By: Lizzy Buczak
Bethany Joy Lenz, best known for her role as Hailey James Scott on One Tree Hill, is returning to TV after a year-long hiatus. When One Tree Hill ended in mid 2012, Joy took a break from acting to spend time with her daughter. The legal debate around her divorce put her career on hold, but when everything subsided she was able to get back into the groove of things.
One Tree Hill lasted nine seasons, which required Joy to dedicate nine years of her life to The CW drama. During her “comeback” Joy decided to concentrate on projects that were “strategically designed to move her career in a direction that was not quite the same thing as she was doing on One Tree Hill.”
Auditions for the show came up and Joy told her manager she wanted to jump into sitcom work and get her feet wet, to see if she still enjoyed it. “Lucky me, I won the job” she exclaimed. Cue in her first comedy sitcom in about eleven years.
Joy appeared on Men at Work, starring Danny Masterson of That 70’s Show. The episode, The Pioneer, aired on May 9, 2013 where Joy played Meg, a single mother and love interest for Tyler (played by Michael Cassidy).
“The first three days, the first two and a half days, were really difficult for me because I haven’t done comedy in a really long time.” In addition, Joy had to face the difficulty of appearing on an unfamiliar set as a guest star.
“Walking back onto a completely new set which didn’t feel like home and I didn’t feel the comforts that you feel after you’ve been on a series for ten years and you know everyone there. I was walking on a brand new set desperately hoping to contribute something to this great show that I really respected”
So what did help Joy during the filming? All the cute guys, she joked. In reality she admitted it was all about loosening up and finding energy from the audience. “I have a tendency to hold back a little at first, to be respectful to the environment and figure out where I fit in. Maybe I should talk to my therapist about that. Maybe I need to be more present and bring more to the table. ”
One of Joy’s weakest points as an artist is comedy improv, she admitted. “I could do drama improv with no problem. When people expect me to be funny, and their looking at me like boom make a joke! I kind of freeze up like Ah, I can’t handle the pressure. So that was challenging for me, which is another reason I really wanted to do it.”
Joy admits that on the set of OTH there wasn’t much improv, but she joked that the writers would probably disagree with her as she never stuck to the script and was always changing the lines. “I was probably the bane of their existence for ten years.”
At first the situation was stressful but than Joy admitted, feeling the audience’s energy and hearing the immediate laugh was really helpful. Just like anyone else, Joy recalls coaching herself through the process. “Thank God they like me. I was funny. Oh good. It’s working.” Joy exclaimed. I
She might be trying to break out of the mold, but that doesn’t mean she’s changing her career to comedy. After her appearance on Men At Work, Joy will continue honing her drama skills on the final season (8) of Dexter. She explains the decision to be on the show was a very rash, but obvious one. “Will you be on Dexter” they asked, to which Joy replied, “Uh yes, I will.”