The Untold Truth Of Hilarie Burton

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The following references sexual misconduct.

Hilarie Burton has definitely come a long way from her MTV days, where she began her career in the entertainment industry at the turn of the millennium. While Burton got her start as a VJ hosting their era-defining show "TRL," you could say it was her transition into acting with a starring role on the teen drama "One Tree Hill" that really launched her into stardom. Although Burton may still be best known from the WB series, she's continued to find steady acting work since leaving "OTH" in 2009, by appearing in other TV shows like "White Collar" and movies like "Dear Christmas."

These days, Burton has added author, producer, businesswoman, and podcast host to her resume, proving that she knows how to stay relevant despite putting her roots down far away from Hollywood. It probably helps that she gives her fans glimpses into her life on Instagram, where she boasts 1.6 million followers. Because she's been open about her personal life there, sharing things about her husband, actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and their two children for example, she not only seems to be relatable to fans but even occasionally ends up making headlines for her posts too.

When it comes to how Burton juggles it all, she told Harper's Bazaar, "I've always believed that if you're willing to put in the work, you can have the best of both worlds, but one thing is for sure: It's going to be messy." So let's dive into Burton's two "messy" worlds by breaking down her untold truth. 

Hilarie Burton had a wholesome childhood

It's safe to say that before Hilarie Burton became the star she is today, she had a pretty wholesome childhood growing up in Sterling, Virginia. When it came to her family life, she dished to M&F, "I had a former Green Beret for a dad, a mom who's really rough-and-tumble, and three very macho brothers. ... Every weekend was about building sh*t, hiking, and having adventures." As a youngster, she had a wide range of interests, telling Reagan National, "When I was a kid, I loved gardening, knitting, and making bread. You know, 'grandma' things." 

As Burton got older, she seemingly thrived in high school, considering that The Washington Post reported she was not only student body president, but also head cheerleader and homecoming queen. While it sounds like she had a lot in common with popular high schooler Peyton Sawyer, her character on "One Tree Hill," Burton suggested she was far more innocent. According to StarNews, she once said at a fan Q&A, "I had a problem with the promiscuity [on the show]. As a big-time virgin in high school, it bothered me that there was not just, like, one good girl."

Burton did appear to like that the show was filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina though, since it was a special place for her growing up. She shared at the aforementioned Q&A, "We had vacationed here when I was a kid and after I was here for number of years, my parents moved down here, so I still get to come here."

Hilarie Burton became a VJ after winning a contest

It appears Hilarie Burton was destined for stardom, considering the stars had seemingly aligned when it came to her big break. A then-18-year-old Burton had just moved to New York City to attend Fordham University when she decided to go to MTV's Times Square studio for their show "TRL." Once there, she entered into a hosting competition and actually won. She shared a video of that moment on Instagram, writing, "I'd arrived in the city two weeks before this video for college orientation and had cried my eyes out... because I didn't know how I was gonna make it." She added that she was reluctant to even audition in the first place, but was grateful she was persuaded to take the leap.

After she represented "TRL" on the red carpet of that year's VMAs, Burton had apparently impressed MTV executives enough that they offered her a job as a full-time VJ. "Next thing I know, I'm working here, dropping out of college," she recalled to MTV News. It was something even Burton didn't see coming, telling Self, "I was going to go work for the government. I was doing criminology and psychology and journalism courses."

Yet Burton said she's thankful that her "fairy godfather," former "TRL" host Carson Daly, gave her a new career and is proud of what they did on the show. "We were out to make sure kids had a good time on television with their friends and their signs," she said.

Why Hilarie Burton left One Tree Hill

While "TRL" made Hilarie Burton a public figure, the hit TV series "One Tree Hill" really catapulted her acting career. The teen drama debuted in 2003 when Burton was only 20, and while she remained on it for six seasons, viewers were upset when she decided to leave the series in 2009. At the time, fans blamed salary negotiations, as well as her co-star Chad Michael Murray since he left "One Tree Hill" at the same time.

Burton later revealed in her book, "The Rural Diaries," that it was actually because she felt lost and unhappy. Then, the death of a close friend made her realize she wanted a life outside of the show. She recalled, "It was time to make a change ... I'd always wanted to travel and write, so I started to work on a novel, bought a one-way ticket to Paris."

Burton admitted she needed a push though, which she got from her co-star Moira Kelly. She later told Kelly on her podcast "Drama Queens," "You said to me, 'There's so many chapters in life and this is just one,' and you were the only person that gave me permission to go." It apparently was the right decision too, since Burton has no regrets. She dished on the "Whine Down" podcast, "I knew that I needed to start something new. ... I had a big chip on my shoulder and I needed to just put it down."

