BELLO SPOTLIGHT to be featured in February 2020 issue.
Jenna Ortega: Netflix’s Resident Girl Detective
By Aris Pangan
Season 1 of Netflix’s hit show You captured the hearts of its viewers with young Paco, main character Joe Goldberg’s neighbor and basically adopted child. Season 2 moved Joe’s character to Los Angeles, and with a new city came a new young and sassy neighbor – Ellie Alves, played by 17 year old Jenna Ortega. Ellie is sassy, a little nosy, and quickly became the show’s viewers’ favorite teen detective. Her suspicion of Joe and proximity to him as his neighbor brought in even more suspense to the popular thriller series. We had the opportunity to sit down with Jenna and discuss her transition from Disney’s Stuck in the Middle to You, some aspirations of hers, and her favorite parts about playing Ellie.
What sparked your interest in acting and how did you get where you are today?
There wasn’t anything that specifically sparked my interest in the craft, I just randomly thought out loud about it one day and it eventually became an obsession. That thought first occurred when I was 6 years old and I didn’t start participating in the industry till I was about 9 1/2 or 10. I was discovered on Facebook. Since then I’ve been building a resume, gaining experience and learning from all of the talent around me. It’s all been very exciting but a lot of work. I wasn’t aware of the commitment I was making when I first began acting, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What was the transition like between your role on Disney Channel and your role in a thriller series?
It was confusing. After working in children’s programming for years, to make an immediate switch into Thriller, a territory I had never stepped foot in before, was intimidating. I felt like I was learning how to act again. The entire season was an experiment for me. And to join a project that already had such success and was highly anticipated, that adds a ton of pressure. In no way did I want to be a weak link or not fit in with the tone of the show or hinder its storytelling in any form.
What has been your most challenging role so far?
To date, I would have to say a character I portrayed in an indie film over the summer in Spain last year because I didn’t have any emotional experiences to draw from. But I’m just getting started, I feel that character is yet to come.
What is your favorite part about playing Ellie on You?
My favorite part about playing Ellie is how bold she is. She will say anything that comes to her mind and it’s amazing. I’m not saying it’s always appropriate or classy, but she’s a character and I feel we would get along really well.
How are you similar and different from Ellie?
I think we have a very similar thought process and are interested in the same type of films. We both want to be directors. Ellie aspires to be intimidating to some and is quite nosy, whereas I don’t really care to invest time into figuring someone out like my neighbor. I’m not as sociable. It’s also none of my business and I’m fine with that.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not working?
Spend time with the people I love. Since I work in Los Angeles or sometimes out of state/country, I don’t see my friends or family from the Coachella Valley often. I also enjoy writing. Whether it be a random essay or a screenplay I never touch again, it’s relaxing and artistically freeing.
What’s your dream role?
A character who is impactful and leaves their mark in film. A female Tyler Durden would be cool. An empowering character like Ellen Ripley would be cool, too.
Who is someone you would love to collaborate with?
The Safdie Brothers.
If you could remake any TV show or movie, what would it be and who would you play?
If they ever did a remake of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which I hope they never touch) I think I would like to be Clementine. It would be interesting.
What’s your spirit animal and why?
Never thought about this so I took a quiz. Lmao. I got tiger because I “put a special emphasis on raw feelings and emotions. The tiger spirit animal symbolizes primal instincts, unpredictability, and ability to trust yourself.” I like this, and it perfectly coincides with my career choice.
If you could only bring three movies with you on a deserted island, which ones would you bring?
This is arduous. I’m going to say 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick), The Wolf of Wall Street, and Get Out. I haven’t seen Enough films to be content with this one.
Where do you hope to be five years from now?
Photographer FIORELLA OCCHIPINTI @fiorella_occhipinti
Creative Direction ALEKSANDAR TOMOVIC @alekandsteph
Stylist ENRIQUE MELENDEZ @mrenriquemelendez
Styling Assistant MICHELLE THOMAS @auntfunkyscloset
Hair ALEXANDRA PINA @hairbyalexandrapina
Makeup HANNAH REED @hannahreedmua
Production @BELLOMediaGroup x @MaisonPriveePR_LA x @bonnetalex18