Danica McKellar

The Hallmark Channel is known for its magical holiday movies, made even more magical with its stellar cast of actors and actresses, who come back each year to spread holiday cheer. While there are many reasons actors leave a network, we finally know why these Hallmark Channel stars left. From diversity issues (per USA Today) to the new holiday network in town, GAC Family (via The Wall Street Journal), many actors have left Hallmark for new opportunities.

Per The Wall Street Journal, nearly 100% of the lead actors that starred in GAC Family movies, which aired during the 2021 holiday season, had previously starred in Hallmark films. The person behind GAC Media is Bill Abbott, former president of Hallmark. He told the outlet that the network isn’t "actively going out and poaching from Hallmark," and that he has been approached by Hallmark actors more often than not.

Here are the former Hallmark actors who’ve left and why.

Hilarie Burton was penalized for speaking out about diversity

Following her six-year stint on "One Tree Hill," actress Hilarie Burton became one of the many faces of Hallmark, starring in several network movies since 2015, like "Surprised by Love" and "Summer Villa," according to her IMDb page. Burton left Hallmark in 2019 after a reported disagreement about casting.

Burton shared on Twitter in December of 2019 that she was "let go" back in January of that year. "I had insisted on a LGBTQ character, an interracial couple and diverse casting. I was polite, direct and professional," she wrote, adding, "But after the execs gave their notes on the script and NONE of my Requests were honored, I was told ‘take it or leave it.’" And she left it, along with her paycheck, even though she was looking forward to the project, she continued in the Twitter post.

After Hallmark, Burton appeared in "The Walking Dead" TV series in 2021 alongside her actor hubby, Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The year before, in 2020, Hallmark released "Wedding Every Weekend," which featured a same-sex marriage, and "The Christmas House," starring the first same-sex couple on Hallmark.