How Hilarie Burton Broke Free From The Toxic Culture Of One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill star who spoke up about abuse

Hilarie Burton is best known for playing Peyton Sawyer on One Tree Hill, a popular teen drama that ran for nine seasons. But behind the scenes, the actress was enduring a nightmare of sexual harassment and emotional abuse from the show’s creator, Mark Schwahn.

In 2017, Burton and 17 other women who worked on the show came forward with a letter accusing Schwahn of creating a hostile work environment where he would touch them inappropriately, make lewd comments, and threaten their careers if they resisted or complained.

The letter stated: “Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be.”

Schwahn was fired from his subsequent show, The Royals, after similar allegations surfaced. He has never publicly addressed the claims made against him.

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Burton, who left One Tree Hill after six seasons, recently opened up about how speaking out against Schwahn was a liberating experience for her. She told Page Six: “It is an age-old lesson, that honesty is always better, it sets you free. I think when you’re young, you’re led to believe that keeping quiet about things is how you protect people you care about, and what I’ve learned is that speaking up is way better.”

The actress, who is married to The Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan, also said that she runs her “mouth about a lot of stuff” and has no regrets about calling out Schwahn or other people who have wronged her in the past.

She said: “Honesty is always better.”

Burton’s courage and honesty have inspired many fans and fellow actors who have faced similar situations in Hollywood. She has also shown that she is not defined by her trauma, but by her talent and resilience.




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