Bethany Joy Lenz



Bethany Joy Lenz: The Light at the End of the Tunnel


In the heart of bustling Los Angeles, a city known for its relentless pace despite the traffic, there are days that stand out—days that are lit by a different kind of energy. The day I spent with Bethany Joy Lenz was one of those days, a day where the vibrant pulse of the city seemed to dance to her rhythm.

From the moment she walked into the room, it was clear that her presence transcended the typical celebrity aura. Joy, as she prefers to be called, exuded a warmth that felt like a long-overdue hug from an old friend. Her outfit, effortlessly chic—a pair of vintage jeans, boots, and a whimsical hair scarf—embodied the very essence of our photoshoot. We were here to capture her, not just as a talented actress and musician but as the remarkable woman who had gracefully navigated the often tumultuous waters of fame, challenges, and personal growth.

I couldn’t help but recall a conversation with my co-worker just days before while preparing for the interview and photoshoot. It was her reminder of how ‘One Tree Hill,’ the iconic series that Joy was a part of, had paved the way to countless other shows my generation had come to love – Gilmore Girls, Riverdale, and the Fosters to name a few. Joy’s journey through that experience, as she would reveal during our interview, was a profound one. The purpose of our photoshoot was to celebrate her new book, which delved into her past experiences within a cult during her time on the show, and it was clear that this was no ordinary assignment.

As we began our conversation, I was unsure how to navigate the territory of such a deeply sensitive and personal topic, but Joy made it feel like a safe haven. Her honesty, vulnerability, and openness were visible, reminding me that we were not here to merely chronicle her career or accomplishments, but to understand the profound journey of a woman who had faced challenges head-on with grace and resilience.

Our conversation unfolded like a tapestry, starting with her early success in acting and her journey into adulthood—a path paved with both brilliance and stumbles. Her candor about the pitfalls of early success was refreshing and as she shared her experiences, it was clear that her journey from the world of ‘One Tree Hill’ to the present had been an intense and unexpected one.

“How was navigating the journey into adulthood with this newfound stardom?” I asked, curiously.

“It’s given me a long runway to build from,” she begins, her eyes gleaming with a mix of gratitude and introspection. “The fact that ‘One Tree Hill’ is still making new teenage fans blows my mind. I will say, though, when I was young, I didn’t have the wherewithal to invite anyone into my life who had experienced that same kind of success and who could help guide me.”

She pauses, reflecting on those early years, and continues, “Because of that, I fell on my face a lot along the way. I think there was a blithe ignorance to young success because it subconsciously sent me the message that everything will come easily.”

As Joy speaks, her words resonate not as a tale of hardship but as a testament to her growth. She openly acknowledges the challenges she faced, including resistance from her production team when she sought other opportunities beyond the show. “Of course, when the show ended, I realized my assumption that it would be easy for me to get my next job was a complete fantasy,” she shares, her tone laced with humility.

“Everything I thought was a safety net or ‘sure thing’ in life collapsed all at once. Thank God. It was hell but it was the catalyst for me to grow up and actually learn what adulthood and maturity are. Suddenly, I had to struggle and take what I could get just to make sure my daughter and I had a roof over our heads.”

As I listen to her recount the hardship that followed ‘One Tree Hill,’ I can’t help but admire the depth of her resilience. The crash and burn, as she calls it, became a pivotal moment in her life—a moment that would ultimately lead to her growth and newfound wisdom.

“I went through a lot of trial and error, and I learned how to be thankful in spite of difficulty, how to manage my time and money, how to have relationships, how to accept myself, and how to have faith,” she says, her voice unwavering. “The crash and burn I experienced turned out to be God’s mercy to put me in a better place. And ‘stardom’ really lost all its cache for me.”

Joy’s journey from stardom to self-discovery is a testament to the power of adversity and humility. Her candid reflections offer a glimpse into the woman behind the roles—a woman who, through the challenges she faced, discovered the true essence of adulthood and resilience.

As our conversation progresses, we delve into the multifaceted world of Joy. From her evolution as an actor to her exploration into music, her experiences are a testament to her innate storytelling ability. She explains, “It’s all storytelling. Obviously, with music, there’s more of an image and brand that is useful for an audience to be able to rely on you for certain things. With acting, you actually need to strip all that off so the character can come to life.”

The fluidity with which she interchanges these two worlds is a testament to her versatility. “Those two lanes can feel at odds sometimes,” she admits. “But between singing and acting, both avenues of expression are about telling stories and bringing an audience into a world you’ve created for them to escape into and hopefully, it magnifies their own hearts, lives, experiences so they walk away with some kind of new insight.”

It’s this dedication to storytelling, this innate ability to connect with audiences on a deep level, that has been a constant thread in Joy’s career. Whether on screen or on stage, she weaves narratives that resonate long after the final curtain falls.

