Chyler Leigh Has Found Several Parallels From Her Real Life With Character Kat In “The Way Home”

"I’m enormously proud of this show."

Hallmark’s new original primetime series, The Way Home, is a bonafide hit and at the helm of this time-traveling, multi-generational family drama are two Southerners. Andie MacDowell, a South Carolina native and Chyler Leigh who was born in Charlotte, grew up in Virginia, and now lives in Nashville, star as mother and daughter Del and Kat Landry. These two women along with the rest of this cast and crew have created something special and unlike anything we’ve ever seen on Hallmark before. 

Chyler Leigh

Mike Coppola / Staff/Getty Images

The Way Home jumps between 1999 and present day in the lives of the Landry family and their small town community as they process a tragic event–in the past and the present. In 1999, when Kat was just a teenanger, her little brother Jacob went missing. The case remains unsolved in 2023, and the show chronicles what happened to this family in the time in between. The horrific loss of Jacob fractured the foundation of the Landry family and when the show begins, Kat is coming home for the first time in 20 years with her teenage daughter Alice, whom her mother Del has never met. Kat is divorced and just lost her job and her relationship with her own daughter is strained as well. This show has so many layers and complicated situations, and each week we learn a little bit more. For Chyler Leigh, the storyline and the role of Kat just felt like it was meant for her, as she recently told Southern Living

“There are so many things that I could actually relate to Kat personally about. And one of them was, I have two teenage daughters, 16 and 13. And while the family dynamics aren’t the same, it’s still, they are teenagers. My husband and I have been together, I was turning 17 when we met. And then I actually have a pretty estranged relationship with my mother that spans a couple of decades. So when this came into my lap, I was like what is happening? Granted, I don’t have a pond that can magically take you back to 1999, and again, all the circumstances aren’t exactly the same. However, there were so many aspects of it that I just really relate to and I think where I was able to contribute into Kat.”

Another issue that Kat faces is one that Leigh is familiar with in her real life as well. “One of the aspects that I really loved about Kat and you’ll get to see it as the season progresses, is that she has panic attacks. And has these moments where she just is so completely overwhelmed. And you actually get to see a certain degree of panic attack. I’ve had them in my own life and so I know what it’s like.”

The Grey’s Anatomy alum also said she’s already hearing from viewers who say that they suffer from panic attacks and anxiety and appreciate seeing it depicted this way on screen. 

“To address these super real life and raw emotions, I think it’s just been something that people have been able to find themselves in each one of these characters and each one of these scenarios. And that’s what’s making it so relatable… That is something that was so appealing about this and just the ability to share it on a network like Hallmark. They gave us an amazing amount of runway to be able to explore and to take risks. And it’s been really paying off. Everybody who worked on this show, in front of camera and behind camera, creatively, writing, producing, no matter what department you’re in, particularly the cast as well, really we’ve had an incredibly magical time, no pun intended, working on this. And it’s a great privilege to be able to bring it to a network that already has such a passionate following.”

Leigh enjoys watching the series just as much as she loves making it. “I’m enormously proud of this show. I watch it with my whole family. My three kids and my husband. We have been watching it. And I love it. My 19-year-old son is excited to come down and watch the show and I think that’s a pretty cool compliment.”

Be sure to tune in Sunday nights for The Way Home on Hallmark Channel.

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