In a new interview with The Daily Beast, the 30-year-old star of such indie films as Donnie Darko and The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys reveals her "long, strange trip" to Hollywood stardom.
Jena actually grew up with two women filling the role of parental figures in her life -- her biological mother as well as her dad's wife. Her father was married to another woman when he impregnated her mother, and she didn't have a relationship with him until they reconnected when she was a teenager, so she was raised by her mother and her girlfriend.
"They were lovers," she says. "I had two moms, and it was awesome. Double the pleasure! The more love you have as a child, the better."
She also says she lived in 27 different places by the time she was nine years old.
"We were just so poor," she explains. "We'd hop out of apartments, lose jobs, find a cheaper place, get kicked out, live in cars, and live in hotels. It was glorious."
Clearly, she doesn't regret the experience.
"I don’t think it was a tough childhood," she surprisingly says. "I actually found it quite pleasurable, and it prepared me for this strange, gypsy lifestyle of an actor. It's a beautiful thing to give children diversity of where to live and how to live; it makes you believe that security is built within instead of four concrete walls that you call a home. It was a unique way to grow up, and to see life in a different way."
It was actually her family's financial hardship that led her into acting at age 10. She booked her first audition ever for a UCLA film student's senior thesis short called Sunday's Child.
"I've got a job, so let's give it a year and see what happens," Jena -- who she says was "oddly responsible" even at such a young age -- says she told her mother.
Obviously, it was the right move for her. Jena has a whopping six films scheduled to be released in 2015, as well as a rumored new role as Carrie Kelly -- the female Robin -- in the feverishly anticipated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
"It's a really inspiring time, so it always makes me thankful to think of how I was raised, the things I was given, and the lessons I was taught, because it all becomes who you are," she muses. "It's been an incredible journey, and I feel very blessed."