Jen Lilley (Theresa, Days of Our Lives) gives us the details on her global talent contest, her personal journey with foster care, soaps, and much more! Read it here ---->>>
Jen Lilley has a plethora of titles attached to her name. Actress, singer, advocate, wife, and mother. And now she is using her platform and her own personal experience with the foster care system to raise awareness with an exciting and hope-filled global talent contest, Voices That Give. We had a wonderful time chatting with the Days of Our Lives alum about her advocacy, adoption journey, contest, and if she would ever return to soaps!
Jen’s journey to becoming a foster parent started at an early age. When she was growing up her family could often be found taking families in need into their home. Describing her parents as “unofficial foster parents,” she spoke about how the experience instilled a great deal of empathy and understanding in her. “The idea of someone outside of your family unit living with you wasn’t a scary idea,” she acknowledged. “People go through hard things in life and they need help and that should be our joy to partner alongside them.”
That sense of compassion carried with her throughout her life leading her to become a child advocate in 2011. Through her work as a Celebrity Ambassador for Childhelp, one of the longest-running nonprofits for child abuse and neglect prevention, she learned about the real and often unmentioned issue of child abuse. Serving as a mentor in the Special Friends she became close to a young girl who was facing reunification. While reuniting children with their families is the main goal of foster care it is not always the best option. Jen and her husband quickly became licensed foster parents in the hope of providing her with a safe space. And while they did not end up becoming her foster family they were introduced to the child that is now their own. They fostered Kayden from four-months of age and made his adoption official back in June of 2019. “His case was supposed to be a temporary one and here we are. We’ve adopted him and we’re delighted. It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to us,” Lilley expressed. They are also in the process of adopting Kayden’s half-brother, who is two-years-old as well as raising their daughter Julie, who was born in July.
Throughout her nine years of advocacy and research, she has learned that the most important thing a foster parent can have on their side is support. “You need community because the rate of foster care burn out is unbelievable. Nobody really understands foster care until they’re in it. It’s a very complicated, weird, emotional thing,” Jen explained. Even living in Los Angeles, where an astounding 10% of the country's children are in foster care, she found it difficult to find other foster parents to lean on. Jen was eventually able to find her own sense of community thanks to the help of the hashtag #FosterLove on social media. “I found a bunch of Instagram mammas who are just like me, who care deeply for these children and are doing the fight hard. You cannot do foster care without support. I don’t think you can do parenting much without it. But foster care? Heck no.”
In the hopes of raising awareness for Project Orphans USA, Jen has partnered with Orbiiit to open a global talent contest. #VoicesThatGive provides an amazing opportunity to people around the world to showcase their talents and be recognized on an expansive level all while providing positivity and raising money. People can enter into five different categories: Actors, Dancers, Musicians, Unique/Hidden Talent, and Hallmark Fans. Yes, even the loving fans of Hallmark can enter just by submitting a YouTube video talking about your love of the network and what winning would mean to you. To enter the contest visit https://orbiiit.com/contest/voicesthatgive and submit your videos by May 31st.
Once entered every applicant will have the opportunity to have their supporters vote for them. Everyone receives a free vote. From there you can purchase as many votes as you want for $1. Each category will have a winner, who will receive a cash prize of $500 and other cool prizes. There will also be a grand prize winner who gets $10,000 and national press! And the best part is that the prize money has been donated by Orbiiit. “A hundred percent of my profit is going towards building a neighborhood in the United States in order to give children in foster care safe, stable, and loving foster homes.”
And as a special gift for those who spend at least $10 on votes, you will receive her new album! The record, which Jen describes as a “classic, 60s Motown, feel-good vibe,” will also be available to purchase on her website with all profits going to charity as well.
Jen hopes that #VoicesThatGive can offer hope to the world while giving everyone the opportunity to showcase their talents. “It’s a way to promote artistry and give people hope. It’s a free opportunity for you to lend your talent to help these children in an amazing way.” And while her ultimate goal is to be able to build this incredible neighborhood she knows that bringing awareness to any charity is one of the most important things. “Even if we didn’t raise any money we can reach others who care and want to be involved.” Voting for #VoicesThatGive will begin on June 1st and run through July 10th. Be sure to check it out and enter! What do you have to lose?!
While Jen has been busy with the contest and being a working mom she has also found time to create the concept for a brand new Hallmark movie! The project, titled A Paris Proposal, was just greenlit by the network and will see Lilley produce and star in as well. And we, of course, had to ask about a return to Days of Our Lives. “Abso-freakin-lutely! I would love to return! It’s never out of the question,” she told us. “Days of Our Lives is home for me. I just love that cast and crew. I love Theresa. She is my favorite character I’ve ever played.”
It’s official! Jen Lilley is Superwoman. She can do it all. We cannot wait to see the amazing talent in #VoicesThatGive and what is next for her career. Thank you for an incredible and enlightening interview.