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Bethany Joy Lenz Speaks on Growing Up and Giving Back

The One Tree Hill star dishes on her new feel-good holiday film and her passion for social justice.

Bethany Joy Lenz in The Christmas Secret
Credit: © Crown Media United States, LLC

Bethany Joy Lenz is best known as the beloved character Haley James Scott on the CW’s popular teen drama One Tree Hill. In the time since OTH ended, the actress has added quite a few titles to her resume: musician, mother and activist, and the 33-year-old is just getting started.

In her latest project, Hallmark’s feel-good seasonal movie The Christmas Secret, Lenz plays Christine, a struggling single mother who needs more than a little help over the holidays, a role she says many women will be able to relate to:

“[Christine] really loves being with her kids. She just wants to have a healthy relationship with her ex-husband, she just wants peace in her life. I know a lot of women like that who, the simplicity of their life inspires me, and so I felt like that was an important character for people to relate to.”

Lenz is also excited to be a part of a film she thinks her young daughter will enjoy and hopefully learn from. “Christmas miracles that are based in some kind of otherworldly magic, I love that kind of stuff,” Lenz said. “But what I was drawn to about this [film] was that it was the kind of magic that is so tangible to all of us, that happens to us in our everyday lives that you just don’t know how to explain. I love that there were all of these unrelated characters intersecting in each other’s lives and everyone doing something kind, always making the kind choice. I just thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be lovely, that kind of magic that we could create if people made choices like that?’”

Making the kind choice comes easily for the star. Heavily involved with several charities and human rights organizations, Lenz is deeply passionate about her philanthropic work. After receiving a barrage of requests from fans about when they could expect to hear new music from the talented artist, Lenz decided to ditch the normal formula for producing an album and instead, chose to give back to the issues closest to her heart.

“I had an organization that I met with in London called Oasis and they’re sort of the umbrella corporation for a company called Stop The Traffik which is doing a lot to stop human labor and sex trafficking and so I thought, let’s kill two birds with one stone. Let’s give everybody a teaser of the music that they’re asking for and let’s also make it count for something and bring in some money for an organization that needs it, that’s making great strides for a cause I feel passionate about.”

The result was a kickstarter campaign where fans could donate money to fund Lenz’s musical project. A part of the proceeds were donated to help end the trafficking of young children. “Who lives the kind of life I’ve been given and doesn’t want to give back?” Lenz said. “I have an amazing daughter, I have love in my life, I have friends, I have food on the table every night. There’s just no excuse not to get out there and try and help other people because of everything that I’ve been given. And it’s just a fire inside of me; I have a fire for justice.”

That fire spills over into everything she does, including acting. “I never feel more connected to the depth of who I am and my connection with God than in the moment when I am being fully me and doing what I was meant to do. When I’m acting, when I’m singing, they both come out of that place inside of me.”

The Christmas Secret airs at various times throughout November and December 2015 on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. Check your local listings.

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