Jenna Ortega in Yes Day

Frequently, it is rare for anyone to achieve as much as Jenna Ortega in as little time as she has, and with as young as she is. From going toe-to-toe with a serial killer on the Netflix drama You, to starring in the platform’s latest family comedy Yes Day, and her inspirational social media presence as a crusader for diversity, the actress is everywhere. At just 18, she is also following in the footsteps of her The Babysitter: Killer Queen co-star Bella Thorne by becoming the latest former Disney Channel star to make the jump to Scream-franchise star after joining the cast of the upcoming fifth installment.

For those who are only hearing about this rising starlet for the first time, I would say that there is probably no better time to do your homework than now, given how quickly she is approaching A-lister status. That is where we come in. The following is a collection of six essential facts any devoted follower or fan in the making of Jenna Ortega should know, starting with a glimpse into her cultural background.

Jenna Ortega on Jane the Virgin

Jenna Ortega Is Of Mexican And Puerto Rican Descent

Born on September 27, 2002, in Coachella Valley, California, Jenna Ortega wrote an autobiographical article for PopSugar in 2016 revealing she is 25% Puerto Rican on her mother’s side and gets her 75% Mexican lineage from her father, whose grandmother initially came to the United States as an undocumented immigrant to better provide for her children while working to obtain her papers. The bilingual actress has proudly represented her heritage in various acting roles including as Gina Rodriguez’s younger self on Jane the Virgin, the fourth wall-breaking central character of Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle, and the network’s animated series Elena of Avalor, as the titular Latina princess’ younger sister, Isabel. In fact, Ortega’s cultural pride was pivotal to her career aspirations.

Dakota Fanning in Man on Fire

Dakota Fanning In Man On Fire Inspired Jenna Ortega To Act

Every performer remembers the moment they were convinced to pursue a career in show business, and for Jenna Ortega, that moment was when she saw director Tony Scott’s 2004 revenge thriller Man on Fire at the totally appropriate age of 6. In a March 2021 interview with Collider, the actress recalled how she was touched by then 10-year-old Dakota Fanning’s performance as Lupita Ramos, the young girl Denzel Washington’s former CIA agent, John W. Creasy, is hired to protect, and decided that she wanted to be “the Puerto Rican version of her.” That is actually not a bad comparison to what her career has evolved into since, and all it took for her to get started was a post on social media.

Jenna Ortega as Katie Torres in Yes Day

A Casting Agent Discovered Jenna Ortega On Facebook

Of course, it is quite common these days for artists to use the internet to break into the business, and Jenna Ortega is no exception, but it happened in a way that even she did not expect. Journalist Tamron Hall introduced the star of the Netflix movie Yes Day on her daytime talk show with a video of a much younger Ortega performing a dramatic monologue, unaware her mother would later post it to Facebook and immediately attract the attention of a casting agent. Years after it helped pave her way toward stardom, social media has continued to make Ortega a committed participant in connecting with fans, a fashion icon, and one of the most respected social activists of her generation.

Jenna Ortega on Stuck in the Middle

Jenna Ortega Became An Advocate For Pride Over Prejudice At 13

As I said before, Jenna Ortega is noted for her proud representation of her Latin heritage, and not just in her work, but off screen as well. In fact, for years she has been extremely vocal in her support of various cultures and communities whose voices often go unheard or ignored, and even participated in DoSomething.org’s anti-xenophobia campaign, called Pride Over Prejudice, when she was just 13, as Teen Vogue reports. Ortega has not stopped her fight to make a difference in the world since, whether it has been through politically motivated messages on her red carpet attire, inspiring her young followers to be true themselves on a live Instagram stream, or using a more traditional tool in the act of working towards change: the written word.

Jenna Ortega on You

Jenna Ortega Published Her First Book In 2021

As someone who has used social media as a means to promote positivity, Jenna Ortega realizes that it has often proved to be damaging to one’s mental health, which is something she has said she struggles with, on top of balancing her personal and professional life. That is part of what inspired her to publish It’s All Love: Reflections for Your Heart and Soul, an illustrated collection of her own original quotes, self-affirming messages, and personal anecdotes that she hopes can be helpful to one’s self-esteem. Ortega spoke to Drew Barrymore on her daytime talk show to voice her opinions on avoiding a life grounded by the past, the difference love and infatuation, and other topics that inspired the acclaimed book.

Jenna Ortega in The Babysitter: Killer Queen

Jenna Ortega Was A Horror Fan Before She Was Cast In The New Scream Movie

Jenna Ortega could not resist gushing over Drew Barrymore’s unforgettable opening scene from the first installment of the Scream franchise, which both actresses expressed mutual pride in sharing. Ortega previously dished on her early interest in horror during a Entertainment Tonight interview from the set of the upcoming fifth film, also starring original cast members Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette reprising their roles. Scream, from the directors of Ready or Not and set for a January 2022 release, is not the rising “Scream Queen’s” first scary movie (following Insidious: Chapter 2 and The Babysitter: Killer Queen) and will not be her last, as she is currently working with on X with The House of the Devil director Ti West, who happens to be friends of the slasher sequel’s helmers, Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett.

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Perhaps Radio Silence (the collective title of Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett) and Ti West could give Jenna Ortega a few pointers about filmmaking. The actress once told The Hollywood Reporter that she hopes to one day try her hand at some behind-the-camera work as a writer, producer, or director. With or without their tips, I think she has a good shot at it because, at this point, Ortega is living proof that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

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