Jena Sims is a full-time actress, model, world traveler, and award-winning philanthropist. This Georgia peach, born and bred in a small town, now calls Hollywood her home, taking her y’all-Southern-drawl, spitfire wit, and natural ability on both sides of the camera in tow. Jena also is the founder and president of the nationally-recognized nonprofit organization HBBQs, Inc., which organizes noncompetitive pageants for children facing serious challenges.
Jena’s recent credits include Entourage, Dexter, Vampire Diaries, CSI, One Tree Hill, Leverage, and the lead in Roger Corman’s latest flick, Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader. But it’s Jena’s sky-high legs that got her foot in the door. Today, those famous legs are featured on the cover of an iTunes album and in many swimsuit and lingerie campaigns.
Jena’s nonprofit organization, HBBQs, Inc., brings confidence and self-esteem to children facing cancer and other serious challenges through a non-competitive pageant she designed called Pageant of Hope™. Nearly 500 children have participated in Jena’s organization across eight states and two countries, and it was most recently featured in an episode of the ABC reality TV series Everyday Health.
Jena grew up in Winder, Georgia, and graduated from Winder-Barrow High School in 2007. She attended Belmont University in Nashville, where she studied marketing. She currently lives in Los Angeles, balancing her career, nonprofit work, and finding space to fit her impressive shoe collection.
Armed with talent, drive, and a flair for competition, Jena hit the pageant circuit in local and state-wide competitions near Atlanta at the age of 15, capturing the judges attention with poise, style, and her longtime commitment to charity work.
In 2004, Jena won her first state-wide competition as the 2004 Miss Georgia Junior National Teenager. Later that year, she brought home the pageant’s national title of Miss Junior National Teenager, making her the organization’s national ambassador for 2005 and shining a light on her modeling career and charity work.
Jena’s drive and ambition kicked in once again in 2007, when she won the Miss Georgia Teen USA pageant. Jena’s year of service sparked a passion for travel and meeting new people and included mastering the skills of on-camera interviews, power sleeping on planes, and donning full wardrobe and makeup in 10 minutes. In August of 2007, Jena competed in the Miss Teen USA pageant, but did not place. Undeterred, Jena started college classes the next day at Belmont University and set her sights on taking her charity work to the next level through an organization she founded called the Has-Been Beauty Queens.
Jena is founder and president of the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization HBBQs, Inc. (“Has-Been Beauty Queens”), which she started in 2006 after nearly a decade of fundraising and organizing events as one of the youngest volunteers for the American Cancer Society. At the age of 10, Jena was so moved by the death of both her grandfathers from cancer that she took action and never looked back. Today, she has raised more than $88,000 for cancer research and has engaged nearly 800 people in charity and nonprofit work.
The HBBQs, Inc. team travels to cities across the country and abroad to organize a noncompetitive event, called Pageant of Hope™, that aims to raise the self-esteem of children facing cancer and other serious challenges. Jena’s mission for the organization is to give each child the opportunity to be a prince or a princess for the day—a moment to be celebrated for who they are and to take their mind off of endless hospital visits and treatments.
In 2011, Jena and her team of volunteers (HBBQs) were selected by EverydayHealth.com to be featured in the reality TV series Everyday Health on ABC, which spotlights the best of grassroots organizations giving back to the health community today.
Jena’s charity work has received numerous national awards from DoSomething.org, Nestle Very Best in Youth, CosmoGIRL! Magazine, Kohl’s Kids Who Care, the Caring Institute, Prudential Spirit of Community, Southern Heroes, Build-A-Bear Huggable Heroes, Kids Hall of Fame, Amazing Kids, Next Step Amazing, Teen Ink Magazine, and has been recognized by NFIB Georgia Young Entrepreneur, WXIA Kids Who Care, Barrow County Youth Volunteer of the Year, and many other state and local accolades.