It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since fans first fell in love with Haley James Scott on One Tree Hill. The perpetual nice-girl-next-door, Scott easily charmed her way into audience’s hearts — as did the actress who brought the character to life, Bethany Joy Lenz (or "Joy," as she goes by). Lenz’s innate likability, coupled with how relatable her character was, made the Florida-born actress’ rise to super-stardom seem like a sure thing.
So when Lenz popped up on the long-running and immensely popular ABC series Grey’s Anatomy in 2018 as a minor character, it brought back all those warm and fuzzy fan feelings. And, accordingly, the cameo-turned-extended-arc has us all wondering: What has Lenz been up to since her OTH days?
Suffice it to say, the real reasons you don’t hear much about the talented star might just make you like her even more. Keep reading to learn about Lenz’s life and career since One Tree Hill wrapped.
Who doesn’t lay low after a bad break-up?
Break-ups are hard enough without the entire world watching and judging your every post-marriage move. So who can blame Bethany Joy Lenz for keeping a low profile when she and ex-husband Michael Galeotti decided to split in 2012 after six years of marriage?
Lenz penned a letter to fans on her now-defunct former blog, BethanyJoy.com (via The Hollywood Reporter), about the deeply personal decision. "As most of you know, as much as I love to share with you the magic of ordinary days, I am also very private about my personal life," she wrote. "In fact, the only reason I’m saying anything about this at all is because you’ll all be wondering soon why everyone is calling me ‘Bethany Joy Lenz’ again. I’m sorry to say that Michael and I have decided to divorce."
Lenz added that the pair remained on friendly terms, and that they were committed to co-parenting their daughter, Maria, "in love."
She’s raising a little human, y’all
While Bethany Joy Lenz has landed some stellar roles over the years, there’s one she relishes above all others: motherhood. In February 2011, Lenz let fans in on the big news that she’d welcomed her baby girl into the world. "Michael [Galeotti, her husband at the time] and I are pleased to announce the arrival of our beautiful girl, Maria," Lenz wrote on her former blog.
In the years after One Tree Hill ended, Lenz fully leaned into the joy (no pun intended) of being a mom. "Waking up, finding out there’s more to life, getting down to the bare-bones and finding out, ‘Actually I can survive without x, y, z,’" Lenz told Bustle. "Making lunch for my daughter and sending her off to school, it makes me really happy. It’s really been great."
Judging by the fun photos Lenz shares of Maria on social media, it’s safe to say this darling mother-daughter duo make the most of their time together.
Her pilot was too "highbrow" for E!
In 2014, news broke that not only would Bethany Joy Lenz be appearing in another series, but she would be headlining it! Loosely based on Diane Warren, the drama would see Lenz as a singer-songwriter named Lauren Byrd — hence the series title, Songbyrd. Despite having some big names bolstering the show like Grey’s Anatomy producer Krista Vernoff and actress Rumer Willis, the pilot unfortunately wasn’t picked up by E!.
Lenz took to Instagram to address the disappointing development with her fans, explaining that perhaps the series simply hadn’t found the right network. "Thank you all for the sweet tweets about #songbyrd!" she wrote. "I am sad, but honestly it’s a sophisticated sexy show and I understand why it was probably a bit highbrow for E! You guys would be amazed at how many REALLY GOOD pilots never see the light of day. I’m so proud of our show and the cast chemistry. We have a great team and I hope #Songbyrd finds a home somewhere with real class and balls."
She’s been channeling her inner flapper
What does a busy single mom-slash-actress do in her spare time? Apparently not sleep, if you’re Bethany Joy Lenz. Rather, the creative star picked up another artistic hobby along the way: writing. Right around when OTH wrapped, she co-authored a 1920s-era internet novel called Diamond Gothic with fellow actress Abigail Spencer and comedian JC Coccoli. The chapters were released on HelloGiggles at the time (they’re no longer available on the site).
Speaking with ClevverTV in 2012, Lenz explained the novel’s, well, novel concept. "Diamond Gothic is a 1920’s Vogue-esque thriller — Anne of Green Gables meets The Great Gatsby. It’s a rotating novel, so it’s three voices telling one story," she said, adding, "None of the authoresses know what’s gonna happen until the girl before us writes her part. So it’s completely improvisational; we’re just guess-ending the person before us. But it’s a murder mystery."
Being a secretly super-talented artist is time-consuming
Bethany Joy Lenz’s impressive artistic endeavors have been popping up sporadically on her social media feeds for years, but it wasn’t until January of 2018 that the multi-talented entertainer decided to devote serious time to creating it.
