The Long-Ago Soap That Gave Hallmark Star Bethany Joy Lenz Her Showbiz Start

Bethany Joy Lenz is best known for playing the role of Haley James Scott on the popular teen drama "One Tree Hill." On the show, Lenz showed off her acting skills as a studious yet strong-willed high school student who finds herself stuck between her friendship with her longtime pal Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) and her love for his bad boy half-brother Nathan Scott (James Lafferty). Haley quickly grew into a fan-favorite character as she became a teacher, singer, and so much more during the show's 9-season run. Viewers loved watching the character evolve from a teenager into a businesswoman, wife, and mother. However, fans know that Lenz is known for much more than just her role as Haley. She's also appeared in many different movies and TV shows in her career.

Lenz has been seen in movies such as "Thinner," "Extortion," "End of August," "Blindfire," and "So Cold the River." She's also appeared in several popular TV shows like "Charmed," "Felicity," "Dexter," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "Grey's Anatomy," "Life Unexpected," "Men at Work," and many more.

However, one of the actor's most significant breaks was when she landed a role on the classic soap opera "Guiding Light" in 1998.

Bethany Joy Lenz played Michelle Bauer Santos on Guiding Light

Bethany Joy Lenz joined "Guiding Light" as the character Michelle Bauer, taking over the role from fan-favorite actor Rebecca Budig. Viewers of the now-defunct soap opera may remember that Michelle was the daughter of Ed Bauer and Claire Ramsey and was born on-screen in 1985. Michelle had a tough childhood, as her mother was neglectful and even tried to kill her. As a teen, Michelle fell hard for Zachary Smith, who later died in a boating accident.

Michelle went on to have other loves, such as Jesse Blue, Bill Lewis, and Tony Santos. However, it was Danny Santos who really stole her heart. However, their relationship wasn't easy. Michelle was responsible for killing Danny's older brother, Mick Santos, after he attacked her on the beach. This caused Danny's mother, Carmen, to hate Michelle.

However, the couple prevailed and went on to have two children together, Hope and Robbie. The duo eventually left town together and settled in California. However, they returned in 2009 for the Bauer BBQ. They eventually decided to move back to Springfield before the soap opera was officially canceled and went off the air in September 2009. For her part, Lenz portrayed the iconic character from 1998 until 2000 before moving on to other projects.

What's Bethany Joy Lenz doing now?

These days, after finding success on "Guiding Light," "One Tree Hill," and with her other projects, Bethany Joy Lenz has been keeping busy working for The Hallmark Channel. The soap alum has starred in several movies for the network, including "A Valentine's Match," "Just My Type," "Royal Matchmaker," "The Christmas Secret," and more. She's also set to appear in the 2023 Hallmark Christmas film "A Biltmore Christmas" alongside Kristoffer Polaha.

In addition to her work with Hallmark, Lenz has also been busy with her podcast, "Drama Queens." The podcast sees the actor teaming up with her former "One Tree Hill" co-stars, Hilarie Burton and Sophia Bush, as they rewatch the show, reminisce about filming, share behind-the-scenes details, and open up about personal matters that were happening in their lives during that time. They also welcome former cast members like Moira Kelly, Lee Norris, Antwon Tanner, Paul Johansson, and more to talk about their experiences while filming the show.

It seems that Bethany Joy Lenz has come a long way since her days as Michelle Bauer on "Guiding Light," and fans have loved seeing her career blossom over the years.