We bet you have a crew of friends you do everything with — sit together at lunch, go shopping at the mall and make silly Snapchats together. Well, Stuck in the Middle star Jenna Ortega always had that too, and like you, they were some of the most important people in her life. So when it seemed like someone was trying to stir up drama within her group of bestie, the 14-year-old actress got to the bottom of the problem…and learned an important friendship lesson while she was at it.

Jenna was always an outgoing girl when she started middle school. Therefore, when she met a new girl who seemed cool, she decided to introduce the girl to her other friends. Shortly after that girl started hanging around, Jenna’s friend group began hearing all sorts of stories about each other. “This girl kind of made up rumors about all of us and told them to people in our group,” Jenna tells J-14.

Suddenly, Jenna’s friends were coming up to her, asking if she’d really said such terrible things about them. “She even told everyone that I thought I was so much better than all of them because I just did a T.V. show,” Jenna reveals. “That bothered me because I’m the opposite of that.”

At first, Jenna didn’t know what was going on or who was starting these rumors. But after talking things out with her original group of friends, they realized that the newest addition to their squad was the one spreading all these lies.

Since she’s so friendly and open with her buds, Jenna didn’t really understand why anyone would do something like this. “I don’t know if she had a jealousy kind of thing,” Jenna admits. “But, it’s kind of crazy how someone could play you so hard like that. She had us all confused.”

And really, Jenna was still confused as to why this girl, who she considered a friend, would think she could treat people like this. “We just told her, ‘Hey, what you said really hurt our feelings,’” Jenna recalls. The girl apologized, and Jenna and her group decided not to hold a grudge. “Even though we don’t hang out as much anymore, we still have conversations at school,” she tells J-14.

Jenna was able to forgive the girl who caused so many issues within her friend group, but the experience definitely let a mark on her. And Jenna says she learned a lesson about choosing friends.

“I learned to be a little bit more careful with people you don’t know,” she shares. “Because what if that friend actually got information about me and my other friends, like secrets and stuff that’s more personal to them, that we wish we hadn’t told her.”

If that happened, the rumors that were spread around could have been so much worse. So if there’s one thing you should learn from Jenna’s situation, she wants it to be this: “Know who your true friends are, and if you are going to make a new friend, make them earn your trust.” We say always be nice to everyone, but only truly open up to the people who’ve shown they’re there for you.

The bottom line is, friendship shouldn’t be full of drama. You should be able to count on your friends to keep your secrets and to help you have fun! Jenna knows this. “When I’m looking for a friend, I want someone who is respectful, funny, can have a good time, isn’t so serious about everything and is a genuinely kind person,” she explains to us. She wants someone who’s going to come over and have a good time doing two of her favorite things: having sleepovers and pool parties. Sounds like a recipe for a great friendship!

Interview and story by Caitlin Murphy. “Jenna Ortega: ‘She spread lies about me!'” originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of J-14.

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