Actress and mental health advocate Chyler Leigh has joined the cast of the new Hallmark series The Way Home. She joins Andie MacDowell, who starred in Hallmark’s Cedar Cove, and Sadie Laflamme-Snow in the cast.
“Took time off to work hard on myself,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “It’s not been easy. Letting go of the past can be quick or a lifelong journey. But it’s a journey that is so so worth the climb. My thanks to those who have helped me along the way. I’m standing on a new mountain top and am so excited for what’s on the horizon. @hallmarkchannel #TheWayHome #KatLandry … here we go.”
Leigh, who played Dr. Lexie Grey on the series Grey’s Anatomy, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of 29 after voluntarily checking herself into a hospital.
“I was so terrified because of my past,” she said in an interview with Prevention. “I was so worried about turning into all of the things I hated when I was growing up, but it was life or death. I was going to make a change, or I wouldn’t be here anymore.”
About 7 million Americans live with bipolar disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. A person going through a manic episode may feel elated, energized, and reckless, while a depressive episode can result in total loss of energy, trouble concentrating, and feelings of hopelessness.
Leigh said she first noticed the signs as an adolescent when the sound of clinking dishes filled her with rage. She also experienced recklessness, mood swings, and trouble sleeping. She said she suppressed her feelings for years.
“I closed off and developed a shell around me,” she said.
The actress threw herself into her work and into the responsibility of raising three children. Eventually, she became overwhelmed.
“I was constantly hiding layers of myself, trying to come off as pretty and palatable,” she says. “I wanted to pass off as ‘I’m doing fine,’ but when I went to the hospital it was very clear that I was not.”
Leigh has been an outspoken advocate for people affected by mental illness. She has also kept busy as an actress, starring in TV shows such as Supergirl and The Flash.
The Way Home
Filming has already begun on The Way Home. In the series, Leigh plays Kat Landry, who has been estranged from her mother (played by MacDowell) for so long that she’s never even introduced her to her daughter, Alice (played by Sadie Laflamme-Snow). According to a synopsis from Hallmark, the three women are thrown together by unforeseen circumstances and “embark on an enlightening journey to find their way back to each other and learn important lessons about their family’s past.”
The series will premiere in 2023.