Moira Kelly Talks ‘One Tree Hill’ Memories & Claiming Her Space


Cast Of Tree Hill At FYE Music Store

Photo: Getty Images

Drama Queens, Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton Morgan, and Bethany Joy Lenz have always been obsessed with their One Tree Hill co-star Moira Kelly, so they are thrilled to reunite with her (on Zoom, at least) for this episode of their rewatch podcast. They talk about how much they admired her for writing and directing as well as acting and being a mom. And of course they want to hear all about how she built the character of Karen Roe. Sophia asks her how she justified, for herself, Karen staying in a small town after getting pregnant in high school? “So many people in Karen’s position might have wanted to leave,” she says. Moira says she simply took from her own life experiences. “You come up against a lot of challenges – you can either dig deep and stand your ground and fight for what you love, work real hard for what you want, not listen to the naysayers, not give in to the fear and the doubt, and keep finding a way forward….I think that translates to Karen. Why should she leave the town she loves? Why should she make it easier for Dan to not have to look at his son?”

Moira fought for things on set as well, like a chance to direct. When she finally got her chance, she knew she had to prove she deserved to be there. “I don’t want to say they were expecting me not to do well, but it was kind of a boys’ club, like, ‘Okay, let her have her little moment,’” Moira remembers. “And what I loved was when they came up to me and said, ‘Not only are you under budget in filming this, you have had days where you had downtime for the crew because you got everything done.’ And I said, ‘And why are you so surprised?’” All the women know what she’s talking about, because each of them also directed projects and know well the pressure to overperform so any mistakes aren’t chalked up to their gender. 

It’s a theme that get echoed again when they talk about Moira’s dedication to her family. When she got One Tree Hill, she says she treated it “like a 9 to 5 job,” because “I didn’t want to miss any opportunities with my children. You can’t go back and raise them again.” Joy praises her for the example she set for them about making sure they set healthy boundaries between work and home. Because of her, “some days I think, ‘I’m giving more than I need to right now. I’ve done my job, and it’s okay to save some for me and my daughter,” Joy says. Moira is quick to reinforce it: “You have to claim it, because they’re not going to give it to you. You have to claim it and then be okay with it. You have every right,” she tells them. They also get an interesting film history lesson, laugh about how Moira’s kids’ friends react when they come over and see Karen in the kitchen, and much more, all on this episode of Drama Queens.

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