Jena stars in the film cult-flick favorite Sharknado 5: Global Swarming, premiering on SYFY.
She’s also been earning quite the buzz as she’s also the girlfriend of this year’s U.S. Open Champion, Brooks Koepka.
Jena, who is no stranger to the sci-fi world (she starred in the hit Roger Corman remake Attack of the 5-foot Cheerleader), will star as NATO Delegate Lee in the fifth installment of the iconic franchise. Most recently, Jena stared alongside an all-star cast that included Jeremy Renner, Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the crime drama Kill the Messenger.
This beauty also loves to spend her time giving back to the community. Jena’s experience as Miss Georgia Teen USA inspired her to become the founder and president of HBBQs (Has Been Beauty Queens), Inc., a nonprofit organization that works to celebrate children currently facing serious illnesses and challenges. The HBBQ team travels to cities around the world to organize a noncompetitive event called Pageant of Hope, which aims to raise the self-esteem of children facing cancer and other serious illnesses. Jena’s mission for the organization is to give each child the opportunity to be a prince or princess for the day—a moment to be celebrated for who they are and to take their minds off of endless hospital visits and treatments.
Here’s what this sweetie tells Chilled about her upcoming flick, her Pageant of Hope, and her love of sunsets, and wine.
Tell us a bit about the projects you are working on.
I am currently promoting Sharknado 5. I have always enjoyed working with Asylum and seeing the innovative ways they get buzz going for their films. My next film will be in New York and its called The Price For Silence. This is a dark, twisted drama—unlike most of my projects. I am excited to expand my work and dig a little deeper with this.
With your busy schedule, what do you like to do with your downtime?
For the last two years, I have been working with friends and family on building a home in Exuma, Bahamas! It’s almost ready! I’ve been down to check up on it several times this year, and most recently was down working with the decorator helping put some finishing touches on it! Check us out on Instagram. My favorite beer in the Caribbean is Kalik. Everything just tastes better at sea level.
My passion, however, is the event my nonprofit organization holds called the Pageant of Hope. We put on pageants for children facing challenges all over the world, where every participant leaves a winner. The main goal is to make each and every child or teen feel beautiful on the inside by giving them makeovers and presenting them with individual titles at the end of the day. We were just in Guatemala working with 50 special needs children from various villages near Panajachel. Our website is PageantOfHope.org.
When you go out to eat, where do you like to dine?
Lately, I have been into tiki-themed places. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Jupiter, Florida, and there are a few tropical places I bounce around to. U-Tiki and Square Grouper are my favorites. I love sitting outside with some fried crab cakes or fish dip watching the boats go by down the intercoastal.
What types of dishes do you usually order?
I am currently obsessed with trying different types of crab cakes. Every restaurant I’ve been to lately has its own twist to it! Last week, I had a crab cake with bacon in it! WHAT! Generally, I am pretty picky when it comes to food, although I say I’ll ty anything twice. I also rarely have a meal without ordering something with melted chocolate on it for dessert. S’mores are also on my go-to radar.
Do you cook?
I dabble. Being from the South, I grew up on fried foods and biscuits. When I cook, I try to make it as healthy as possible. Competing in pageants definitely taught me to just suffer through some basic, bland chicken! I have since learned ways to put a kick in grilling chicken, such as wrapping some turkey bacon around it. Teriyaki salmon is my signature dish, but I also make some mean chorizo breakfast tacos.
What types of drinks do you order when out?
I am a two-ingredient gal. My go-to is vodka soda. If I’m feeling crazy, I’ll get mezcal and pineapple—the smokier and spicier, the better! Anything beyond two ingredients is asking for a hangover! If I am sitting down to a nice meal, I will order red wine, if the sun has gone down. Prior to that, it’s beer or a dry white. I am location- and time-specific with my drinks. Did I mention I was picky?
Do you prepare drinks at home?
I know the basics. Thankfully, I have some very talented bartenders in my friend group. My friend Kate has four or five different fruit trees in her back yard and is always serving up something fresh she has concocted.
Do you own a home bar?
Yes, and a nice wine collection! At home, I would rather enjoy some wine and the sunset versus mixing drinks.
What kind of liquor is it stocked with?
Tito’s, Jack Daniel’s, Fireball, some sort of rum (not sure why), Crown, and plenty of beer. Just the essentials!
What is your favorite drink/cocktail?
Tito’s and soda. I wish I was kidding! One time at El Coyote in L.A., I ordered the spicy flaming Margarita that gets set on fire before you drink it … and that was about as far outside of my comfort zone as I got.
Have you ever been a bartender?
I have worked a few events that required me to learn a handful of drinks to serve, one being for Patrón racing. Outside of that, I don’t have formal bartending training. If you ask me for a drink, it will likely be served out of a red Solo cup.