Bethany Joy Lenz reveals cult forced her to give up 'dream' role
EXCLUSIVE: One Tree Hill star Bethany Joy Lenz, 42, opens up about ‘excruciating’ decade she spent in an ‘abusive’ cult – revealing horrifying tactics they used to control her and how ‘encounters with powerful men’ as a child star pushed her into joining
- Bethany, 42, spent a decade as a member of an unnamed religious cult
- She told DailyMail.com being in the spotlight as a teen made her an easy target
- The actress also dished on the organization’s ‘excruciatingly painful’ tactics
One Tree Hill star Bethany Joy Lenz has opened up about the time she spent in an ‘abusive’ cult – and revealed how ‘encountering men in powerful positions’ as a child star ultimately pushed her into the group.
Bethany, 42, previously revealed that she was a member of an unnamed religious organization that used ‘isolation’ to ‘manipulate’ her for more than a decade.
Now, she has spoken out about her time with the horrific sect even further to DailyMail.com – and she admitted that being in the spotlight as a teen made her an easier target for them.
She also dished on the ‘excruciatingly painful’ tactics that the institution used to control almost everything in her life – which even included what acting roles she took.
One Tree Hill’s Bethany Joy Lenz opened up about her time in an ‘abusive’ cult – and revealed how ‘encountering men in powerful positions’ as a child star pushed her into the group
Bethany (seen center in One Tree Hill), 42, previously revealed that she was a member of an unnamed religious organization that used ‘isolation’ to ‘manipulate’ her for more than a decade
Now, she has spoken out about her time with the horrific sect even further to DailyMail.com – and she admitted that being in the spotlight as a teen made her an easier target for them
She claimed that the leaders forced her to turn down one of her ‘dream’ parts, which left her ‘weeping’ for days on end.
‘I was actually offered Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. The role I had been auditioning for on-and-off since I was about 16,’ she recalled.
‘I need to talk about what my life was like as a child actor and some of those experiences that I had encountering men in powerful positions when I was 14 years old and stuck in a room with them alone,’ Bethany (seen in her first role at 11 years old) said. ‘Those things affect how you move through your life in the future’
‘It was totally my absolute Broadway dream role. I had auditioned, and then I went in again and I read for producers, and then I had a work session with the musical director. And I got the offer, and I couldn’t believe that.’
Bethany – who recently released her brand new single, Strawberries – said she was ‘so excited’ but was ‘convinced’ by the ‘people that she trusted’ that it wasn’t right for her because she needed to ‘rest.’
‘They said that I should turn it down because “you can’t out give God.” That was the idea,’ she continued.
‘[They said], “You just let it go and God will bring something else back.” But it was the most painful [thing], [just] excruciating.
‘I just remember weeping, [I was] so sad to let that part go. And I did, I turned it down. I grew up in musical theater. All I ever wanted to do was Broadway.’
In the end, however, Bethany noted that if she had joined the musical it would have resulted in a ‘totally different trajectory’ for her life, so looking back now, she wouldn’t change a thing.
Bethany (seen in 2021) said the leaders of the group forced her to turn down her ‘dream role’ as Belle in Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, which left her ‘weeping’ for days on end
She is currently in the midst of working on a memoir about her experience, which will come out early next year
‘That was a tough one and every time I hear the songs or see the show in little kids’ school productions or whatever, I’m always a little like…,’ she trailed off. ‘But the truth is my daughter wouldn’t exist if I did take that.’
Bethany is currently in the midst of working on a memoir about her experience, which will come out early next year.
She explained to DailyMail.com that while the book would focus heavily on her time in the group, it would also contain intimate details about her rise to fame, which she said played a big part in her eventual indoctrination into the cult.
‘The big main chunk of the memoir is about my time in this high-demand group, [but] I need to be able to give context,’ she explained.
‘I need to talk about what my life was like as a child actor and the house that I grew up in, and some of those experiences that I had encountering men in powerful positions when I was 14 years old and stuck in a room with them alone.
‘Those things affect how you move through your life in the future. And so there will be a lot of that just backstory because it’s important for context.’
