Chyler Leigh as Kat Landry in the Hallmark series The Way Home. (Image: Hallmark Media)

In an industry where careers come and go, Chyler Leigh has remained a force to be reckoned with. The North Carolina native began working in Hollywood in 1997 and has appeared in countless movies and TV shows since.

The actress has become a new staple at Hallmark Media, where she stars in and produces the surprise hit series The Way Home. Written by mother-daughter team Alexandra Clarke and Heather Conkie, the drama follows three generations of women in the same family who are searching for a missing loved one and trying to make peace with themselves and each other.

The series debuted in January 2023 and quickly picked up a devoted fan base. As Season 2 plays out on TV, we are turning our attention to each of the show’s stars.

Chyler Leigh

Chyler Leigh is well-known to television audiences. From 2007 to 2021, she played Lexie Grey on the hit ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy, the half-sister of series lead Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo). She went on to appear in Supergirl and The Flash, becoming a fan favorite in each.

But Leigh has played many roles in her life. In addition to successful careers in modeling and acting, she has recorded music with her husband, Nathan West, and has acted as an advocate for those suffering from mental illness.

A little history

Leigh was born in Charlotte, NC, and lived in Virginia Beach before her family moved to Miami. She began modeling in 8th grade and acted in commercials and a Florida TV show called Hall Pass. At the age of 16, she moved to Los Angeles with her mother to pursue a career in acting.

She met fellow actor Nathan West at the age of 17 when the two appeared on the series 7th Heaven. They married in 2002 and have three children: Noah, Taelyn, and Anniston.

Leigh had roles in The Practice and That ’80s Show before starring in the 2001 hit comedy Not Another Teen Movie.

Mental health advocate

Leigh has been open about her mental health struggles. She 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.”

Helping others

Leigh became an advocate with Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, which meant coming out of her comfort zone.

“I’ve always been a very kind of private person,” she said. “I think mostly because of being afraid of having my story out there and being labeled as anything because there is very often such a negative stigma about it. That fear of judgment and ‘Oh, if people see me this way, that means that I’m not good enough or I’m not well enough to be able to take care of myself’ or whatever it might be. But, being able to have a fantastic platform to be able to speak my story and know that it’s going to reach a tremendous amount of people, that was major motivation for me [to speak out].”

The Way Home

In a 2022 Instagram post, Leigh shared the news that she would be joining the cast of a new series on Hallmark Channel.

“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 plays Kat Landry on The Way Home. When the series started, Kat was living in Chicago with her teenage daughter, Alice (played by Sadie Laflamme-Snow), and dealing with her recent divorce. After getting fired from her job as a journalist, she decided to return to her hometown and visit her estranged mother (played by Andie MacDowell).

When she arrived home, she was forced to deal with the pain of losing her brother, Jacob, who disappeared when she was a teenager. But when her daughter discovered a way to time travel, Kat became determined to solve the mystery of what happened to her brother.

Executive producer

Leigh has been enthusiastic about her new role as executive producer on The Way Home.

“I had much more space to give my input this year and it has been so rewarding,” she said in an interview with Uinterview. “Being behind the camera is something that I absolutely love, so watching the processes of creating these environments and creating these worlds and how difficult that actually can be, I love being a part of that.”

The Way Home airs on Hallmark Channel. Check local listings for dates and times.

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