It is not uncommon to see the young stars of Disney Channel enter a phase radically leaving the children’s channel. Miley Cyrus, for example, adopted a much more irreverent stance, with short hair and much less traditional looks. Lindsay Lohan, on the other hand, followed a very troubled career, and even exchanged the recording sets for the courtrooms, for the most controversial topics – such as drug consumption. However, some actresses deviate from what seems to be the norm. Hillary Duff, known for playing Lizzie McGuire, and Selena Gomez, who also bet on a musical career and was the star of one of the most praised series of the last year, “Homicide at Home”, are the faces of this paradigm.
Now that there is a new generation of Disney talent coming, more stories of this genre are emerging. Jenna Ortega is one such case. The 19-year-old actress started out at Disney but has recently made a name for herself in a few blockbusters, indie movies and series that we’ve all heard about. Now, she’s gearing up to be the next Wednesday Addams, the girl with a far too dark sense of humor in the “Addams Family” remake. The Netflix series will be directed by Tim Burton.
Ortega was only eight years old when he appeared, albeit sporadically, in major productions such as “CSI: New York”, the soap opera “Days Of Our Lives” and “Insidious: Chapter 2”. However, it wasn’t until 2014, at the age of 12, that he rose towards current stardom, thanks to his recurring appearance on “Jane The Virgin”, which is available on Netflix. Jenna Ortega played the younger version of the main character, a role played by Gina Rodriguez – and who was, consequently, a great inspiration for the young actress. “I always see her in the studio and she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. I love you so much. Whenever I see her she gives me a lesson for life”, she told “People”.
In 2016, she was the star of “The Middle Sister”, a super popular series on Disney Channel that was broadcast for two years and which earned her the label of another girl on the children’s channel. But her next big project would be something no one was expecting. In 2019, she was one of the highlights of the second season of “Tu”, on Netflix. She played Ellie Alves, a young generation Z—and shallow Los Angeles—who eventually forms a friendship of sorts, albeit a wary one, with Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley).
We could have expected a one-dimensional role, after the first few episodes in which the character underwent little development. But Jenna Ortega ended up becoming a pivotal point in the story, showing a wide range of emotions and critical acclaim. These moments of suspense even earned him the casting call for the new “Screams” movie.
“It’s unbelievable to be a part of this franchise. I never thought I would have this opportunity and having so much respect for the saga, even before I got this role, it was really huge enthusiasm. Horror is also a great passion of mine”, he tells in conversation with “Mamas Geeky”.
Ortega was born in 2002, and the first “Screams” movie was released in 1996. This time difference, however, did not stop her from becoming an avid follower of Ghostface and all of its victims. She’s always been skittish, which seems counterintuitive, but at age 14 she finally got up the courage to see the saga.
“Screams” is described as a revolutionizer of the sub-genre of terror that is the slashers, at a time when each film seemed to follow the same format. The pressure for this new film, released 25 years after the original, was a lot, and the actress felt it every day. “All the characters from the previous films were played perfectly, and the scripts were also perfect. And the saga is much loved, as if it were a child of the fans. It’s like a son to me,” she reveals to “MTV News”. “We want to do justice to the franchise,” she adds. Despite being alongside “Spider-Man: No Homecoming”, the film, starring again Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courtney Cox, was a success at the box office, taking in more than 140 million dollars globally. Jenna Ortega was highlighted and, at the MTV Awards, won the award for Best Terrifying Acting.
You’re on your way to teaming up with famous scream queens like Jamie Lee Curtis (“Halloween”). The next film after “Screams” only fostered this path. “X” is a production of A24 studios, which have already created cult horror films like “Hereditary” and “Midsommar”.
The story follows a group of young filmmakers who leave for rural Texas to film their new project, a pornographic film. Once there, the elderly hosts find out what the tenants are up to. From that moment on, they are all in danger. And only one comes out alive.
“I would say it was one of my favorite filming experiences. We recorded in New Zealand. I had never been there. It has to be one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited, and I would live there if I could”, he tells “Complex”.
Plays Lorraine Day, a young woman who joins the journey with the other directors and actors. She grew up in a very closed environment, and was nicknamed the “church mouse”. But she ends up surprising everyone when she insists on appearing in one of the scenes in that production for adults. She therefore went from being a quiet middle sister on the Disney Channel to a role close to pornography.
The next project could be mythical
His next big role will be in a universe followed by millions of fans. We are talking about the “Addams Family”, which will receive a reboot on Netflix, in a series focused on Wednesday, which will be starring Jenna Ortega. In this project, we will follow the darkest girl ever in her daily life at school and how she learned to control her psychic powers. In between, you’ll have to investigate several macabre mysteries.
“She’s already been played perfectly, so there’s nothing I can improve on. I tried really hard not to copy anyone and create my own version of the character”, she told “Extra TV”. “What changes this Wednesday is that, thanks to the fact that it’s an eight-hour series, we’re going to spend more time like her than we’ve ever been before, as she’s always been that character who says a sentence and shuts up. It’s really interesting to get to know her better and give her a new dimension and bring emotion to a character that doesn’t have it.”
The production was directed by the charismatic Tim Burton. The young actress loved the experience of working with him. “Tim has been an incredible collaborator. Not all filmmakers are as open to opinions and improvisations as he is. He has been a great support and the most detail-oriented director I have ever met.”
Not to forget such humble roots, Jenna makes sure that whenever she gets home, she has dishes waiting for her, and a list of tasks to complete. Just like all the brothers. “I get home from the studio and they don’t let me forget that I have dishes to wash”.