There have been many aspiring actors who started out in the industry as children, taking on roles when they are still quite young and showcasing their impressive talents. While some eventually decided to leave the industry, there are those who continue to make a name for themselves throughout the years— Jenna Ortega being one of them. Ortega started her journey by doing small roles in shows such as Rob and CSI: NY. After that, she’s become more recognized by the public and it only grows from there. Later this year, Ortega will star as Wednesday Addams in the Netflix comedy horror series, Wednesday, where we’ll follow her as she navigates life in Nevermore Academy. She will also be reprising her role as Tara Carpenter in the upcoming sixth Scream film, the title yet to be announced. Roles as huge as these are certainly a testament to her talent and it’s no doubt that we will see more of her in different projects soon.
Of course, between the minor roles and her upcoming projects, there are performances that are considered as the ones that pushed her into further recognition. With that, here are some of Jenna Ortega’s best performances.
Young Jane in Jane the Virgin (2014-2019)
Ortega plays the young version of the titular character (Gina Rodriguez) in this modern romantic comedy series by The CW. The show follows a religious young woman named Jane who is surprised upon learning that she is pregnant – since she’s a virgin. She learns later that she was mistakenly artificially inseminated. Viewers watch her as she navigates her complicated life and situation, including all the family and romantic drama that comes along with it. With five seasons, there are episodes in which Jane has different flashbacks of her childhood and this is where we get to see Ortega shine. Before Jane the Virgin, she only had small roles, so this one is a big deal. Ortega was around 11 years old when she first appeared in this beloved show, but she managed to capture Rodriguez’s character incredibly well, having the perfect balance of humor and drama. Overall, Ortega appeared in over 30 episodes, and it definitely made a great, welcome addition.
Harley Diaz in Stuck in the Middle (2016-2018)
In between doing Jane the Virgin, Ortega lands the main role in Disney Channel’s Stuck in the Middle, a family comedy created by Alison Brown. The show follows a big family, consisting of the parents and their seven kids, with each of them possessing different qualities. However, the story primarily focuses on the middle child, Harley (Ortega), and viewers see the show from her perspective. Harley is a young prodigy who calls herself an inventor who loves to create and engineer new contraptions or devices. As the middle child, she finds different ways to creatively manage living in a rather chaotic household with her huge family. Many people would recognize Ortega from this show, considering the amount of impact that Disney has. While it only ran for three seasons, Stuck in the Middle did gather millions of views, with some critics praising Ortega and her performance, specifically because of how she carried the show
Princess Isabel in Elena of Avalor (2016-2020)
Another Disney project featuring Ortega is Elena of Avalor, an American animated series with three seasons in total. The show follows the life of teenager Elena Castillo Flores, a Latina princess who must uphold and learn new things to become a thoughtful, brave, and reliable leader for her people with the help of her friends and family. Elena goes on epic adventures throughout the series, all the while caring for her little sister, Isabel (Ortega). Ortega voices Isabel, Elena’s sister who is incredibly intelligent at her young age. She is also very creative and would often show that through her art and inventions. Similar to Elena, she is loyal to the kingdom and is often seen helping the people should they have any problems. Despite it being a voice role, it’s clear that Ortega has effectively depicted her precocious character well, capturing Isabel’s optimism and kindness.