Hilarie Burton, best known for her time as an MTV VJ on TRL and her time on One Tree Hill, has written a new memoir The Rural Diaries about her time as an actress and her life on a farm with her husband, The Walking Dead star Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
In her book, Burton shares stories about her start at MTV, including that infamous groping incident with Ben Affleck that resurfaced in 2018 at the height of the Me Too movement. She also opened up about the abuse that many of the actresses on One Tree Hill faced behind the scenes from showrunner Mark Schwann.
In a clip that went viral in 2018, a young Burton is seen getting groped on camera by Ben Affleck in 2003. At the time, Burton tweeted that she “had to laugh back then so I wouldn’t cry.” After the clip resurfaced, Affleck publicly apologized to Burton, saying:
“I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize.”
“I was nineteen, and I’d taken it on the chin and kept going. One of MTV‘s top brass called me and said, ‘You handled that so well.’ I didn’t realize that I was being groomed—trained to be a good girl and a good sport, someone who would put up with much worse behavior.”
I acted inappropriately toward Ms. Burton and I sincerely apologize
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) October 11, 2017
The worse behavior that Burton would later encounter was on the set of One Tree Hill from showrunner Mark Schwann. Burton isn’t the only person from the show who spoke out against Schwann — costar Sophia Bush also put him on much needed blast — who was apparently quite inappropriate with the female stars of the show. Burton explains:
“In my particular fairy tale there had been a villain who pitted female actors against one another, pushed us to do gratuitous sex scenes that always left me feeling ill and ashamed, told young female actors to stick their chests out, put his hands on all of us, and pushed himself on me, forcing unwanted kisses.”
Burton would eventually leave One Tree Hill after six seasons in 2009, and she writes in The Rural Diaries that the experience has influenced how she parents her daughter.
“It affects how I parent [George]. She will never be a pleaser. If my daughter tells someone to f-ck off, awesome. I wish I had had the ability to do that.”
Burton writes that the death of a close friend from high school was one of the reasons she felt the need to leave One Tree Hill, explaining that it caused a shift in her priorities.
““I had spent the previous few years wandering, never really finding my place, but I wanted more. I wanted a family. I wanted a home that could be a refuge and a blank canvas that would allow me to daydream, to take risks, to try and fail and try again. I wanted to push myself every day. I wanted to make every moment intentional. Wake up intentionally. Work intentionally. Eat intentionally. And rest intentionally.”