Sophia Bush was born on July 8, 1982, in Pasadena, California. She attended Westridge School for Girls, where it was compulsory for all students to take part in the Theatre Arts Programme. At first, she despised it and preferred to play volleyball instead, but ended up falling in love with acting because of the idea of playing another character on stage. This later led to her decision to pursue a career in acting.
She attended the University of Southern California and majored in Journalism but left without completing her degree when she was met with the opportunity to star in One Hill Tree, a show that follows the lives of a group of teenagers and the obstacles they face as they become young adults, lasting from 2003 to 2012. She played the part of her character, Brooke Davis, for 9 years and grew up playing Brooke throughout high school. The character, Brooke, went from seeking validation from teenage boys to learning that others’ opinions don’t matter as much, shaping her into the strong woman fans know today. This can be seen in this picture of her breaking away from the stereotypes she faced. Brooke’s character development was heavily influenced by Sophia Bush, who pushed for her character to change whilst experiencing sexual harassment, and physical and emotional manipulation as a woman on set. Whilst filming One Tree Hill, she also played the role of Beth in John Tucker Must Die (2006), a movie about teenage girls taking revenge against a teenage player.
Another major role Sophia Bush played was Detective Erin Lindsay in Chicago P.D, which brought her to also star in other shows that are part of NBC’s Chicago series. She played the role from 2014 to 2017 but terminated her 7-year contract early due to the working conditions on set. As a woman, she knew what she deserved and did not tolerate the verbal abuse she faced as one of the only women on the show. Therefore, she set an example for young girls and women by motivating them to stand up for themselves and not, as Bush says, “program [her]self to tolerate the intolerable”.
Bush has grown to become more involved in anything and everything she stands for, including the political issues during Barack Obama’s candidacy for president in 2008. In 2011, she won the “Do Something” award on Twitter for her part in spreading the word on how we could do our part in the cleanup after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. In the same year, she became involved in the organization, Pencils of Promise, where she dedicated her 30th birthday to raising $30,000 to build schools in Guatemala and Laos. Additionally, she is a global ambassador for Glamour’s The Girl Project to break down barriers faced by girls worldwide when trying to receive secondary school education.
In April of 2013, she not only raised awareness about the “Live Below the Line” anti-poverty campaign, but she also tried living on $1.50 a day for 5 days to educate her followers about the hardships faced by people living in extreme poverty. At the same time, Sophia hosted a Prizeo Campaign to raise funds for the I Am That Girl, a non-profit that motivates young girls and women in order to build their self-esteem and push them to their full potential.
In 2018, Sophia became one of the founding members of the Time’s Up Movement, a non-profit that aims to raise money for victims of sexual assault. Some of her contributions include creating a clothing line to fundraise for Planned Parenthood and giving a speech at the Women’s March on January 20th in Los Angeles. During her speech, she highlighted the importance of women in our country and explained how to continue advocating for the basic rights of every person. She also co-founded “I am a voter.” with Mandana Dayani in 2018, a public awareness campaign that aims to create a cultural shift around voting by unifying the voter base: democracy works best when we all participate. Through this platform, she promotes awareness of registration tools and encourages others to vote.
In 2019, Bush started her own podcast, “Work in Progress,” where she invites inspiring guests and has insightful, funny, and personal conversations with them. She has guest-starred influential people like Zoe Lister-Jones and Justin Baldoni, who have discussed femininity, sexuality, self-confidence, mental health, and the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on racism and police brutality. These discussions work to emphasize and inform her listeners of some current affairs as well as gain insight into certain influential people’s lifestyles. More recently, Bush has talked about advocating to overturn Roe v. Wade by informing her followers about abortion rights on her social media platforms.
On June 11, 2022, Sophia got married but kept it out of the media. During this time, she was also working alongside Vogue Magazine to produce an article on how abortion has impacted her relationship with her now ex-husband, Grant Hughes. Bush states that without the abortion of her husband’s previous partner, she may not have been married to him. Together, they founded the Bush-Hughes Foundation for Progress, with the purpose of raising money and awareness to support individuals or organizations that work toward equity, justice, and progress in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Sophia Bush has proven herself to not only be an actress but also an activist and advocate for every underrepresented member of society. Furthermore, she has continued to work in the film industry, recently playing the lead role in Good Sam. She has been recognized for her social work by receiving the “Nelson Mandela Change Maker” award, used to recognize individuals who carry on his legacy through activism in their community, and the Redefine Possible Women’s leadership award.
I was first introduced to Bush through her acting role in Chicago P.D and my fascination with her grew from there. This was initiated through my interest in the justice system and her role as the only female detective in the show. I began to research more about her and the other roles she played as an actress. Her selflessness and ability to educate her fans through her social media platform is inspiring and has allowed me to learn more about the world. Her actions have and will continue to motivate many, including myself, to stand up for themselves and what they believe in.
Dory Jackson, (2022, March 22), Sophia Bush’s experience from working on set, retrieved from https://people.com/tv/sophia-bush-tired-of-reliving-past-unpleasantries-from-one-tree-hill-chicago-pd/
David Oliver, (2022, January 5), Sophia’s return to film work after previously bad experiences, retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/tv/2022/01/05/sophia-bush-returns-tv-good-sam-after-chicago-pd-one-tree-hill/8896947002/
Jennifer Maas, (2018, December 11), Bush’s reason behind leaving Chicago P.D, retrieved from https://www.thewrap.com/sophia-bush-says-she-quit-chicago-pd-due-to-abusive-behavior-intolerable-on-set-conditions/
USC, (2020, October), Biography of Sophia Bush for a sit through meeting, retrieved from https://annenberg.usc.edu/events/m2e-womens-leadership-society/voter-participation-and-activism-sophia-bush#:~:text=Since%20taking%20to%20social%20media,for%20Glamour's%20The%20Girl%20Project.
Hanna Flanagan, (2021, April 6), Candid Conversation on Sophia Bush’s career, retrieved from https://people.com/tv/sophia-bush-on-being-an-unapologetic-activist/
Shayna Rabin, (2020, June 23), How Sophia Bush inspires the younger generations, retrieved from https://highschool.latimes.com/cleveland-charter-high-school/sophia-bushs-activism-inspires-students/
Layla Ilchi, (2020, March 5), Sophia Bush’s partnership for International women’s day campaign, retrieved from https://wwd.com/eye/people/sophia-bush-intermix-international-womens-day-2020-campaign-interview-1203531743/
Georgia Aspinall, (2021, September 6), Sophia Bush’s influence on her character in One Tree Hill, retrieved from https://graziadaily.co.uk/life/in-the-news/sophia-bush-brooke-davis-character-arc-one-tree-hill/
Pencils of Promise, (2012, July 8), Sophia Bush’s contributions towards Pencils of Promises campaign, retrieved from https://pencilsofpromise.org/a-very-special-birthday-2/#:~:text=Sophia%20Bush%20is%20donating%20her,come%20true%2C%20and%20it%20did
Alexandra Macon, (2022, July 14), Inside Sophia Bush and Grant Hughes’s wedding in Tulsa, retrieved from https://www.vogue.com/slideshow/sophia-bush-tulsa-oklahoma-wedding
The Bush Hughes Foundation For Progress. (2022). Bush Highes Foundation’s mission, retrieved from https://www.bushhughesfoundation.org/
This article was published on 2/5/24