Hilarie Burton is close with her One Tree Hill co-stars

If you follow Hilarie Burton on social media then you know she's remained close with her "One Tree Hill" co-stars, especially Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz. The three of them played friends on the show, which apparently mirrored their relationship off-camera. When asked about her and Bush's bond specifically, Burton told Refinery29, "[T]here was an understanding between the two of us, like, we're in this to win it."

Even with the show ending over a decade ago, the actors have seemingly become closer than ever. Bush explained to Us Weekly, "I think something that we really cherish ... as we've all gotten older, having our friendships deepen even more." In 2021, they even started the "One Tree Hill" rewatch podcast, "Drama Queens" together. Burton later gushed on Instagram, "I had ... no idea that I could feel more affection for @sophiabush and @joylenz. My sisters. ... We are growing together and healing together and learning together. And laughing a whole helluva lot along the way!"

It appears Burton is also still friendly with Chad Michael Murray considering that she defended him on Twitter in 2021, when a fan blamed him for her departure from the show. She wrote, "We were both treated badly, and he defended me. ... Chad was my teammate." That same year she also gave him a touching birthday tribute on Instagram, writing, "It is really nice knowing that there are people who share that history with you."

She was set up with Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Fans of Hilarie Burton probably already know she and husband Jeffrey Dean Morgan are head over heels in love, considering that the two frequently gush about each other on Instagram. In May 2022 for example, Burton captioned a photo of her man, "This is a post for my husband. For no particular reason other than to say he's great." 

Burton met Morgan back in 2009, the same year she left "One Tree Hill." The two were set up on a blind date by her co-star Daneel Ackles and Jensen Ackles. Burton recalled in a post, "The smokin hot @jeffreydeanmorgan showed up and it was game over." She was smitten instantly. As she recalled to People, "I liked that he knew exactly who he was. His confidence was intoxicating." From there, their relationship moved rather quickly since Burton became pregnant and they moved in together after only a few months of dating. "The ease in which Jeffrey and I were able to live together was a surprise," Burton dished, adding, "I was always the girl who was very cautious. ... But it worked out!"

The couple eventually tied the knot in 2019, despite false rumors that they had done so years earlier. But as far as Burton is concerned, they were already married. "From the moment I met @jeffreydeanmorgan, he was my husband," she wrote on Instagram. "Rather than make vows right out of the gate, we lived them. For over ten years."

Hilarie Burton's motherhood journey

"One Tree Hill" fans may still see Hilarie Burton as teenage Peyton Sawyer, but the actor has grown up and become a mom. Burton welcomed her son, Augustus, in 2010 and later her daughter, George, in 2018. Burton revealed on Instagram that she struggled to conceive George and had suffered multiple miscarriages. "And every morning of the five years it took us ... I'd grow bitter over the endless parade of celebrities showing off their bumps and babies," she wrote. Burton shared her journey though, explaining, "My wish is that she would restore hope for others."

Burton often posts photos of her children, making it clear how much she loves being their mom. In a 2022 birthday tribute to Augustus for example, she gushed, "I adore the person you are." In another post with George, she wrote, "My daughter is so much more than I will ever be." Burton even shares their family adventures, like when they went to a Broadway show. "Sharing that joy with a kid?? My absolute happy place," she posted.

However, motherhood does come with its challenges. For Burton, she told Refinery29 that's deciding what kind of parent she wants to be on any given day, as well as convincing her kids that she yells out of love. She explained, "As I struggle with all the multitudes of me ... I hope they will remember that every version of Mommy loved them at a high decibel."

Hilarie Burton was sexually harassed at work

Throughout her career, Hilarie Burton has experienced sexual harassment. One incident happened on MTV's "TRL" when actor Ben Affleck groped her breast during an interview. In 2017, a Twitter user brought up that moment when commenting on Affleck's condemnation of producer Harvey Weinstein. Burton then confirmed she hadn't forgotten the incident, tweeting, "I had to laugh back then so I wouldn't cry." Affleck later responded to Burton, tweeting, "I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize."

That wasn't the only time Burton had to deal with sexual misconduct. In a 2017 interview with Variety, Burton accused "One Tree Hill" showrunner Mark Schwahn of forcing himself on her more than once, and inappropriately touching her several times too. However, because Burton was seemingly afraid of losing work, she initially didn't fight back. She recalled, "I'm just in this position where I'm thinking, 'You've got to take it, Hil. Just laugh it off.'" Multiple cast and crew members made similar accusations against Schwahn. At the time of the interview, Schwahn's team did not provide comment. 

