9 mar 2023

Jenna Ortega: 5 things to know about the Scream VI and Wednesday heroine

At just 20, Jenna Ortega has become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after young American actresses and a Gen Z icon. Sharp and harsh, she has made an explosive entrance as the queen of sarcasm in the series Wednesday, before shining as the combative daughter of a serial killer in Scream VI, out on Wednesday, March 8th, 2023. Who is hiding behind this pretty, jaded pout?

1. Jenna Ortega, the precocious actress and footballer’s apprentice


She has spent half her life behind the camera. Jenna Marie Ortega, born in 2002 in Coachella (California) to a Mexican father and a Mexican-Porto Rican mother, made her debuts in the film industry at an early age. The fourth of six children wanted to become an actress from the age of 6 and started casting at 8, dreaming of becoming the Puerto Rican Dakota Fanning. Like Wednesday Addams in Wednesday (2022), one of the most-viewed series in Netflix history that propelled her in the limelight after she auditioned covered in fake blood in front of Tim Burton, Jenna Ortega never had a normal childhood. She explained in an interview that she has regrets today, since she never got a chance to go to any party or prom. She also almost gave up her acting career to play football professionally in the American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO), a youth sports organization. Yet, her sacrifices paid off, to the point of securing a nomination for the 2023 Golden Globes. The actress, who names Denzel Washington and Gina Rodriguez as her favorite actors, first appeared on television in the series CSI: NY, some Disney productions, and other successful films, such as Iron Man 3, in the 2010s. But her name really started to draw people’s attention with her appearances in Jane the Virgin and the second season of the Netflix show You.


2. A penchant for horror, from X to Scream VI


If Jenna Ortega has already given a try at several cinematographic genres, from soap to comedy and romance, horror films are by far her specialty. She has become one of today’s scream queens – those actresses who play the role of young women falling victim to the main enemy in a film. She appeared in the horrific Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013), The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2017), American Carnage (2022), X (2022), Scream (2022), and Scream VI, which has just been released on March 8th, 2023. In this new, very good instalment of the cult franchise, she plays the daughter of a serial killer, who becomes the target of another killer in a ghost mask – Ghostface – along with her sister. But she is determined to get him first…


With her dark eyes, her Christina Ricci-like pout, and her ability to not blink, as seen in Wednesday, she excels in bloody and terrifying features. And it is precisely the horror genre that she prefers to shoot. Last year, on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the actress said: “I love horror films. I don’t know what it is about having blood thrown on your face and running around screaming bloody murder. But it really is so therapeutic, so much fun. Everyone who works on horror sets loves horror. People do special effects because they grew up loving gore.”


3. His cult dance scene in Wednesday was partly inspired by a French actor


It is without any doubt the best scene in the first season of the series Wednesday, which came out last year on Netflix. Dressed in an Alaïa dress, Jenna Ortega danced to the excellent Goo Goo Muck (1981) by the American band The Cramps in a scene that made all marginalized people around the world feel good. For this great “television” moment, which she shot during Covid, the actress imagined and choreographed the dance herself during several sleepless nights. To do so, she drew her inspiration from the dance performed by Lisa Loring, the first Wednesday Addams on screen (who died last January), but also from the singers Lene Lovich and Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees, as well as from some videos of young goths partying in the 1980s. She was also inspired by American dancer Bob Fosse’s choreographies and French actor Denis Lavant’s wild moves to David Bowie in Leos Carax’s sublime film Mauvais Sang (1986). The result? A strange and magnetic dance that has captivated TikTok and prompted numerous, more or less successful imitations, notably to the speeded-up version of Lady Gaga’s Bloody Mary (2011). Even the latter took up the challenge and performed the now famous choreography. However, in the face of this tremendous success, the gothic community has been divided on social media. Indeed, while Wednesday’s dance has been replicated and praised millions of times, people who dress in black and listen to The Cure still are victims of stigmatization and harassment at school.


Jenna Ortega in a Versace dress and Tiffany & Co. jewelry , at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Los Angeles, February 26, 2023. Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

4. A committed actress


Jenna Ortega is one of those celebrities who uses her fame for the greater good, with a special focus on minorities. She is a pro- immigration advocate, fights against discrimination and supports the LGBT community through the organization Pride Over Prejudice. As a tribute to her grandfather, who died of AIDS-related complications, the young star has also become the ambassador for UNAIDS, a United Nations programme fighting against the HIV pandemic. “I want to help eliminate the stigma of AIDS and get people talking about it. Make it normal, because the disease affects all of us,” she explained. The one who will soon be starring next to The Weeknd in an undisclosed project, also held a meet and greet with her fans when she was 14 to raise money to help a 5-year-old girl fighting cancer in 2016.

Jenna Ortega, tenez face of Adidas Sportswear by Adidas

5. A Gen Z icon


While there are many things that make her exceptional, such as learning to play the cello for her role in Wednesday, Jenna Ortega is also a 20-year-old girl, almost like everyone else. She loves chocolate, Stranger Things, writing – she published a book called It’s All Love: Reflections for Your Heart & Soul in 2021 –, cooking shows, spicy food. She dreams of directing a film, and admits she shares Wednesday Addams’ teenage sense of sarcasm. All these facets make her the perfect Gen Z icon and fashion labels already want her. A key guest at the latest Saint Laurent fashion show, the young girl with the gothic aura is also Adidas’ new face. A distinctive taste for sharp contrasts that could take her very far.


Scream VI by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, starring Jenna Ortega, Melissa Barrera, Courteney Cox, and Hayden Panettiere, coming out on March 8th, 2023.