One Tree Hill stars supported me leaving cult after a decade – Bethany Joy Lenz

One Tree Hill actress Bethany Joy Lenz said the sheer presence, encouragement and kindness from her co-stars made a “big difference” when deciding to leave a cult after a decade.

The 42-year-old is known for her role as Haley James Scott in the original cast of the US drama, opposite James Lafferty, Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush and Chad Michael Murray.

During her time on the show, which aired from 2003 to 2012, Lenz was part of a cult and has spoken about her fellow actors’ approach to the situation.

“What they did help I think was just by their sheer presence and professionalism and kindness,” she told the Biscuits & Jam podcast.

“Their confidence in my ability, I was a smart person. I was a good actor. You can’t be a good actor without being smart.

“You can’t dissect a script without being able to assess things. But I had a big blind spot in my life, and everybody does, and mine was something that I was going to have to work out on my own.

“But in the mean time, I think a lot of the people there, whether consciously or subconsciously, knew that just their presence and being an encouragement and letting me know that they still loved and cared about me in spite of the fact that I was a little weird, that made a big difference.”

Lenz said it made her feel as though “there was a safety” when the time came for her to leave that group.

“I did still feel that there were many open arms and that felt really really good and it was very helpful,” she said.

The US actress and singer also said she is getting “real close” to finishing her book about her cult experiences – which is set for release in 2024.

“It was 10 years of pretty intense mental, spiritual, financial abuse,” she said.

Lenz added that she wants the book to create a space where people can “find out about some crazy stuff” but also relate to it, and ultimately for people to know “there is life after trauma”.