By Karis Fields
Photo: Refinery29 – Source
Earlier this year, The Hollywood Reporter put out an article as part of their “Next Big Thing” series centered around 19 year old actress Jenna Ortega. With back-to-back film releases and nonstop work on upcoming projects, there’s no doubt that 2022 is Ortega’s year.
Ortega’s masterful range was shown on screens in January with the releases of the newest Scream installment in theaters and Megan Park directorial debut The Fallout on HBO Max. Both films are entirely different in genre and tone, with Scream in the horror/slasher genre and The Fallout on the other end of the spectrum in the dramatic/coming-of-age genre. But, looking at Ortega’s performances in these two films respectively, it doesn’t appear to be a big obstacle for the young actress. Critics and audiences alike have cited Ortega’s performance in The Fallout, a film about a highschooler navigating through the aftermath of tragedy, as revolutionary, profound, and beautifully nuanced. As for her role in Scream, many have stated Ortega’s portrayal of Ghostface victim Tara as an emotionally charged standout performance.
March 18th marked the theatrical release of Ortega’s most recent film, X. Ortega’s performance in director Ti West’s A24 horror film cements her as Hollywood’s next scream queen. In the film, Ortega plays the quiet and conservative Lorraine, nicknamed “church mouse”. Lorraine joins the crew to assist her boyfriend in filming a project which, unbeknownst to her at first, is a pornagraphic film. Ortega’s Lorraine soon adapts to this new environment and begins to voice her desires of being in the film instead of working behind the scenes. Those who have seen the film have called Ortega’s performance dynamic and perfectly embodied.
While the spotlight shining on Ortega in Hollywood is relatively new, the actress isn’t at all new to the acting game. In fact, Ortega has a decade of acting experience under her belt, this year marking her ten years in the industry. Making her acting debut at age nine, Ortega first appeared in an episode of the sitcom Rob in 2012. In that same year, she appeared on an episode of CSI: NY. The following year, Ortega appeared in a small role of the vice president’s daughter in Iron Man 3 and the role of Annie in Insidious: Chapter 2. In 2014, Ortega started appearing on the series Jane the Virgin as Young Jane. Ortega landed her first lead role in a series in the 2016 Disney Channel sitcom Stuck in the Middle as the creative inventor middle child Harley Diaz. Once the show concluded in 2019, Ortega wanted to branch out from her Disney Channel background and take on more mature roles. Ortega starred alongside Penn Badgley and Victoria Pedretti in season two of the Netflix drama You back in 2019 as the film-loving Ellie Alves. In 2020, Ortega also starred in the just as gory sequel to Netflix’s 2017 horror comedy film The Babysitter, The Babysitter: Killer Queen.
As for future projects Ortega is involved in, the actress is set to star in the Tim Burton series Wednesday as the titular character. Wednesday follows Wednesday Adams navigating throughout her teen years in high school. The series, set to release on Netflix later this year, also stars Christina Ricci, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Luis Guzmán.
By the end of 2022, Jenna Ortega is bound to be a household name. She is on her way to becoming a Gen-Z defining actress. In addition, Ortega is gradually reaching the same heights as her scream queen predecessors before her. We, for one, can’t wait to see what other projects she’ll pick up next.