Since breaking onto the scene on the CW’s Jane The Virgin, Disney Channel star Jenna Ortega has been paving the way for young Latina actresses, with a role on Disney’s Stuck In The Middle and lending her voice to the new animated Disney series Elena of Avalor.
With the success of Stuck in the Middle and your upcoming show Elena of Avalor, which is about a Latina princess, what’s it like knowing you’re paving the way for other young Latina actress?
When I first started acting there weren’t a lot of roles for Latinas, but now our opportunities are growing, and just knowing that my fellow Latinas are getting more and more opportunities makes me proud. I’m proud to be a part of such a big movement for the Hispanic community. Everyone who supports me motivates me to try to do a better job on everything I do.
What about Harley made you want to play her?
I wanted to be Harley because I could relate to all of her problems and I loved that! I’m proud that Disney chose to make her a Latina who is smart, making her a role model for young girls. I also love that Harley is confident and doesn’t care about what other people think of her or her family. Harley embraces all of her differences, which I find inspiring.
What about Isabel made you want to play her?
As a young girl, I always wanted to be a princess but didn’t relate to any of them because none of them looked like me. I am so proud to be part of Elena of Avalor because now girls who look like me will be represented, which is huge! I think voicing a cartoon is cool and love that I could show up to work wearing sweat pants! I love that Isabel is a smart inventor, who loves her family – she’s just like Harley in that way. Isabel doesn’t judge a book by its cover and spreads light and love.
Who are your role models in Hollywood?
My role models are Gina Rodriguez and Jennifer Lawrence. They both spread kindness, are extremely talented and have great personalities that come through on social media and interviews. I aspire to be as talented as they are one day.
Do you prefer live-action or voice work?
I enjoy them both for different reasons. I love voice work because it is a little bit more challenging to make an emotion come across through your voice, and I like a challenge! Plus, I get to play a cute little animated character, which is pretty cool. I love live-action because you can express emotions with your eyes and facial expressions without even saying anything. I think that is one of the most beautiful things about acting.
What’s your favorite show on TV (besides your own, of course!)?
I love American Horror Story! My older sister watches the episodes before me though, so I know which scenes to skip over. It can be pretty grown-up sometimes, but my mom lets me watch it because the acting is phenomenal and I study the actresses' performances to gain inspiration. I also enjoy watching the show Scream because I always love a good mystery and scare!