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Jen Lilley Shares How God Brought Her to DAYS OF OUR LIVES Role

Photo from Jen Lilley’s Instagram

Jen Lilley Shares How God Brought Her to DAYS OF OUR LIVES Role

By Movieguide® Contributor

Actress Jen Lilley is sharing how God’s hand has been in her career from the very beginning. 

“I kind of always had an interest in the arts, but I also was not a theater kid,” Lilley told Jesus Calling. “I went to the University of Virginia, and I just started taking classes on things I was interested in. And one semester, I took an acting class for fun, kind of like an elective, and then I started praying about it, and I was like, ‘Lord, I really love film. I really love the camera.’”

She moved to Hollywood after graduation and started auditioning and booking small roles on shows like CRIMINAL MINDS and GENERAL HOSPITAL. Lilley was then offered a role on DAYS OF OUR LIVES but was reluctant to accept. 

“I didn’t want to do it,” Lilley said. “I was like, I don’t like soap operas. And my manager—who thank God is also Christian — called me and he said, ‘You know, to quote you to you’ — because I’m always preaching at him — ‘Have you prayed about it?’”

Lilley prayed and heard the Holy Spirit say, “This is your role.”

“And this is the part that always makes me cry, because it was such a holy moment, and God is so kind,” she continued. “And He said, ‘Because Theresa [her DAYS OF OUR LIVES character] is the exact condition that the world was in when I sent my Son to die for them, and the audience needs to know there is no pit so deep that my love cannot find them still. And there is no time in your life, if you were alive, that you were beyond redemption. And I need a Christian to play this role.’”

Lilley continued, “Because they do this funny thing in soap operas where they hold the camera on you at the end, and any other actress, after the one night stand or after the drugs, is going to play that moment as if she’s truly satisfied and as if she is so cool, but [God said], ‘You’re going to play the truth of how that girl really feels, but it did not fill her, and it did not satisfy her, because what she was truly looking for is Jesus.’”

Movieguide® previously reported on Lilley’s feelings about her DAYS OF OUR LIVES role:

“The truth is Jesus hung out with tax collectors and harlots,” Lilley said. “I’m open to doing roles that are maybe edgier, as long as there’s a redemptive message to them, which is why I played the role of Theresa on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.”

The DAYS OF OUR LIVES spot was initially not one Lilley was interested in, until she said the Lord spoke to her clearly about why that character mattered.

She said the Lord told her, “Somebody has to play that role, and I’d rather it be a Christian because you can play the unspoken moments when the guy leaves the room. You play the emptiness the girls actually feel where they’ve sold themselves short of their value. Those are the exact condition of humanity that I sent my Son to die for. You know, I died for broken people. I didn’t die for perfect people. And she’s not beyond redemption and there’s no pits so deep that my love cannot find someone still.”

Lilley said those words still bring tears to her eyes, and that’s why she doesn’t necessarily pigeonhole herself into traditional wholesome roles, though those are definitely her favorite jobs.

“I do ask myself, ‘Is it the role that you want me to play, God?” Lilley said she asks. “I don’t necessarily only choose wholesome roles, but at the same time, I’m not going to do nudity. I’m not going to sell myself short as a daughter of the King.”

The actress has previously spoken about how her character has taught her about grace and redemption. 

“Playing Jeanne Theresa Donovan off and on for the last 10 years has taught me so much about empathy and grace,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “And to the best fans a girl could ask or hope for: remember there is no pit so deep you could ever find yourself in where God’s love cannot find you still. You are never beyond redemption. You are called by grace and marked with love.”

Today, Lilley is known for her roles in Hallmark and Great American Family movies. 

“It’s so funny because they’re not highbrow movies,” she told UVA Today, “But you’d be surprised that our biggest fans are people like homicide detectives and Supreme Court justices. With everything going on in the world — the uncertainty, the pandemic, the war, all of that — we’re like the mac and cheese of TV. We try to make people feel good.”

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Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.


4000+ Faith Based Articles and Movie Reviews – Will you Support Us?

Our small team works tirelessly to provide resources to protect families from harmful media, reviewing 415 movies/shows and writing 3,626 uplifting articles this year. We believe that the gospel can transform entertainment. That’s why we emphasize positive and faith-filled articles and entertainment news, and release hundreds of Christian movie reviews to the public, for free. No paywalls, just trusted, biblically sound content to bless you and your family. Online, Movieguide is the closest thing to a biblical entertainment expert at your fingertips. As a reader-funded operation, we welcome any and all contributions – so if you can, please give something. It won’t take more than 52 seconds (we timed it for you). Thank you.