Jenna Ortega is a young actress on the rise in Hollywood. As if she were not busy enough with starring in Disney Channel’s STUCK IN THE MIDDLE, Jenna also guest-stars in the CW series JANE THE VIRGIN as Young Jane. With comedy skills that keep the fans laughing and cheering, Jenna makes being a teen in today’s hectic world feel fun and relatable. In an exclusive interview, Jenna talks about what it is like portraying Harley Diaz in a family with seven kids in the Disney hit comedy series STUCK IN THE MIDDLE.
What was the initial appeal for you about portraying Harley Diaz and working on Disney’s STUCK IN THE MIDDLE?
JENNA: Well, first of all, I had wanted to be on Disney Channel for years. Most kids do. I also loved that Harley was in a similar situation as me. We both are Latina middle kids in big families, so I related to her in that sense and I hadn’t really seen that represented on Disney Channel yet.
How would you describe who Harley is at this point in the series?
JENNA: At this point in the series, Harley is an independent, creative, determined lady boss! She knows who she is, what she wants, and how she’s going to get it. But she’s still a teen, so she lies on occasion, can be awkward at times, and does not know how to deal with boys.
What do you most admire about her?
JENNA: I admire the faith she has in herself and in her family. Everything that is accomplished in the series happens because she never gives up and sees the best in the Diaz family.
What was it like working alongside the talented ensemble on STUCK IN THE MIDDLE?
JENNA: They’re so much fun! The cast is my second family. Working doesn’t feel like work with them, and I’m so lucky to be able to work with such professionals. They know when’s the right time to be serious and when to Milly rock and recite old vines. (hahaha)
To date, what has been your favorite part about working on STUCK IN THE MIDDLE over the past couple of seasons?
JENNA: My favorite part easily is making families happy and representing the ones that relate to Harley Diaz. The best feeling is meeting our audience!
What do you think viewers have connected to that makes STUCK IN THE MIDDLE such a success?
JENNA: I think all viewers, whether they live in a big family or not, can relate to the show in some way because there is such a wide variety of characters. Everyone has different preferences and find different things funny, and I think our show does a good job in trying to capture the different types of funny.
What has surprised you about the entire experience of working on STUCK IN THE MIDDLE?
JENNA: What surprises me most is I still haven’t gotten over the initial shock of “I’m on a Disney show.” I cry tears of joy at least once a week because of it. Everyone on set always thinks I’m crazy because we’ve been filming for three years now, but I’m just trying to soak in every moment, ya know?
What are you most proud of about working on STUCK IN THE MIDDLE to date?
JENNA: I am most proud that we are a Hispanic family on Disney! Representation matters, and it’s very important to me that kids with my cultural background see themselves on Disney Channel so that they know they can make their dreams come true too, no mattered how big they are.
What has surprised you most about your career so far?
JENNA: What surprises me most about my career is how much it has taught me. Not only have I learned about important topics in the world, but I’ve also learned a lot about what goes on behind the camera. When I first started, I just wanted to be an actress. Now I also want to be a director, producer, and writer. It’s opened my mind to a whole new world of possibilities.
Then what are the perks of where you are in your career right now?
JENNA: One of the perks of my career is definitely the platform I’ve been given. Something I’ve always said from the beginning of my career is that I’m going to use my platform, no matter how big or small, for good. Whether its educating people on HIV/AIDs, how to deal with hate, or The Time’s Up movement. My generation contains our future leaders, so if they’re gonna be following me on instagram, why not educate them important topics? Moving on, I get to make people all over the world smile, which is such a blessing. Oh, and another perk is free Disneyland tickets! (Hahahaha)
Do you find any of you character’s habits manifesting in your own life? Like what?
JENNA: I don’t really find any of my character’s habits manifesting in my own life. We’re already pretty similar.
Has there been any great advice you have gotten about working as an actor?
JENNA: The best advice I’ve been given as an actor is to never give up. I know that’s cliche, but really, you gotta keep pushing through. You’re going to get a lot more no’s than yes’s, and you’re always looking for the next job. The goal is to work so hard that you no longer have to look for jobs, but you are being offered jobs!
What advice would you offer to other upcoming and aspiring actors?
JENNA: To work hard and believe in yourself. Yes, this all should be fun, but jobs aren’t going to just fall in your lap. And if you don’t believe you can do the character justice than you can’t. If you’re confident and work hard on the character, it makes a world of difference. Please understand you have so much potential, don’t let insecurities weigh you down!
At a time when women’s voices are rising to be heard and respected around the country and world, what do you recommend your fans do to lend support in that endeavor?
JENNA: Use your voice! Stand up for what you believe in. Just be sure to educate yourself on the topic before you go off, and handle the conversation with class.
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can share that fans should keep an eye out for?
JENNA: I have a movie coming out called “Saving Flora.” It’s a really sweet story, and it’s going to come out this year!
To see what further fun and adventures Jenna has as Harley in STUCK IN THE MIDDLE, be sure to tune in for all new episodes on Friday, March 9th when the show returns for the second half of Season 3. To see preview clips and other fun moments from the show, be sure to follow STUCK IN THE MIDDLE on Twitter @DisneySITM. Then to see what Jenna is up to as her career grows, you can also follow her on Twitter @JennaOrtega and keep an eye out for the premiere of “Saving Flora” scheduled to be released later this year.
Video clip from STUCK IN THE MIDDLE:
Video clip from JANE THE VIRGIN:
SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER | Tiffany covers events such as San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon and press junkets, as well as covering events at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. She has a great love for television and believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored. Tiffany is one of the newest members to the prestigious Television Critics Association and is happy to be able to share her passion for television shows with an even wider audience of fans and her fellow critics..