10 questions with Jen Lilley

Jen Lilley is a talented actress known for her starring roles in Hallmark Channel movies and daytime soap operas. She also appeared in “The Artist.” 

Welcome! Before we begin, would you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start in acting?

I’m from Roanoke, Virginia where I had a wonderful childhood, full of playing in the woods, putting on made up plays for my stuffed animals, and reading Laura Ingalls Wilder books all night with a flashlight under my covers. I started acting during my time at the University of Virginia after I went to an open call audition for an independent film and booked the female lead. I discovered on set that I absolutely loved film crews and the entire movie making process. 

What are a few of the challenges and opportunities you face as an actress of faith in the entertainment industry?

I see my faith as an advantage because I don’t need to book a certain role to feel approved or validated. My personal belief is there is nothing we can do to make God love us more or less.

My worth is not wrapped up in my accomplishments. My job is to be kind to everyone, do my very best in every situation, and then have faith that whatever path I’m meant to take will happen and will ultimately be best for me. 

It actually helps me tremendously in auditions because I can walk in without putting so much pressure on myself and just be the character as I interpret her. 

What memorization adjustments did you have to make when navigating the grueling soap opera schedule on “Days of Our Lives” and “General Hospital”?

There is nothing more challenging than soap operas. Nothing.

Your entire life becomes a memorization game. Soap actors/actresses are memorizing an average of 30 pages each night, (my worst was 87 pages in one night of my own dialogue) which we only get one shot at nailing the very next day with one take, sometimes without even a proper camera blocking if you’re in the afternoon and out of time, and despite popular belief, there are no cue cards or teleprompters.

The stakes are always high, your emotions have to be available exactly when you need them and there are no do overs. It’s grueling but exhilarating. I love working in soaps. 

Tell us a little bit about the advocacy work you do and why these particular causes are so near to your heart?

I advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. My main area of focus is children. I am extremely passionate about the foster care crisis in our country, breaking the cycle of child abuse and neglect, ending human trafficking and child pornography, as well as homelessness and the world water crisis. But truly I care about most causes surrounding people in need who cannot get out of whatever circumstance they’re in without help.

I suppose children are so near to my heart because I believe every child deserves his or her innocence and childlike wonder, and it is our job as adults to protect them.

If we don’t, who will? 

Hatred is a learned behavior and so is love. If we don’t appropriately model love to our children, what sort of world will we become?  

How did you first begin working with Hallmark and what factors do you think contribute to your ongoing roles?

Hallmark found me. I’m not entirely sure which job in particular caught their eye, but I was told they followed my career for some time before making an offer. I think the fans as well as the way I live my personal life off screen has contributed to my ongoing roles with my favorite network. 

Jen Lilley is a talented actress best known for her performance in “The Actress” and her several starring roles in Hallmark movies and soap operas. Photo provided by Anderson Group Public Relations.

Introduce “Winter Love Story” and your character of Cassie.

“Winter Love Story” is a charming and adorable romantic comedy about two authors who are paired together on a book tour despite their many differences.

I play Cassie Winslett, a refreshingly relatable young writer, and the daughter of famed author, Jeanine Jordan, played by the incredible Mary Margaret Humes.

Cassie doesn’t want to ride Jeanine’s coat tails, so her publishers tell her she has to do a book tour to bolster her sales and audience.

She’s paired with New York Times best-selling author, Elliot Somersby (played by Kevin McGarry), a man whom Cassie finds incredibly pretentious. But is she judging a book by its cover?

Is this the first time you have collaborated with Kevin McGarry? What do you think is the secret sauce in the chemistry the two of you have on screen?

Yes this is the first time I’ve worked with Kevin, and I’m not sure what attributes to on screen chemistry. It’s either there or it isn’t. 

When new author Cassie is paired with successful author Elliot on a promotional book tour, she finds truth in the old adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” as she falls for the guy she once thought to be pompous and full of himself. Photo: Jen Lilley, Kevin MCGarry Credit: ©2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Shane Mahood

What role does Mary-Margaret Humes play and what is one thing you learned from her?

Mary Margaret plays my mother, author Jeanine Jordan. I’ve known Mary Margaret since shortly after I first moved to LA, but I just learned she makes the world’s best guacamole, so I’ll be stopping by her house this spring to enjoy it 🙂

What is one of the most important themes in “Winter Love Story”?

You can’t judge a book by its cover. 

Why should viewers tune in to “Winter Love Story”?

It’s the perfect winter movie to warm up your Saturday night. There’s charm and witty banter, hot chocolate and snow, cabins and fireside chats, and books and dogs. What more can you ask for in a winter romance?

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