."

Headley got her career start on Broadway, with her most memorable roles as Nala in "The Lion King" and the title role of "Aida." She's also an accomplished singer, having performed with legend Andrea Bocelli and releasing a handful of solo albums, including 2012's "Only One in the World." With such an impressive resume, Headley admitted to Playbill in 2015 that it wouldn't be possible without the help of Musso. "As a wife, I am married to maybe the greatest guy on Earth because he has just been amazingly supportive. Even in these [situations], he'll be like, 'Go! You have to go! Go! Please!'" she shared, before quipping, "Either that or he just wants me out of the house for some reason."

Justin Bruening

Fans may recognize actor Justin Bruening as Matthew Taylor on "Grey's Anatomy," but this star is melting hearts in "Sweet Magnolias" as Maddie's love interest — who also happens to be her oldest son Ty's baseball coach, Cal Maddox.

Bruening got his acting start in soap operas, which makes him a great fit for the Netflix series. He starred as Jamie Martin in "One Life to Live" and reprised his role in "All My Children," which is where he met his real-life wife, Alexa Havins, who played Babe Chandler, per Soap Central. Bruening even proposed to Havins while on set, with his character popping the question to her character. Havins shared to Soap Opera Digest, "But what could be more fitting? We spend so much time there, and it's like our second family. When he asked me, it was so nice; he put the ring on my finger and I was giggling, screaming, and I turned and our cast and crew was coming out of the woodwork because they had the live feed coming [through the studio] — the producers and hair and makeup came down and they had a cake and champagne and it was a really, really nice moment."

According to Soap Central, these two are parents to three children, but the family of five keeps a rather low profile, as neither star is on social media. Havins shared, "Maybe there's something of me that is kind of vintage, I guess. ... And the second factor is probably just that I'm focused on my family."

Chris Klein

Providing viewers with much of the drama in Serenity, actor Chris Klein stars as Maddie's ex-husband and father of their three children, Bill Townsend. The pair split after Townsend has an affair with a woman named Noreen (Jamie Lynn Spears), who is pregnant with their child — and fans who watched all two seasons so far know that his storyline gets way more complicated. 

Klein's romantic life in real life is anything but what he portrays in "Sweet Magnolias." The actor has been married to his wife, travel agent Laina Rose Thyfault, since 2015. (He was previously engaged to actor Katie Holmes). For their wedding, the couple chose a beautiful outdoor setting in Montana. Klein shared with People, "We fell in love with the area and the nature," adding that the most special part of their wedding was their vows: "Promising forever was definitely the highlight. Nothing gets better than that." 

These two share two children together — a boy named Frederick Easton, whom they welcomed in 2016, and a girl named Isla Rose, who was born in 2018. Speaking about becoming a father for the first time to ET, Klein said, "There's a lot of business that goes on. The baby has got to sleep; baby has got to eat; diapers have to get changed. Then there are these beautiful moments in between. And during those, where the whole world just stops and there I am with my son, it's just remarkable and I'm told it only gets more incredible as you go." 

Jamie Lynn Spears

Jamie Lynn Spears hasn't had another major role since starring as Zoey Brooks in Nickelodeon's "Zoey 101" in the mid-2000s. But the singer-actor is back in action as Noreen Fitzgibbons in "Sweet Magnolias," the other woman in Bill Townsend's affair. Off screen, however, the younger sister of pop icon Britney Spears is happily married to businessman James Watson.

The couple met through friends, but it wasn't quite love at first sight. As Watson shared on TLC's "Jamie Lynn Spears: When the Lights Go Out" in 2016 (via Us Weekly), "I think we grew on each other, which is probably why we are still together." Jamie Lynn added, "He was kind of awkward and weird. He was always uncomfortable ... looking back though, I think it's kind of sweet because he was acting that way obviously because he liked me." Despite having some reservations, these two gave their relationship a try and later married in 2014. 

Watson was also welcoming of Jamie Lynn's young daughter, Maddie, from her relationship with ex Casey Aldridge. The star made headlines when she left "Zoey 101" after she found out she was pregnant at 16. "I knew I wanted to marry her when basically I had fallen in love with Maddie just as much as her," Watson explained (via Us Weekly). The couple welcomed a daughter of their own named Ivey Joan in 2018, per People

JoAnna Garcia Swisher

JoAnna Garcia Swisher is Maddie Townsend in this hit Netflix series — the protagonist and mother of three who leaves her husband after his affair and must start her life over with the help of the Sweet Magnolias (aka her gal pals, Dana Sue and Helen). While Maddie strikes up a romance with her son's baseball coach, Cal Maddox, in real life, the actor is married to a former baseball player. 

If you don't recognize her last name, JoAnna is married to former New York Yankees player Nick Swisher. The couple got engaged in May 2010 and wed in December of the same year, per People. At the time, Nick told the outlet, "I think for the first time in my life, I have a woman who I could not be more proud of. We do such a great job really pushing the other one to do better and I think that's what you have to do."

The duo are parents to two daughters named Emerson and Sailor, with the former athlete telling Us Weekly in November 2021 that the pressure was on to have a boy who could grow up and just be like dad: "I keep trying to tell her, like, 'What do you think, something different is going to come out of here?' I'm like, 'Dude, three girls?' That would be it for sure. I can't handle that. No doubt. All my buddies are like, 'Bro, you need a little mini you.' And I'm like, 'Do we?'"

Brandon Quinn

Brandon Quinn has been in numerous television shows, including "Entourage," "Rebel," and "The Fosters," with '90s babies perhaps remembering him best as Tommy Dawkins on "Big Wolf on Campus." These days, the actor stars as Ronnie Sullivan on "Sweet Magnolias," the ex-husband of Dana Sue and father to their daughter, Annie. 

Quinn might be playing a husband separated from his wife, but in real life, the actor has been married to his wife, Rachel Swierenga, for over 20 years. Little is known about her, with SB Nation's Mile High Report stating that she is Canadian, and that the private couple share three children together. While her Instagram account is private, her bio includes a heart emoji and reads, "Always down to climb a mountain, eat good food, sit in the sun & be with the people I love most." According to Distractify, who noted that the couple's real-life meet-cute happened on an unnamed set in Montreal, the bio previously included her job title: "Personal Trainer and Meal Planner."

However, Quinn isn't shy when professing his adoration for the brunette beauty on social media. In May 2021, he shared an Instagram post celebrating her birthday, writing in part in the caption, "22 years and my love for you grows stronger and deeper with every passing day." He touchingly added, "I love you with all my heart and soul and am grateful I get to grow old with you and spend eternity with you."

Dion Johnstone

Starring as Helen Decatur's love interest, Erik Whitley, on this Netflix series, actor Dion Johnstone's real-life romance with fellow actor Lisa Berry is just as sweet. Both Johnstone and Berry hail from Canada and reside in Mount Pleasant near the city of Toronto, where the "Sweet Magnolias" actor also spends his time working in theater, per the Toronto Guardian. While the two are not working, they are raising their son, Khylin, with Johnstone sharing the news of his birth with his followers on Instagram in 2020.

Berry told the Streets of Toronto that they met while rehearsing for "To Kill a Mockingbird," even though she admitted to knowing of him before but was hesitant on dating. She shared, "A year later when I walked into that rehearsal hall and looked up to see this tall, sexy Black man standing across the room, I thought to myself, 'Now I deserve you.' Only to find out it was Dion. Full circle."

The married pair has a lot in common, including a passion for the theater and comic books. Berry also said of their similar interests, "We love to cuddle on the couch and binge-watch our favorite shows. We love traveling together and share a love for fitness and martial arts."