Jenna Ortega is going old school to stay grounded.
“There’s a month of this year that I want to take off, and I’ve made it very clear that I’m going to take this month off. I’m going to travel, I just got a flip phone, I’m just going to be hidden for a while,” Ortega said in an Elle cover story. “I have to work things around my schedule to make sure that that month stays open. There’s a part of it that’s stressful because it’s like,’‘Oh my God, can I tell this director that I don’t want to work these two weeks? Can I?’ I don’t know, but I am also making the rules.”
The “Stuck in the Middle” alum previously detailed how “devastated” she was to not return for “You” Season 4 due to conflicting production schedules. Ortega still is grappling with being so in-demand as an actress.
“If I want to make films so badly and I want to play characters or I want to direct and write film scores, I could do that all in my backyard. I don’t have to be doing it on a grand scale like this,” Ortega said. “But ultimately, all the other side stuff that comes with my job, sometimes it makes it feel like it’s almost not worth it. I don’t want to feel like a walking billboard, which is a really, really scary feeling because then you feel less and less in control of your life. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of people or know people who have succumbed to that pressure. I don’t want to belong to anyone or anything.”
Ortega continued, “I’ll see someone on the street, and it’s kind of annoying because I feel like I’m infected. My job [has given me] a virus where I can’t function without picking up on what everyone is doing…I want to live up to people’s expectations, which is something that I need to get over, but I’m also scared that, I don’t know, maybe someone will get to know me too well and realize that I’m not all that.”
The former Disney Channel child star admitted, “The kind words that I hear that they say about me through other people are unbelievable to me. I feel like just the people in my life see me in a way that I don’t really see myself…I am so fearful of disappointing the people in my life, or even people in public.”
In turn, Ortega is selective with projects, denying roles like “being the sidekick who carries the Puerto Rican flag on her shoulder and makes it her entire personality,” according to the actress.
“I feel like it’s always the ‘bratty teen,’ the ‘bad-mouthed teen,’ or a lot of times ‘unintelligent,’ which I don’t think is true,” Ortega shared. “I think it’s hard, too, nowadays with all this new lingo coming around but I feel like my generation, because there is so much accessible to them on the Internet, there’s just more opportunities for them to learn. I wish they were given a bit more credit. We can be smart sometimes.”
Ortega previously said, “I really see my young generation taking more control of themselves in the industry — whether it’s learning to write sooner, direct sooner, or produce sooner. I think it’s really empowering and important because, right now, teenage voices are still being told in the majority by older white males. The more that happens, we’ll acknowledge that girls are much more than a lame stereotype.”