For many twenty-somethings aspiring to make it big in Hollywood, landing a small film or television role would be enough to make things worthwhile.
Bethany Joy Lenz had stars in her eyes from a young age and after earning bit commercial roles, took her talents to the left coast from her native Florida. Years after her breakout role on “Guiding Light,” this triple threat, seen now on “One Tree Hill,” is poised to release her debut album of original music.
Lenz, 24, who currently stars as Haley James on the hit WB series, continues her television role when the program returns this week from a month long hiatus to finish out its second season. On the show, her character is enticed by musician Chris, played by Tyler Hilton, to leave her husband and join a concert tour to further her musical talents on the road.
With the show still filming while off the air, the actress found herself pulling double duty on her off time; she traveled for a month long concert tour supporting a bill that also included Maverick recording artist Hilton and The Wreckers [Michelle Branch and Jessica Harp]. The real-life “One Tree Hill Tour,” which stopped at Foxwoods Casino last month, mirrored the fictional tour that was seen on the show, and Lenz was joined by fellow cast mates on select dates.
Being able to indulge her inner-musician during “One Tree Hill” filming was great for Lenz, but she recognizes that the live shows are a totally different gig, with only one shot to showcase her musical ability to audiences.
“On camera you’re on film and you do the [scene] 20 times or more and you’re lip-synching to a prerecorded track that you’ve already gone into the studio and recorded …on stage you have the live audience feeding back at you and its just one time through. It’s fun,” Lenz said, in a recent phone conversation while traveling between tour stops.
Singing since her childhood days, Lenz was afforded the perfect outlet to showcase some of her own material, in addition to songs she performed with Hilton on “One Tree Hill.” In preparation for the nationwide trek, she hit a Brooklyn recording studio with friends to produce “Come on Home,” a release sold exclusively at tour stops.
Looking ahead to the remainder of the “One Tree Hill” season, Lenz says she is unsure of how her character will fare on the road with the fictional tour, but enjoys the opportunity to infuse her own flair into the writers’ depictions of Haley.
“[Bringing Haley to life is] totally up to me because I’m playing her. I get a chance to really add all the levels in and whatever it is that I feel I want to convey to the audience,” she said, adding that her show’s staff enhances character development by stretching plot lines throughout a series of episodes.
Working with fellow cast members Chad Michael Murray, Sophia Bush, James Lafferty and Hilarie Burton is a treat for the actress, since many of the show’s stars are in a similar age bracket. However, like any other job, at the end of the day they all enjoy time away from the set.
“We don’t have lots of off-set relationships because we work such long hours,” Lenz said, of the cast. “By the time we go home, all we really want to do is split up and go and be alone. It’s not like we get sick of each other [but after long days of filming] you just get over people. We all get along and we definitely have fun together on set. It’s a good time.”
With “One Tree Hill” signed to a seven year contract from Warner Brothers, Lenz continues to enjoy the success of the show, but realizes that it may not last forever. In addition to musical performances that supplement her acting career, Lenz says she has aspirations of teaching someday, either English or history.
Making a name for herself in the acting business was no easy feat, but the actress continues to remain humble and always remembers her roots.
“I have my home and my family and that’s what’s safe for me,” Lenz says. “I go to work and do my job like everybody else in the country. My job I happen to love and it’s definitely in a different medium than someone who’s working in a cubicle, but I still go to work and do the best that I can.
“The excess things like the perks and the fans and all that kind of stuff, it’s not why I’m in [the business]. I can just enjoy it as a blessing instead of something that I have to adjust to and find a new way to deal with,” Lenz said.