The star, who grew up in Hollywood, Florida, started acting as a child – starring in a slew of commercials before landing her first minor role in the movie Psalty’s Salvation Celebration in 1992, when she was only 11.
In the years that followed, she had a few small appearances in various films and shows before her breakthrough part came in 1998, at age 17, in the soap opera Guiding Light.
Five years later, she joined the cast of CW’s One Tree Hill, which quickly turned her into one of the biggest stars.
She also recently released her new single, Strawberries, and is in the midst of recording her next album
While chatting with DailyMail.com, the mother-of-one says that she has no regrets when it comes to her journey – despite the awful years she spent with the religious organization
‘I’m not going to lay down and just let it kick me. You pick it up. You got to take control of things and use it to help. I can’t sit around just reliving it all the time, being sad,’ she shared
On top of her acting career, Bethany is also a successful singer and has released five albums over the years.
While chatting with DailyMail.com, the mother-of-one explained that she had no regrets when it came to her journey – despite the awful years she spent with the religious organization.
‘My life exists and what happens to me will happen to me. And so, I don’t know that going back and saying I wish I had not had that happen is helpful,’ she explained.
‘If it wasn’t that it would’ve been something else. So, it’s the devil you know. That’s the devil I know.
‘I’m not going to lay down and just let it kick me. You pick it up. You got to take control of things and use it to help. I can’t sit around just reliving it all the time, being sad.’
As for why she stayed with the organization for so long, she explained, ‘There’s a lot of reasons [why] people stay in abusive situations.
‘There [could be] something really good about it. Like, if you’re in an abusive relationship but the sex is really good – a lot of people will stay for a long time because of that.
‘Or because six days out of the seven, the person treats you really well, but then on the seventh day you have a black eye.
‘I think group dynamics, cult dynamics are like that, it’s the same thing. There’s a lot that actually feels really good and feels really fun about it.
‘There certainly wasn’t a shortage of laughter, but there was no shortage of weeping as well and deep depression.’
The actress explained that while she was still ‘in a lot of pain’ from it, she was trying to ‘process’ it all and stay ‘vulnerable,’ which was why she decided to be so open about it.
She added that there was ‘an element of freedom’ in not being ‘ashamed’ of what happened to her.
The actress explained that while she was still ‘in a lot of pain’ from it, she was trying to ‘process’ it all and stay ‘vulnerable,’ which was why she decided to be so open about it
‘Yeah, I was in a cult and that’s pretty f***ing crazy. But you have to forgive yourself – if you don’t forgive yourself, how are you ever going to laugh again?’ she said.
‘How are you ever going to enjoy life if you’re constantly just lording your own mistakes over yourself?’
She’s now focused on her upcoming book – and she is also in the midst of recording her next album.
‘I definitely would love to tour and I’m definitely planning on making an album,’ she dished to DailyMail.com.
‘We’re going to start doing a single probably every three months, and then we’ll compile an album with other songs that you haven’t heard.
‘In the meantime, I’m just plugging away on this stuff. I’m having so much fun in Nashville working in country music.’
Bethany previously told Variety that she grew up in a Christian household, and that she was roped into the cult when she joined a weekly bible study group in her ‘early 20s’ and ‘the person that was brought into the leadership position’ turned out to be a ‘sociopath.’
She also recalled how her One Tree Hill costars desperately tried to help her, but admitted that she was unfortunately in too deep.
‘It was the whisper behind the scenes, like “You know, she’s in a cult.” For a while, they were all trying to save me and rescue me, which is lovely and so amazing to be cared about in that way,’ she recalled.
‘But I was very stubborn. I was really committed to what I believed were the best choices I could make.’
She also reflected on the moment that she finally realized she was being manipulated to Entertainment Tonight.
‘I think control affects everyone in different ways, but there there are specific moments that I can call back to that I remember feeling like, “This is no longer just my relationship with God. Now, there is someone else in the mix,”‘ she stated.
Bethany added that a lot of her realizations about her situation came through her time on the set of One Tree Hill, and then again when she became a mom to her daughter, Maria, in 2011, whom she shares with ex-husband Michael Galeotti.
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