As we shift the focus of our conversation from acting to music, Joy’s eyes sparkle with a different kind of passion. Her transition into the world of music is not just a career shift but a profound expression of her creativity and storytelling prowess.”Well, I was never in a singing

group,” she clarifies with a chuckle, “but I do write in groups often.” Her journey into music is a testament to her collaborative spirit. “There’re huge benefits to writing with several people because there are so many good ideas flowing fast, and usually about a six-hour time limit to complete a demo from a blank page to an audio track.”

This insight into her creative process offers a glimpse into what drives her work. She elaborates further, “Also, with a group, there’s almost an unspoken, friendly competition for who’s gonna find the line we’re all looking for at any given moment. So that’s fun and keeps me sharp.”

Writing alone, however, presents its own joys and challenges. Joy finds immense satisfaction in crafting her songs meticulously, despite the longer time frame. “I’m a perfectionist, for better or worse, so having weeks or months to work on a song and shape it into exactly what I want can feel very satisfying.”

This revelation provides a deeper understanding of her creative journey. Joy’s music is not just about melodies and lyrics; it’s about the art of storytelling. Her songs are a canvas on which she paints vivid narratives, allowing her audience to step into different worlds with each composition.

“At the end of the day, though, I still always need other brains involved because production brings out a whole other side to any song,” she admits, highlighting the intricate collaborative nature of music creation.

Our conversation naturally leads to her latest single, “Strawberries.” The inspiration behind the song is refreshingly candid. “The inspiration was ‘what would happen if I just took away the box?'” she muses. “There’s a songwriting structure-box that most popular songs live in. I had just moved to Nashville a week prior, was living with friends while my house was renovated and had a moment where I wanted to write something fun and playful and not worry about whether or not it was a hit.”

The lightness in her voice as she recounts the birth of “Strawberries” is infectious. It’s a song that emerged from a place of creative liberation—a song unburdened by expectations, a song meant to be enjoyed for its unapologetic playfulness.

“It was sparked by an almost comical moment of jealousy over a girlfriend’s ankles and perfectly put-together face and life,” she shares, her laughter ringing through the conversation. “I thought I’d just run with it without any limits or expectations on myself. There was nothing to lose; it was simply an experiment to let my brain play freely.”

Joy’s approach to music is a testament to her authenticity as an artist. She creates not for the charts but for the joy of expression. “That moment turned into a little story about envy and confidence and how women interact with each other,” she explains. “Strawberries are a playful way of saying ‘yeah, I could pick myself apart and compare myself to other girls, but it’s not worth it. I like what I got.’”

It’s this unabashed celebration of self and a refusal to conform to expectations that define her. Joy’s music is a testament to her own life story, reflecting the complexities of life, love, and self-discovery.

Our conversation naturally takes a more contemplative turn as we delve into the heart of Joy’s upcoming book, a deeply personal exploration of her past experiences in a cult.

Joy opens up about the inspiration behind the book, a project that she has been working on for years. “I started working on the book a few years ago,” she shares, her tone reflective. “Just jotting notes or pouring out paragraphs as they came up in process. I never knew what the timing would be exactly, but I knew that there are too many people who’ve experienced psychological and spiritual abuse.”

Her voice carries a weight of empathy for those who have walked a similar path. “Often those people have no one to talk about it with because it’s such a hard concept to grasp,” she continues. “With physical abuse, you see marks; it’s easy to identify. Narcissistic abuse is a slow-burn occurrence and feels impossible to explain when you’re in it because you yourself are deeply confused about what’s happening.”

Her words hang in the air, a poignant reminder of the silent suffering that countless individuals endure behind closed doors. The idea behind her book is not just to recount her own experiences but to offer a lifeline to others who may find themselves in similar situations.

“The idea is to keep you in that loop of confusion, mistrusting your own ability to discern reality even, that you willingly turn over control of your life to another person who seems more wise and trustworthy than yourself,” she explains, her voice steady with resolve. “This is happening ALL the time to so many people; in families, in romantic partnerships, in groups, in churches, in office buildings…”

The gravity of her words is undeniable. Her decision to share her deeply personal journey with the world is not driven by a need for catharsis, but by a sense of responsibility to those who may still be trapped in the shadows. “I just have to talk about it and offer the tools I have to help people.”

As Joy delves deeper into the motivations behind her book, it becomes clear that her desire to shine a light on the darkness of psychological abuse is rooted in empathy and compassion. “Why now? Who knows,” she muses, acknowledging the unpredictability of life’s timing. “I would have waited another five years probably, but the buzzer went off, so it’s time to pull the pie out of the oven, I guess.”

Her metaphorical description captures the essence of her journey—a journey of unveiling, of revealing the layers of pain and healing, and ultimately, of emerging stronger and wiser.

Joy’s book is not just a narrative; it’s a beacon of hope for those who may be navigating similar treacherous waters. It’s a testament to her courage to confront the darkest corners of her past and transform that pain into a source of empowerment for others.

Our conversation with Joy takes a dynamic turn as we explore the multifaceted aspects of her life. It’s clear that her journey of growth, healing, and courage is not confined to a single realm but extends across various dimensions.

