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Theresa Donovan

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Theresa Donovan
Days of Our Lives character
Portrayed by
  • Hannah Taylor Simmons (1990–1991)
  • Emily and Alicia Pillatzke (1991–1992)
  • Caitlin Wachs (1992)
  • Gabriella Massari (1992)
  • Uncredited (1996–1997)
  • Jen Lilley (2013–2023)
  • Emily O'Brien (2023–present)
  • 1990–1992
  • 1996–1997
  • 2013–2016
  • 2018
  • 2023–present
First appearanceSeptember 3, 1990 (1990-09-03)
ClassificationPresent; regular
Created byRichard J. Allen and Anne Schoettle
Introduced by

Jen Lilley as Theresa Donovan
In-universe information
Other namesJeannie Caroline Donovan
Jeannie Theresa Donovan
Abigail Deveraux
  • Undercover operative (2016–2018)
  • Businesswoman (2015–2016)
  • Fashion designer (2015–2016)
  • Personal assistant (2013–2015)
BrothersAndrew Donovan
Half-sistersEve Donovan
SpouseBrady Black (2014)
ChildrenTate Black
AuntsKayla Brady
NiecesPaige Larson
First cousins

Theresa Donovan (introduced as Jeannie Donovan) is a fictional character from Days of Our Lives, an American soap opera on the NBC network. Introduced in September 1990, she was portrayed by several child actors until the character left the series in 1992, with further guest appearances in both 1996 and 1997. The character was reintroduced to the series in July 2013, under the portrayal of actress Jen Lilley, best known for her portrayal of Maxie Jones on General Hospital, and departed in November 2016. Lilley reprised the role in May 2018 for a three-month stint, departing again in July. Lilley briefly returned to the role in September 2023, with Emily O'Brien assuming the role in the following month.

Theresa is the daughter of supercouple Shane Donovan and Kimberly Brady (Charles Shaughnessy and, most prominently, Patsy Pease). With the casting of Lilley in the role, the character entered her first major story line, opposite Casey Moss who portrays JJ Deveraux.


Lilley's temporary portrayal of Maxie Jones on General Hospital caught the eye of executive producer Ken Corday and other executives at Days of Our Lives, which led to her audition for Theresa.

In April 2013, it was announced by Soap Opera Digest and several other sources that Jen Lilley joined the cast of Days of Our Lives in a newly created role with ties to the canvas.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] Due to the show's advanced filming schedule, Lilley began filming in the (then-unknown) role in March 2013.[1] Lilley made her on-screen debut as Theresa on July 3, 2013.[10][11][12]

In May 2016, Daytime Confidential reported that Lilley had quit the soap after three years.[13][14] Lilley made her final appearance on November 18, 2016.[15] On November 17, 2017, it was announced that Lilley would reprise the role of Theresa;[16] she returned on May 3, 2018.[17][18][19] Lilley once again exited the role on July 19, 2018.[20]

On August 14, 2023, it was announced Lilley would return to the role in honor of the character of Victor Kiriakis following the passing of John Aniston earlier that year, Lilley returned on September 1, 2023.[21][22] Weeks later, it was announced Lilley's return would be brief and the role would be recast; Lilley last appeared on September 22.[23][24][25]

On October 2, 2023, it was announced Emily O'Brien, who joined the cast in 2020 as Gwen Rizczech, would assume the role of Theresa;[26] she first appeared in the final moments of the October 6 episode.

