Interview: Jen Lilley Talks Hallmark, New Music, and Being a Foster Care Advocate – Exclusive
Jen Lilley may be most recognized as a star of the Hallmark channel but she is so much more than that. In addition to being a famed and successful actress, Jen is a multi-talented musician, podcast star, and a foster care advocate.
With National Foster Care Month just around the corner, we spoke with Jen Lilley about her partnership with the Project Orphans foundation and why this is a cause that is so close to her heart. We also chat about her upcoming album, what fans can expect from her music, and an upcoming opportunity for fans with the #VoicesThatGive contest.
Read on for our exclusive interview with Jen Lilley below!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!
Thank YOU for interviewing me and letting me shine a light on foster care! You’re making a profound impact!
May marks the beginning of National Foster Care Month. Can you talk a little about your partnership with the Project Orphans Foundation and what you are hoping to accomplish together?
I love Project Orphans and all that they’re doing so much, I could go on for hours, but we don’t have that kind of time. So in a nutshell, Project Orphans exists to provide care to orphans, vulnerable children, powerless young women, and broken families. Project Orphans takes a long-term approach and goes beyond simple involvement in the lives of the children and people they serve!
While they primarily operate out of Uganda, Africa, the founders and I have a dream to create a version of Project Orphans here in the United States. Project Orphans USA will serve orphans and foster care children that are displaced within our nation. From providing shelter to restoration — we desire to see children’s hearts restored. Through community, we will provide children with supportive families which will provide stability, safety and security. I’m hoping to raise funds to start building Project Orphans USA through my music, by donating 100% of my profit from my #VoicesThatGive album launch competition to the cause.
This is obviously a cause that is close to your heart. Can you share why it was important for you to get involved and raise awareness?
There’s so many misconceptions about children in foster care. First, children in foster care are not juvenile delinquents, they’re children, youth, or infants who ended up in a broken system through no fault of their own, but because of abuse or neglect, and they deserve all the love, stability, and support we can give them.
Raising awareness is crucial because if we don’t intervene, the statistics are bleak. I can’t say it better than Josh Weigal states in Let Us Rise, “When a child enters the foster care system, everyone suffers. Of the 2 million incarcerated, over 75% spent time in foster care. Of the 500,000 homeless in America, 50% spent time in the foster system. Of the victims recovered from sex trafficking raids in America, over 60% came from the foster care system. The foster system is ground zero”.
In addition to the work you are already doing, you just launched a weekly podcast called Fostering Hope. How has that experience been for you? What inspired you to branch out and share the journey of others in this format?
It’s been incredible! I think I’ve cried every episode and smiled so wide my cheeks hurt. I created Fostering Hope to give other foster parents a sense of community in what’s an otherwise lonely road, to inform, inspire, and recruit new foster parents, and to celebrate charities, social workers, and advocates for the incredible work they’re doing.
Can you talk a little about the #VoicesThatGive contest and the opportunities available to those thinking of entering?
First of all, it’s free to enter, and open to everyone. I truly believe everyone was created on purpose and for a purpose and gifted with incredible and unique talents. Everyone has something to bring to the party, and 100% of my profits will go toward building Project Orphans USA. The Grand Prize is $10,000 USD, national press coverage, and more! Whoever earns the most public votes wins.
Each of their fans, friends, family, etc. can vote once for them for free, but then if those supporters want to help boost their entry, they can purchase voting bundles. If they purchase 10 votes for $10, that supporter will receive my debut album, Lilley. If they purchase 25 votes, they’ll receive an exclusive autographed copy of my album, if they donate $100 or more, they’ll receive my autographed album and a tee shirt, and again, 100% of my profits goes to charity, so it’s a real win win for everyone!
Your talents also extend to the world of music and I hear you are working on an album. What can listeners expect from your music? Where do you draw your inspiration from musically?
My album is original songs with classic 60s vibes. It’s uplifting, feel good, and empowering music that transports the listener down memory lane. Musically, I’m most inspired by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, The Supremes, The Temptations, Dusty Springfield, and The Ronettes.
Readers will also recognize you from your work as an actress. What initially inspired you to pursue acting as a career?
I fell in love with the art of storytelling and filmmaking in college and never looked back.
Many of your projects are some of our Hallmark favorites. How has it been to be a part of the Hallmark family? Can we look forward to more projects from you and the channel?
I absolutely adore working for Hallmark Channel. They really are who they say they are. They treat the actors, their directors, their producers, and crew with utmost class and respect, and they deliver outstanding, heartfelt, and uplifting content. I can’t wait til the lockdown is lifted and I can get back to work on Hallmark.
So many of us are stuck at home in quarantine right now due to the Covid-19 pandemic. How have you been passing the time?
I wear a lot of hats, so I’m still as busy as ever, plugging away at my endless to do list. In addition to juggling four kids, I’m recording my podcast, designing merch for my album launch, working out the final details of how the contest will look and run, and I’m in the process of flipping a house. So I’m staying pretty busy.
Thank you so much to Jen Lilley for taking the time to answer some questions for us!
Be sure to take a listen to her podcast Fostering Hope with Jen Lilley and check out JenLilleyMusic.com for more information on the #VoicesThatGive contest.
For more information on Project Orphans, please visit their official website.