Before becoming a huge star, Jenna Ortega made a name for herself by starring as Harley Diaz in the Disney Channel series Stuck in the Middle. Now, she’s completely shed her child star image.
“Fortunately, [my fans have] grown up with me. They witnessed my puberty and then just followed,” Jenna told Entertainment Tonight during a March 2021 interview while promoting her movie The Fallout. “I think that they’re at an age where I think they’ll be able to respect maybe some of the jokes and references we make, but then also just the reality of it all and how it is an actual fear that they have to experience.”
She may still be young, but the California native, who was born in September 2002, has no plans to keep taking the same types of roles.
“I do not want to be pigeonholed as an actor, and I want to do the most diverse roles that I possibly can and really switch up,” she explained to ET. “I think it’s hard to find that in the teen category, because a lot of times people try to write the same stereotypical teen because they don’t know any better. … I want to be conscious of the roles that I’m taking on and make sure that they’re challenging me in a new way.”
Before nabbing her Disney Channel series, Jenna did have some guest-starring roles in various shows. She even appeared briefly in 2013’s Iron Man 3. But once Jenna said goodbye to Stuck in the Middle and appeared alongside Penn Badgley as Ellie in You season 2, fans realized that she had finally grown up.
“I’m luckier than most kids in the sense that I haven’t really lived a normal lifestyle. And I’ve been working,” she told Cosmopolitan in April 2021, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “I feel for the kids who are missing their prom or missing the opportunity to graduate or can’t have that high school experience they typically would or go to the birthday parties that they wanted. Because I think that’s such an important part of life that I missed out on and wish I had had. And not to say that I’m not very fortunate for everything else that I’ve experienced, but I think that it’s got to be weird for people who are unable to work or go out or do what I do.”
From a child star to a mature young woman, Jenna has definitely come a long way! Scroll through our gallery to see the actress’ transformation over the years.
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