Christian Actress Jen Lilley Shares How God Leads Her to Roles
By Jessilyn Lancaster, Managing Editor
Actress Jen Lilley, a devout Christian and co-host of the 2020 Movieguide® Awards, says each role she plays has something in common: She’s prayed and sought the Lord’s will for what project to take on.
“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.”
Lilley may be most recognizable for her roles in a smattering of Hallmark movies, including ANGEL FALLS: A NOVEL HOLIDAY, LOVE UNLEASHED and PARIS, WINE AND ROMANCE, among others.
“I love Hallmark through and through,” Lilley said. “I love everything about their brands. I grew up watching Hallmark Channel and going to their stores and all of the goodness that is Hallmark. I think what drew me to it is their values. They are storylines that are comfortable. They’re safe to watch with your children. They’re safe to watch with your family.
“One thing I love as an actress so much about Hallmark Channel–and their audience wants this, as well–is we all want stories that we know how they’re going to end,” Lilley said. “We know that [Hallmark storylines are] going to be uplifting because there’s so much chaos and tension in our world that it’s just so nice to be able to sit down and have something be heartwarming and uplifting. I love that about their brands, and I also love that behind closed doors. They are who they say they are, which is a family. They do treat all of their actors and crew with utmost respect. So I always have a lot of respect for for people or brands or companies. They are who they say they are.”
In addition to her love of Hallmark, Lilley also supports Movieguide®. Lilley will co-host the 2020 Movieguide® Awards on Jan. 24 with fellow Hallmark star Andrew Walker. The event will be broadcast on Hallmark at a later date.
“I love everything about Movieguide®,” Lilley said. “I love that (Dr.) Ted (Baehr) is proving to the media and content producers in general that the wholesome Christian audience is where the market is. You need to respond to the market and you need to respond to the demand as business owners, and I think he’s doing it from the right perspective. He’s changing the culture by taking a stand and proving that people do want uplifting, wholesome content.”
Lilley continued, “I’m beyond ecstatic to be hosting. I really think it’s such a big deal. It’s not lost on me that it’s such an honor. I feel incredibly spoiled to be hosting. I don’t take it lightly. I’m just incredibly humbled to have been asked and we’re gonna have so much fun. I’m incredibly overwhelmed at how honored I feel.”
Watch Lilley on the Hallmark Channel and stay tuned for the 2020 Movieguide® Awards broadcast.