We begin by delving into the impact of her podcast, ‘Drama Queens,’ a platform for open discussions with co-hosts Hilarie Burton Morgan and Sophia Bush. “Drama Queens has been such a blessing,” she shares, a sense of gratitude in her voice. “I’m continually in awe of how fans show up and support us, year after year.”

The podcast, where they revisit their ‘One Tree Hill’ days, holds a special place in Joy’s heart. “I learn something from and about both of those women every time we tape a show,” she says, emphasizing the value of their unique bond. “And getting the chance to see them through fresh eyes makes me so happy.”

It’s clear that ‘Drama Queens’ is not just a podcast but a reunion of kindred spirits, a space for healing, laughter, and shared experiences. “That’s definitely part of the healing—really allowing myself to trust and enjoy two people who I consider family but had been closed-off from for so long because I was afraid to hear perspectives that were different from mine.”

Joy’s journey of reconnection and healing extends beyond the podcast. She opens up about her journey back to faith, a profound and deeply personal exploration. “When I left the group, I walked away from God almost completely,” she admits. “I felt strongly that there were answers to those fundamental questions of life and that they mattered more than pretty much anything else, but I was so angry and confused.”

Her return to spirituality, she explains, was a slow and deliberate process. “The idea of approaching real knowledge about God felt like resurrecting the Titanic, and since I refused to settle for anything false again, it was gonna be a long, heavy swim up.”

As Joy talks about her journey back to faith, it becomes clear that this exploration has been transformative, shaping her perspective on life and healing in profound ways. Her story is a reminder that growth is not linear but a winding path filled with challenges and discoveries.

Our conversation shifts once more, this time to the realm of fashion. Joy’s style, like her artistry, is a canvas for storytelling. “I’ve been told on multiple occasions that I’m a French girl at heart,” she chuckles. “A little mess, a little sparkle, a little sex, a little vintage but all tucked in very strategically.”

Her eclectic fashion sense is a testament to her creativity. “My closet probably looks like what you’d imagine if Sienna Miller, Margot Tennenbaum, and Marisa Tomei were roommates. …Incidentally, none of those girls are French,” she laughs as she comes to this realization.

Joy’s approach to fashion reflects her artistic spirit, a blend of playfulness and sophistication. “I’m trying to perform in clothes that are really just an elevated version of my everyday style,” she explains, highlighting the connection between her artistry and her fashion choices.

As our conversation draws to a close, I reflect on Joy’s challenging and inspiring journey through life. Her life is a long and unexpected rollercoaster. From her young stardom, to growing up and out of a toxic environment, to deciding to share that story with the world reflects the courage, wisdom, and humility demonstrated in our conversation.

From her early success in acting, navigating the complexities of fame and success at a tender age, to her foray into music as a means of storytelling, Joy embodies the spirit of an artist continually evolving and unafraid to explore new horizons.

Her forthcoming book, a deeply personal exploration of past experiences, is an example of these new horizons; it is a testament to her courage in confronting the darkest corners of her past and emerging as a guiding light for others who may be trapped in the shadows of psychological abuse. This courage to address her past experiences has also led to reconnection with her former co-stars and through their podcast, Joy has not only rekindled cherished friendships but also created a space for healing, laughter, and shared experiences—a space where the echoes of the past resonate with wisdom and warmth.

In our day spent together, Joy’s warmth, kindness, and positivity shone through, leaving an undeniable mark on those present. Her journey is a testament to the enduring power of the human spirit—the ability to grow, heal, and find courage in the face of adversity.

As we part ways, Joy’s legacy is clear—a legacy of resilience, authenticity, and a commitment to using her voice to empower others. Her story serves as a reminder that even in the most challenging of circumstances, there is a path forward—a path illuminated by growth, healing, and the unyielding courage to embrace one’s true self.

Bethany Joy Lenz, a storyteller, a musician, a friend, and a beacon of hope—a testament to the extraordinary capacity of the human spirit to overcome adversity and emerge, ever stronger, into the light.


Photography Jen Rosenstein @jenrosenstein

Creative Direction Aleksandar Tomovic @alekandsteph

Fashion Director + Styling Michael Fusco @mikeystyles

MakeUp Courtney Hart @courthart1

Hair Scott King @scottkinghair

Interview written by Robby Wong (with contribution from Isabela Costa)

Production @bellomediagroup x @maisonpriveepr_la

Special thanx to Creative PR @creativeprinc


Full digital preview available HERE Order your print copy HERE Shipping Worldwide.

Fashion Credits: Adiba, Rebecca Crews, OTT, Steven Khalil, Barollo Italy, Joanna Hadfield, VerdavainneAtra Nova By Sheila B., SemSem

One thought on “Bethany Joy Lenz”

  1. Betty mcAuley says:

    Fabulous Interview….Certainly covered the essence of Joy….and the photoshoot was unbelievable …Thankyou

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