"So, I guess I’m gonna do this more lol," Lenz revealed on Instagram, along with a photo of her surrounded with some of her pieces. "Head over to @thelenzgallery. I’ll start posting eventually. Processes and paintings etc."
Lenz apparently has paint running through her veins, adding in her Instagram post, "My dad is an artist. I haven’t asked him yet but I bet he’ll join in on the account if I beg him to."
She sometimes sings for her proverbial supper
While Bethany Joy Lenz has many hidden talents, singing isn’t one of them. That is, it isn’t hidden — fans couldn’t get enough of her voice when her character Haley decided to pursue a singing career on One Tree Hill. And, in happy news, the multi-tasking actress still finds time for her music. "I’ve been a musician since I was a child as well. … Always singing, always writing songs, I’ve been lucky enough to record several albums, several EPs, and I had the extreme fortune of joining Gavin DeGraw, Michelle Branch and Tyler Hilton on a 21 city concert tour while I was on One Tree Hill," she told Bellus magazine of her music career.
Fans can find (and purchase) Lenz’s music — including her fourth solo album, Your Woman, and a 2015 holiday album — on iTunes. Want to listen before buying? Head over to the singer-songwriter’s Last.FM page.
"There’s a serious lack of interesting material for women," so she makes her own
In November 2017, Lenz checked off yet another milestone: directing a short film. Sharing the moment on Instagram, she encouraged fans to check out her directorial debut, Somebody’s Mom (part of the Nasty Habits web series). Lenz then spoke about the experience on Twitter, thanking Nasty Habits writer-director Christina de Leon for "hiring women like me to direct and helping to keep creativity an open forum."
It isn’t the first time, and surely not the last, that Lenz has made the salient correlation between female creatives and substantial material. "There’s a serious lack of interesting material for women late 20s/early 30s right now. So — I’m writing my own. I’m also looking for more material to produce to create more jobs for women in my industry and lend my voice," Lenz told Bellus magazine in 2015.
Human rights warrior-ing is in progress
If you can’t tell by now, Bethany Joy Lenz is a passionate person. Her excitement extends far beyond what happens in front of (or behind) the camera in Hollywood, though. A fierce advocate for human rights, the actress takes part in various charities and causes. In January 2018, she shared photos on Instagram of her experience taking part in the annual Women’s March.
When one commenter pushed back, calling the marches useless, Lenz took the time to reply and explain her stance on their true relevance. "This is important for women and girls who are NOT in powerful positions to know that they have a massive amount of support," she politely, yet pointedly explained. "It’s not a waste of time, it’s a moment of community to support and encourage each other."
Lenz is also actively involved in fundraising for the Love146 organization, which fights to end child sex slavery and exploitation. And she has created a jewelry collection called Buffalo Offering, with part of the proceeds aimed at supporting the Tanka Fund — an organization devoted to raising awareness about the need for buffalo restoration on American-Indian reservations.
Nicholas Sparks monopolizes her time
Oh, that Nicholas Sparks — making everyone cry all the tears and stealing away time with Bethany Joy Lenz whenever he wants. As it were, the pair are evidently pretty tight in real life. Not only does she occasionally sing at celebrity events for the author, but she even adapted his most iconic work into a musical!
During an interview on the One Tree Hill podcast in 2010, Lenz explained that she began making up songs for the characters of The Notebook after watching the movie adaptation of Sparks’ bestselling novel. When the lyrics still lingered after six weeks, she put pen to paper. "This is my first time venturing into this side of the theater world," Lenz said (via MTV). "It’s been an inspiring and intimidating and fun and exhausting and wonderful, wonderful journey that is not even close to over yet."
When asked in 2011 by CBS News about the status of the musical, Sparks replied that the project was still in development. But he did add, "Obviously, The Notebook is going to be some sort of musical and a lot of fun to be involved in that process, too." Unfortunately there hasn’t been a significant update on the production since, so we probably shouldn’t hold our breath.
She’s livin’ her best "modern vintage" blog life
Because Lenz clearly didn’t have enough to keep her busy (ha!), the One Tree Hill actress also started a dreamy lifestyle blog called Modern Vintage Life — though, her last post at the time of publishing was from January 2017, so she may have set this project on the back burner. She originally named the site Wish You Were Here after a ’50s Broadway show her grandfather was in. The blog features suggestions and insight on books, music, fashion, and travel. Also finding their way into the mix are inspirational posts — think "How to Beat the Holiday Blues" — and a healthy dose of DIYs.