One of the best parts about the Hallmark Channel is it seems like there's always room for new faces. One of our favorites over the past few years has been Jill Wagner. Odds are if you see she's starring in a film, you know it's going to be a good one. She's appeared in everything from the beloved network's Christmas movies to her own mystery series and is even involved behind the scenes as a producer. You might assume that someone so comfortable in front of the camera always had dreams of being a Hollywood star but that was definitely not the case for Wagner.
The actress told Moments with Mercy that initially, she thought she was going to go into the family business in her hometown of Winston-Salem.
"I am a southern girl from North Carolina. I was raised by a strong family that helped me to cling to my roots and stay true to who I am. My father owned a tire shop when I was growing up and that is what I thought I was going to get into after I graduated high school."
After graduating from North Carolina State University, Wagner took a trip out to Los Angeles and never left. "I went on an audition for a show called Punk'd with Ashton Kutcher and that was it, she explained. "I booked it and never looked back."
The MTV reality series led to roles on Monk and Quintuplets before landing her first lead role on Blade: The Series as Krista Starr. She then booked the gig as the co-host of the ABC game show Wipeout from 2008-2014. Though she had a recurring role playing Kate Argent on Teen Wolf, Wagner is best known for being a regular actress on Hallmark since 2015.
Wagner told My Devotional Thoughts that she was inspired to book her first role on the Hallmark Channel, in Autumn Dreams, because her grandmother loved the network so much.
"I knew that my grandmother loved the network and asked me to do a movie for them, which is why I decided I wanted to give one a try. Hallmark represents all that she loved in movies and I continue to make them with that in mind."
Ever since Wagner has appeared in a slew of Hallmark films -- Christmas in the Smokies, Christmas Cookies, A Harvest Wedding, Karen Kingsbury's Maggie's Christmas Miracle, Pearl In Paradise, Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa, Hearts of Winter, and Christmas Wishes & Mistletoe Kisses. She also stars opposite Kristoffer Polaha in the Mystery 101 series of films on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
Outside of her Hallmark career, Wagner has been happily married to former hockey player David Lemanowicz since 2017. After retiring from being a professional goalie, Wagner's hubby is now a major in the U.S. Army. The couple decided to leave their home in California and purchased a farm in Tennessee that keeps them busy when Wagner isn't filming up in Canada. They have cows, chickens, work the land, the whole nine yards. It was apparently Wagner's dream to live a low-key life on her very own farm and now she's doing exactly that.
In addition to taking on a step-daughter from Lemanowicz's previous relationship, the couple welcomed a child in 2020 together, Army Gray. Wagner told the PC Principle that another reason she's so proud of working with Hallmark is that her step-daughter (and eventually her youngest when she's older) is able to watch all of her movies.
"She's always asking to see stuff that I've done and most of my work I can't let her watch, but she can watch these Hallmark films and that makes me feel good that I can film something and she can watch it which is really nice. I thank my grandmother every day because she turned my career in a certain direction and I love it because it's not something I'm ashamed of. I'm very proud of the films Hallmark creates. I think that they are decent and they have a good message and I think that maybe the world needs a little bit more of those right now."
The 42-year-old actress recently revealed to People that she found out that she was expecting a second child with her husband.
"I found out two days before Christmas," the Hallmark star said. "I took a test by myself and when it was positive I just dropped to my knees and did this strange laugh-cry. I waited to tell David and Lija until Christmas Eve at our dinner. They both thought I was pulling a prank on them -- I guess I need to stop acting like every day is April Fools!"
Wagner is incredibly grateful and excited for her step-daughter Lija to get another chance at being a big sister...something she's apparently already excelling at with her daughter Army.
"Lija does it all. She has changed diapers, gives bottles, sings to her. She is the best. And Army really likes being around other children and she has a little friend named Stella Rose that is close to her age. I think when this new little one comes along it will be great for her."