NAME: Drew and Lea Lachey
AGE: Both are 44
WHO ARE THEY: Drew was famously a member of 98 Degrees with his brother Nick and continues to perform; Lea is a choreographer, director, and teacher.
At what age did you leave Cincinnati, and when did you return?
Drew: I left almost immediately after graduating from the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA) in 1994. I was 17. I returned in December 2009. Lea: I left in 1994 at age 18 to go to Marymount Manhattan College in New York City and came back in 2009.
Why did you return?
Drew: We wanted to give our kids the same kind of Midwestern childhoods we had, close to family and friends. Lea: We wanted both of our children to be around their grandparents regularly. But also we missed Skyline Chili and Graeter’s!
Were you excited to return, or hesitant? A little of both?
Drew: Both. We were excited for the idea of a new chapter but hesitant because we’d been away so long, and the industry we work in is very focused on Los Angeles and New York City. Lea: We’d been gone for all of our adult lives, so moving back was a big change, but it turned out to be the best decision we ever made. We are filled with so much love and community here.
How has Cincinnati changed since you first left?
Drew: There were definitely changes while we were gone, and there have been many since we returned, Over-the-Rhine being the biggest change. Lea: I love all of the new restaurants and new places to see in OTR, all of the new murals all over the city, and of course BLINK.
How is it the same as before?
Drew: Cincinnati still has the “big small town/small big town” sensibility to it. People are still more interested in where you went to high school than almost anything else. Lea: My favorite is still the east side vs. west side battle! That will never go away.
What’s your favorite new discovery since returning?
Drew: After we came back we launched Lachey Arts, our performing arts nonprofit, which quickly became our passion. So the new thing I discovered is my love and passion for teaching young artists. Also FC Cincinnati. Lea: I definitely realized my true passion for teaching after returning. I love working with Cincinnati youth.
What keeps you here now?
Drew: How many cities the size of Cincinnati have a thriving arts community; pro baseball, football, and soccer teams; feature films being shot; fantastic restaurants; good schools; affordable cost of living; and goetta? Lea: The life we’ve created for our family. We’re fortunate to live in a place that affords us the benefits of a small town but the opportunities of a big city.