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Who Is Great American Family Star Jen Lilley? From Her Start in Soap Operas To Her Sweet Family Life

The former Hallmark star has found a home at Great American Family

Hallmark and Great American Family star Jen Lilley is one of our recent favorites to see circulating TV Christmas movies. She brings her own special something to all of her films that will surely warm your heart, making a name for herself with her compelling performances on both the big and small screens.

Like other notable Hallmark alums, including Ryan Paevey and Trevor Donovan, she got her start in soaps. Lilley's acting career took off when she joined the cast of the daytime soap opera "Days of Our Lives." She portrayed the character Theresa Donovan on the show, earning critical acclaim and a dedicated fan following for her compelling portrayal. Her work on "Days of Our Lives" earned her a Daytime Emmy Award nomination, showcasing her talent in the soap opera genre.

In addition to her work on daytime television, Jen Lilley has also ventured into primetime TV, with appearances in popular series such as "Criminal Minds," "Castle," and "Two and a Half Men."

Aside from acting, Jen Lilley is an accomplished singer with a passion for music. She has released several singles and has shown her dedication to her craft as a recording artist.

Beyond her entertainment career, Jen Lilley is a committed humanitarian. She is an advocate for foster care and adoption, having been personally involved in the foster care system.

Let's dive into these topics and more things you probably didn't know about actress Jen Lilley.

Who is Jen Lilley?

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The Virginia native attended the University of Virginia before she packed her bags for Los Angeles to try to make it in Hollywood. She is the second oldest of four, two brothers Ryan and Michael, and sister Katherine. 

First, Lilley landed the gig of temporarily replacing Kirsten Storms as Maxie Jones on "General Hospital" from 2011-2012. The following year, she booked the role of Theresa Donovan on "Days of Our Lives" which she played for three years. Though she did return to the show for a brief stint as Theresa in 2018. Following her exit from the soap world, Lilley has primarily appeared in Hallmark and Great American Family films.

Lillet is also a talented singer. In 2015, Lilley released her debut album, a Christmas album, titled Tinsel Time. She also released the single "King of Hearts" in 2018, which was included on her album Hindsight.

You can get a more personal look at Lilley's life on her YouTube channel. The actress has shared everything on her channel from the birth of her daughter to behind-the-scenes videos from her Hallmark films.

Hallmark and Great American Family

Great American Family

Lilley became a regular on the Hallmark channel in 2017. She appeared in a ton of movies for the network, including "A Dash of Love," "Eat, Play, Love," "Harvest Love," "Mingle All The Way," "Winter Love Story," "Angel Falls: A Novel Holiday," and "Paris, Wine & Love." She's also appeared in Lifetime Christmas movies like "The Spirit of Christmas." Her latest work includes "Snowkissed" and "A Little Daytime Drama."

In a decision that had fans divided, Lilley moved over to the Great American Family network, signing on for four original movies. She made her GAC Family debut with 2021's "Royally Wrapped for Christmas." She will star alongside Matthew Morrison in the next entry in The Christmas Waltz Universe: "A Paris Christmas Waltz," due out on November 19. Like Lilley, The Christmas Waltz films also jumped ship from Hallmark. The original "The Christmas Waltz," starring Lacey Chabert, aired on the Hallmark Channel and became the highest-rated Christmas rom-com of 2020.

Marriage and Family Life

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The actress has been with her husband, Jason Wayne, since 2007. She told Parade that despite having some hunky co-stars on Hallmark, her husband doesn't get jealous and doesn't need to.

"No, my husband Jason is the sweetest, kindest, most secure man I know. Jason knows he's had my heart for over 14 years, and it's his forever."

Lilley is a passionate advocate for foster care and has been very open on social media with her fostering journey. She and her husband adopted son Kayden after two years of fostering which was an incredibly special moment for the family. They even threw him a party with a puzzle theme — "we found our missing piece." So cute!

"During the hearing, when the judge said Kayden was declared to be our legal 'child, and is further said to be a member of the Wayne family with all the rights and responsibilities attached thereto,' I almost lost it," Lilley told People. "All I could manage was a little half giggle/half sob, saying, 'Thank you.' "

The couple also welcomed a biological child, daughter Julie Evangeline last year, and recently finalized adoption for their second foster son, Jeffrey, after over 800 days in foster care. Not only that, but the actress recently announced the couple was expecting another child next year, 2022, expanding their family to 6! 

The couple is now on a mission to help change the foster care system so children can reunite with their birth families."A lot of lives in foster care would be saved if it came down to common sense, but it doesn't always come down to common sense," Lilley stated on Good Morning America She continued,  "You end up having reentry into foster care, unsuccessful reunification and a lot of times death because sometimes they're just looking at the law and they're not really looking at what's in the best interest of the child." Last year the actress went to Washington DC to lobby lawmakers to adopt the California reunification model in their very own states. The decision will be made at more local levels.

READ MORE: A Very Bure Christmas: Candace Cameron Bure's 10 Best Christmas Movies