That experience did end up impacting her career though, because she then stopped auditioning for shows. She explained, "The fear of being forced into another one of these situations was crippling. I never wanted to be the lead female on any show ever, ever, ever again." It even affects how she now parents her daughter too, telling People, "She will never be a pleaser."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Hilarie Burton doesn't just act

Hilarie Burton is probably best known for her acting, but "The List" star actually wears many hats in the entertainment business. One of those was hosting "It Couldn't Happen Here," a true crime docuseries that digs into how crimes impact communities. She even produced the series, explaining to Self, "Making sure that we were telling stories in a way that I felt was responsible and empathetic and open-minded to all the sides was a lot of work."

That wasn't the first time Burton worked behind the scenes. She has four producing credits on her IMDb, which begin in 2009. That was also the year she launched her own independent production company, Southern Gothic Productions. At the time, she told EW, "We're producing a web series ... We've also got a television show that we're turning into a graphic novel, and we've got a film we're raising money for."

In 2020, Burton added author to her resume with the release of her book, "The Rural Diaries." "I've been writing my whole life, but it took this love story I have with my home to fulfill my ... goals," she wrote on Instagram. If that's not enough, Burton hosts the "One Tree Hill" rewatch podcast, "Drama Queens," alongside her former co-stars Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz. Yet, that apparently doesn't feel like work since she told Self, "We make each other laugh. We have a good time," adding, "Mom shuts herself off in her office, and we just giggle for a couple hours."

The Rural Diaries author lives on a farm

Actor Hilarie Burton actually lives far away from Hollywood, in New York's Hudson Valley. She and her husband, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, settled down in the area early on in their relationship and now live on a sprawling ranch that they call Mischief Farm. While the two bought the property in 2018, it was something they had apparently always wanted. Burton explained on their website, "On our very first date, we asked one another "What do you want for the future?' We both answered 'to live and raise a family on a farm.'"

And that's exactly what they're doing with their two children and barn animals that include cattle, donkey, dogs, alpaca, ducks, chicken and emu. When it comes to their farm chores, Burton told Self, "Jeff's the animal person here at the farm." She continued, "For me, gardening, whether it's just deadheading flowers, or taking the kids out to the garden to collect all the stuff that's grown." Burton said she even uses her own homegrown blackberries in the gin they created for MF Libations.

While both Burton and Morgan often share glimpses of their life on the farm with their Instagram followers, it seems Burton enjoys living her life out of the spotlight. She dished to Self, "Before moving, I didn't like the way young women were kind of forced to perform at all times going to the grocery store... taking your kid to school, whatever." She added, "This community has been so wonderful and protective."

Hilarie Burton's a business owner

Hilarie Burton has kept busy outside of Hollywood, running two businesses with her husband, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. One of those is their spirits company, MF Libations, which stands for their home, Mischief Farm. The couple launched the brand in 2022, releasing a Bonfire Rye and Blackberry Gin. Burton explained in an Instagram video, "Putting a product out into the world from the two of us is a natural fit," with Morgan adding, "It's something we're both real passionate about."

Burton and Morgan told Forbes that it was important that they had control over their own company instead of just being the face of a brand. They also wanted to do something that was connected to the Hudson Valley area of New York, where they live. "It's very important to us that we continue to use as many Hudson Valley makers as possible, so when this does go out to the world, it gives people a taste of what our home is," Burton said.

The couple also owns Samuel's Sweet Shop, which is a candy and coffee shop in their town. They had bought the shop with fellow actor Paul Rudd after its original owner died in 2014. Morgan revealed on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" how that came about, saying, "We just didn't want it to turn into a smoothie stand or something. It had been there since the early '90s, so we were like, 'Yeah, let's pool our money together and get a candy store.'"

Hilarie Burton's net worth

Hilarie Burton clearly has a successful Hollywood career so it's not shocking that she has an impressive net worth. According to Celebrity Net Worth, she alone is worth $5 million, not including her husband, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's money. It can be presumed that most of Burton's funds are from her previously mentioned acting, producing, and hosting gigs, as well as from her book sales, and libations company. 

When it comes to how Burton and Morgan spend their cash, it's apparently on real estate, considering that they not only own a large farm in Hudson Valley, New York but also an apartment in Manhattan. According to Architectural Digest, the couple dropped $2.85 million for that apartment in 2019, a year after purchasing their farm. They apparently like to give back as well, through charities like Project Patriot, which finances extracurricular activities for kids in Burton's hometown of Park View, Virginia. She said to Northern Virginia Magazine, "I raised my hand very quickly with many other alumni to jump in and help."

It's safe to say that Burton is much more than just a former "TRL" VJ or the girl from "One Tree Hill," since she's accomplished a lot since those shows ended and is using the platform fame gave her to help others.