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Walking on set, I had expected to see a bubbly young Disney channel kid excited to get all dressed up. What I found was quite the opposite, not that she was not excited or happy, but Jenna Ortega held a certain maturity about her. She sat in the makeup chair, legs crossed and held perfectly still as the hair stylist made small talk. I greeted mom, Natalie first who smiled and returned my Thank You for being here. I turned and said Hello to Jenna and she immediately perked up with a big smile and said Hi. I asked how she liked New York so far and she replied “I love it! So excited to be here!”

We spoke a bit more before sending her off to wardrobe but I’ll leave all that good stuff for later. After dressing she came out ready to rock her shoot. The once quiet girl, who sat in the makeup chair seeming to be thinking over her next big move to take the industry by storm, completely came out of her shell surprising us all! We sat amazed that every pose and subtle change in stance gave the perfect shot. Fitting is my story to actual life as mom says “She is made for this”. She truly is! The whole team could tell she was more comfortable in front of the camera than anything else. The moment the camera laid lens on her was a match made in Posh heaven.

So, you’re here in NY for some of the summer, tell us a little about what you’re working on?
In the New YorkSpectacular starring the Radio City Rockettes, I play abratty teenager named Emily. When Emily and her younger brother get separated from their parents on the subway,Emily tries to act more grown up than she actually is. While searching for their parents, the kids find the Rockettes who help them discover the magic of New York City.



Is theater much different for you, from acting on a TV show or movie?
Yes! It is very different from filming. When you are filming you can mess up a line and try again. If you mess up a line in theater, the whole audience knows and you have to try to save the scene you messed up on LIVE!

Do you still get excited when your agent calls and says “Jenna you got the gig?”
Absolutely. Booking jobs in this business is rough, so any job is a celebration. No matter how small the role is!

What has been your favorite project so far?
My favorite project so far has been Stuck in the Middle. I have a really fun cast and we get along great. They make filming a blast, and I love seeing their faces every day! That cast is my 2nd family.

And what was your first role ever?
My first role ever was a Co-Star role on the TV show “Rob!” starring Rob Schneider. I can imagine working on The Little Rascals was a blast, what was your favorite scene to work on? My favorite scene to work on when we were filming The Little Rascals was the cake baking scene. The crew was shaking the oven violently and the make-up team covered us in sticky pancake batter!

You also voice the new Disney series Elena of Avalor, how does it feel to be the voice of the first Disney Latina princess?
Voicing a Disney Latina princess is a dream come true. When I was younger, I could not see myself as a Disney princess because I could not help but notice that I did not look like any of them. I wanted to look like Cinderella so badly. When I was 4, I asked my mom if I could dye my hair blonde for my birthday so I could look like Cinderella!Now with Princess Elena of Avalor, little girls that look like me can see themselves as a Disney princess, and that is something that I am very proud of.

Is there any one person that you’re so happy to have had the opportunity to work with?
I am so happy to be able to say that I worked with Gina Rodriguez. She is super sweet, amazingly talented, and is such a great role model for young Latinas like myself. I wish her talent was as contagious as her incredible personality!

How about an actor that you would like the opportunity to work with in the future?
I would love to work withDenzel Washington in the future! I first saw him act when I was younger in “Man on Fire”, and since then I have been hooked! He is so talented and it would be an honor to work with him.

And of course, we can’t forget about Stuck in the Middle, what in that show relates to your actual life offscreen?
Harley and I are both middle children in big families, we both like math and science, and we both are Latinas. We also love our families very much and would do anything for them!

So how does being involved in so many projects affect your school life, social life… do you still get to participate in everyday kid stuff?
I usually have the weekends off of work, so I spend that time playing soccer, hanging out with my family, and having sleepovers with my friends. I always make time for my family and friends; they are my number one supporters and I love them all very much!

Is there anything you find particularly hard as a child actor?
I think the hardest part about being a child actor is not having a say on what is going on onscreen all the time.A lot of the times we get critiqued for saying a line a certain way, but in reality, it was a producer or director that had us say it that way! We do not always agree with the way we are told to say a specific line, but it is the producer/director’s show, they are the bosses.

And what type of projects do you see for yourself in the future? Anything you haven’t tried that you would like to try?
I would love to act in big feature films, and I would love to become a writer/producer/director. I say this becauseI feel like I would have more control over what goes on onscreen and what the final product turns out like!

How did it feel being on set with Posh Kids Magazine? Was it very different from the average photoshoot you’re use to? What was your favorite part about the experience of being the subject of a high fashion shoot? Did you have a favorite piece from the shoot that you got to wear?
It was very different from any shoot I had done before. It was really fun and I got to wear some cool clothes that I am not used to wearing. The shoot had a cool vibe that I really liked. My favorite piece that I wore was the daisy bunny ears, they were really cute. I was feeling myself in them(giggles).

Any favorite designers?
I do not have any favorite designers yet, only because I just started getting into fashion recently. I am still deciding, there are so many good ones out there!

Here’s a few more questions that we like to ask for our readers to get to know you a bit more, just say the first thing that comes to mind.
– Sweet or salty?
Sweet
– Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate
– Polka Dots or Stripes?
Polka dots
– Dogs or Cats?
Dogs
– Summer or Winter?
Summer
– Tom Boy or Girly Girl?
Tomboy
– Pizza or Tacos?
Too hard to choose! Pizza AND tacos!
– Pop music or rock and roll?
Pop

And one thing about you that fans might not know about you?
I used to be a cheerleader for 2 years and I love to tumble with my younger sister, Aliyah!