Character development[edit]

With the casting of Lilley, executive producer Ken Corday admits that seeing the actress' work on General Hospital helped with the casting of the actress in the role of Theresa.[27] Upon Theresa's re-appearance on the canvas, she was characterized as the "bad girl". In an interview with MSN Entertainment on her role, Lilley spoke: "Part of me doesn't want to make excuses for her, because you can have horrible upbringing and make something positive of it. Some of the most amazing, well-grounded people have come from the wrong side of the tracks. Obviously, the Brady-Donovan family is a great family, but her dad Shane is a spy and I watched the episode where he leaves the kids with Kimberly. Theresa was probably one, at most, so she didn't have a dad growing up, which is a formula for trouble. Typical psychological path for a girl like that is to look for love in the wrong places and look for a father figure in older guys."[28] The role of Theresa has been described as "sarcastic, calculating, mischievous" and "mysterious".[29] Lilley also called her "such a badass".[30]

"Ugh, it's such a blessing. I feel like I'm finally part of something. On General Hospital, I had two bleeding ulcers because I was so stressed out. I never knew what was going to happen, day in and day out. I can finally relax a bit."[28]

Lilley on creating a role of her own from the start, compared to her temporary casting as Maxie Jones on General Hospital (2013)

For her casting, Lilley stated she originally went in for two roles, those of both Theresa and Jordan Ridgeway. At the time, she was hoping to book the "good girl" role; however for her second audition, was asked to amp it up to a more bad girl persona and concentrate on Theresa. She revealed: "I got to skip the first audition, which is called a pre-read and is an audition to audition. So then I auditioned with everyone else, and I got to do my screen test twice, which is very unusual. I was the only girl who got to do that, so I went first and last. The reason they had me do it twice is that I wore my hair curly, and I have a really young face, and they said that I looked too sweet and innocent and young with the curly hair. So they straightened my hair and had me do it again. On the second take, I knew that I had nothing to lose. I had already done a perfect first take, and they told me it wasn't going to get better than that so I could do whatever I wanted. I just did everything out of the box, and that's what got me the job. I mean I took the guy's shirt off in the scene! I told the actor that this is a character with no concept of personal space, so I asked him if it's ok if I touch him. He said that was fine and it was my screen test. So I took his shirt off and I threw some props at him at the end. I broke all the rules, and I think [the casting staff] thought, that is that character."[31]


Jeannie Theresa Donovan is introduced in September 1990, to Kimberly Brady (Patsy Pease), and was originally believed to be the daughter of Cal Winter.[a][32] However, paternity tests and a confession from Cal proved her father to be Shane Donovan (Charles Shaughnessy). She grew up with her parents in Salem, before relocating to Los Angeles.[33][34]

In July 2013, Jeannie returns to Salem, this time going by her middle name, Theresa. Initially, she strikes up a connection with resident bad boy JJ Deveraux (Casey Moss) while trying to secure some pot.[35] During a confrontation with JJ and his mother Jennifer Horton (Melissa Reeves) in her office, her aunt Kayla confirms that Theresa is in fact Jeannie and that Jen promised to hire her as her assistant, a promise she reluctantly agrees to. Kayla reminds Theresa it is her last chance at a fresh start.[36] Theresa also strikes up a bad first impression with Jennifer's daughter Abigail Deveraux (Kate Mansi) when Abigail smells pot on Theresa in her mother's office.[37] To continue to battle against Jennifer, she teams up with Anne Milbauer (Meredith Scott Lynn) in hopes of exacting her perfect revenge. In a ploy, Theresa reveals her intentions to hopefully woo Dr. Daniel Jonas (Shawn Christian). After sleeping with JJ, Theresa overdoses on marijuana and GHB. Upon hearing of their daughter's overdose and continuing problems, Shane and Kimberly return to town in the hopes of handling their daughter's problem, together. After believing that Theresa has a handle on her addictions, Shane and Kimberly leave town together. Theresa then teams up with hospital co-worker Anne Milbauer (Meredith Scott Lynn) to conspire against Jennifer, using Daniel as a way to hurt their relationship. In early 2014, following a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting, she begins a sexual and drugged-fused relationship with Brady Black (Eric Martsolf). In 2015, after it is found that Kristen DiMera (Eileen Davidson) stole Theresa's embryo and carried it to term, Brady and Melanie Jonas return her son, Christopher, to her and Brady, and the pair rename him Tate. When Theresa moves into the Kiriakis mansion, tensions arise between her and Victor. She eventually expresses her interest in purchasing Basic Black and running it as her own fashion company, with financial backing from Maggie Horton (Suzanne Rogers). In the hopes of finding the right partner, she teams up with Kate Roberts (Lauren Koslow) and Nicole Walker (Arianne Zucker) to achieve the goal of purchasing Basic Black, with Kate and Nicole's business background and her own interest in fashion design. As she and Brady share several instances of rekindling their romance, she is kicked out of the mansion by Victor; as a result, Brady quits Titan and moves in with Theresa and Tate, in their own penthouse.


Upon the news of Lilley joining the cast, Michael Fairman of On-Air On-Soaps credited her casting as, "fantastic news for [Jen Lilley] fans".[6] Despite rumors of Lilley joining the cast as a recast for either Belle Black or Cassie Brady, it was informed she would portray a new character.[7] Janet DiLauro of About.com praised Theresa as a "riveting character", writing: "Days of our Lives has been seriously lacking in the bad girl department [...] Enter the deliciously naughty Theresa Donovan and suddenly it seems like Salem will never be the same."[29]

References and notes[edit]


  1. ^ a b SOD (April 6, 2013). "EXCLUSIVE! Jen Lilley joins DAYS". Soap Opera Digest. Soapoperadigest.com. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  2. ^ Kroll, Dan J. (April 6, 2013). "Jen Lilley joins DAYS cast". Soap Central. Soapcentral.com. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  3. ^ Simms, Richard M. (April 9, 2013). "Jen Lilley Has Moved To Salem!". Soaps in Depth. ABC.soapsindepth.com. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  4. ^ Clifford, Kimbra (April 9, 2013). "Jen Lilley Headed to 'DAYS'". Soap Opera Network. Soapoperanetwork.com. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  5. ^ Bowe, Jillian (April 9, 2013). "Jen Lilley Heads to Days of Our Lives!". Daytime Confidential. Daytimeconfidential.zap2it.com. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  6. ^ a b Fairman, Michael (April 9, 2013). "Jen Lilley Joins The Cast of Days Of Our Lives! But … Who Is She Playing?". On Air On Soaps. Michaelfairmansoaps.com. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  7. ^ a b White-Nobles, Omar (April 9, 2013). "Jen Lilley Cast on 'Days of our Lives'". TV Source Magazine. TVsourcemagazine.com. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  8. ^ Newcomb, Roger (April 9, 2013). "Jen Lilley Joins DAYS OF OUR LIVES". We Love Soaps. Welovesoaps.net. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  9. ^ Purvis, Matt (April 9, 2013). "Days Of Our Lives Casts Jen Lilley". Soaps She Knows. Soaps.com. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  10. ^ "Comings and Goings". Soap Opera Digest (July 9, 2013). 2013.
  11. ^ Brar, Jeevan (July 1, 2013). "Soap News: Kelly Sullivan exits GH while Lisa LoCicero is sticking around – Plus: Jen Lilley debuts on DAYS". MSN Entertainment Canada. Blogs.TV.MSN.ca. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  12. ^ Sloane, Stephanie (July 9, 2013). "Jen Lilley Debuts on DAYS". Soap Opera Digest (via Zinio). Soapoperadigest.com. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  13. ^ Giddens, Jamey (May 28, 2016). "Jen Lilley Quits Days of Our Lives". Daytime Confidential. United States: Confidential Media, Inc. (SAY Media). Archived from the original on May 31, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  14. ^ SOD (June 6, 2016). "IT'S OFFICIAL – JEN LILLEY LEAVING DAYS". Soap Opera Digest. United States. American Media, Inc. Retrieved June 6, 2016.
  15. ^ Cushman, Dustin (November 4, 2016). "Jen Lilley leaving Days of our Lives". Soaps.com. United States: SheKnows Media. Retrieved November 10, 2016.
  16. ^ SOD (November 17, 2017). "Exclusive! Jen Lilley Back To DAYS!". Soap Opera Digest. United States: American Media, Inc. Odyssey Magazine Publishing Group Inc. Archived from the original on November 17, 2017. Retrieved November 17, 2017.
  17. ^ Soaps SheKnows (April 25, 2018). "Jen Lilley Back to Days of Our Lives as Theresa in May". Soaps.com. United States: SheKnows Media. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  18. ^ "Weekly Preview (4/30/18)". NBC. United States: NBCUniversal Media. April 27, 2018. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  19. ^ "Who's Coming". Comings and Goings. Soap Opera Digest. 43 (19). American Media, Inc.: 12–13. May 7, 2018.