When did you realize this was Jenna’s path?
When Jenna was 6 years old, she started asking if she could try to act. She had previously told me that she wanted to be the first female president. She even wrote a letter to Obama and was really upset when he did not write back. I just thought it was another phase! After 2 years of begging, I realized that she was not going to give up on this, so I decided to let her try it out. Within the first few months she started booking national commercials and that is when I knew that this was her path.

How is everyday life with a child who’s a star?
My husband and I have managed to keep things pretty normal. It has only been in the last 8 months that Jenna had to stop going to public school. She’s a regular kid who hangs out with her family and friends when she is not working. She still does chores after work and is very humble which is something that we are very proud of.

Is it surreal for you seeing that so many kids and fans look up to Jenna?
It is very surreal seeing so many kids look up to Jenna. The first time she did a meet and greet,I didn’t expect many kids to show up. I was so surprised to see a line around the building and the kids’ reactions to meeting her. It was so overwhelming; we just do not see her in that way.

How does it affect your life traveling so often?
Traveling has been so much fun, I am seeing places I probably would have never seen otherwise. It has made it harder for the family to be together as much as we are used to, we are still trying to find the balance.

Do you like to be in the spotlight or do you leave that to Jenna?
I hate pictures of myself so I will leave the spotlight to her. I am happy to stand in the corner and watch.

On set for Posh Kids magazine you had the opportunity to get involved with Jenna, was this a first for you?
Being involved with this photoshoot was very different for me. I liked getting my hair and makeup done. It was also very eye opening. Sometimes I tell Jenna to quit making a certain face. I quickly learned during this shoot that it’s not as easy as it seems.

What was your favorite piece from the shoot?
I do not really have a favorite piece for myself, but I loved the mustard jumpsuit and bunny ears Jenna got to wear. That outfit reminded me of the 70’s. I wore outfits like that when I was very young.

Now Jenna, we hear, is one of 7 I believe? Do her siblings support her as well? Is it difficult for you to be the one traveling with her all the time?
Jenna is one of 6 kids. My oldest daughter has a 3 year old son. They only live 2 miles from us, so they come over a lot and we babysit my grandson at least a few times a week. When everyone is at the house, it feels much like Jenna’s show on the Disney Channel. We have only started traveling with Jenna since April. My husband and I try to balance as much as we can. The kids have taken turns traveling with me and right now we are lucky to have everyone except my oldest here in NYC with us. My older 2 kids drive, so they help shuttle my younger ones around while dad works and I am with Jenna. The most difficult thing for me has been not being able to work. I have been a nurse for 20 years; it is part of who I am. I love taking care of people, and helping to save lives. I miss my work friends and my independence, but I will always put my kids first.

If you could say anything to future grown up Jenna what would that be?
I would like to tell future Jenna to always stay true to who she is and not to be pressured to say and do things that do not represent who she is. She is such a good kid with an enormous heart, I do not want that to change. She is humble which I love, but I would like to see her be more confident as she grows up. When she is in a room full of really accomplished actors and actresses, she does not feel like anybody. I am constantly having to remind her how far she has come in her 13 years of life.

What, for you has been the best experience so far not only for Jenna but for you as her mom?
There have been so many great experiences recently for Jenna. When she was chosen as the lead of a Disney show, was a huge moment, we both cried. Watching her perform and hearing the crowd cheer at Radio City Music Hall with my family all there to watch was another fantastic night. Lastly, being at the Tony’s and sitting among A-list actors at front of the venue was another. I got a little choked up when Oprah walked past us because when Jenna was younger, she said she wanted to be the first female president. She wroteObama a letter hoping to receive a response. She checked the mail every day for a few months, but sadly he never responded.One day, she told me she wanted to write Oprah because she knew they were friends and thought she could make Obama respond to her letter. She never did write Oprah, but seeing her reminded me of that memory and just how far Jenna has come.

Do you find yourself getting star struck when meeting some of the actors Jenna is onset with? I got star struck the first time Jenna worked on TV when I saw Betty White.She was drinking her coffee standing just a few feet away from us on the CBS lot. I asked Jenna to go take a picture with her, and she replied, “Mom, let her have her morning coffee. I do not know why you get so excited she is just a person like us.” It was an eye-opening moment for sure. It was then that I realized just how different Jenna thinks, she is definitely an old soul.

Are you hoping to meet any specific actor/actress one day?
I do not really hope to meet any specific actor or actress, but I do hope that Jenna gets the opportunity to work on big feature films with some of the people that have inspired her. Actors like Denzel Washington, Lupita Nyong’o, Jessica Lange, Jennifer Lawrence, Russell Crowe, Chris Pratt, Brie Larson, etc. I want her to reach that place where she feels that she achieved what she set out to do.

Is there anything you would like to tell parents of aspiring actors and actresses?
I would like to tell parents of aspiring actors to support their kids if it is truly what their kid wants to do. It is the child that has to really want to doit because it comes with some sacrificing and requires a lot of patience.


photographed by MICHAEL CREAGH
creative director STELLA ROMAN
styled by SOPHIA BONNY
make-up by NICOLE REZ
hair by DARLENE JUHASZ
retouched by DOCTOR RAW


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