  20. ^ Soaps SheKnows (July 12, 2018). "Jen Lilley Back to Days of Our Lives as Theresa in May". Soaps.com. United States: SheKnows Media. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  21. ^ SOD (August 14, 2023). "Exclusive! Jen Lilley Back to DAYS!". Soap Opera Digest. United States: A360media. ISSN 0164-3584. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  22. ^ Lewis, Errol (August 14, 2023). "Jen Lilley and Zach Tinker Back to 'Days of our Lives'". Soap Opera Network. United States. Retrieved August 15, 2023.
  23. ^ Fairman, Michael (August 28, 2023). "Jen Lilley Reveals Shortened DAYS Return and Recast: "The Girl Coming Back as Theresa is a Brunette"". Michael Fairman TV. United States: The Michael Fairman Company. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  24. ^ Fairman, Michael (September 6, 2023). "DAYS Jen Lilley on Upcoming Theresa Replacement: "Be Kind to Her. She's a Stellar Performer and Being a Recast is Super Hard."". Michael Fairman TV. United States: The Michael Fairman Company. Retrieved September 8, 2023.
  25. ^ Burtt, Kristyn (August 28, 2023). "Exclusive: Jen Lilley's Return to Days of Our Lives as Theresa Takes a Jaw-Dropping Twist". Soaps.com. United States: SHE Media. Archived from the original on August 28, 2023. Retrieved August 28, 2023.
  26. ^ Fairman, Michael (October 3, 2023). "Emily O' Brien Confirmed as Theresa Donovan Replacement on Days of our Lives". Michael Fairman TV. United States. Archived from the original on October 3, 2023. Retrieved October 2, 2023.
  27. ^ Fairman, Michael (July 2, 2013). "The Ken Corday Interview – Days of our Lives". On Air On Soaps. Michaelfairmansoaps.com. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  28. ^ a b Barnert, Deanna (July 26, 2013). "Q&A: Jen Lilley of 'Days of Our Lives' gets feisty". MSN Entertainment. Social.entertainment.msn.com. Archived from the original on August 23, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  29. ^ a b Di Lauro, Janet. "Theresa Donovan Quick Profile". About. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
  30. ^ "A day in the life of… Jen Lilley". TV Week. Bauer Media Group. January 2015. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  31. ^ Ellie (July 26, 2013). "Daytime Royalty Interview with Jen Lilley". Daytime Royalty. Daytimeroyaltyonline.com. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  32. ^ "The Soaps: Clay and Gwyn in love again?". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. May 10, 1990. p. 8. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  33. ^ Nancy Reichardt (November 29, 1991). "On the Soapbox". The Telegraph-Herald. p. 46. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  34. ^ Nancy Reichardt (November 6, 1992). "Speaking of Soaps". The Post and Courier. p. 28. Retrieved July 28, 2013.
  35. ^ Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell (July 3, 2013). "Daily Episode Update for July 2013 (7/03/2013)". National Broadcasting Company. NBC.com/Daysourlives. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  36. ^ Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell (July 9, 2013). "Daily Episode Update for July 2013 (7/09/2013)". National Broadcasting Company. NBC.com/Daysofourlives. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  37. ^ Gary Tomlin and Christopher Whitesell (July 16, 2013). "Daily Episode Update for July 2013 (7/03/2013)". National Broadcasting Company. NBC.com/Daysofourlives. Retrieved July 28, 2013.


  1. ^ During Cal's duration with the series, he was portrayed by two actors: Wortham Krimmer (1989–90) and Joseph Bottoms (1991).

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