Over the course of the last year, Jenna Ortega has become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, becoming the latest in an endless stream of young actresses to become the latest ‘it girl’ thanks to her performance as the titular protagonist in Netflix’s The Addams Family memberberry-meal, Wednesday.
In the wake of her recent success, a puzzling narrative has grown over the last month that Ortega has been a victim of cancel culture.
An idea stemming from the actress herself, this narrative has even gained traction among right-wing content creators, many of whom have assumed that she has drawn the ire of the public due to her Henry Cavill-esque desire to stay true to Wednesday‘s source material and stand up for the integrity of the show’s passionate fan base.
Of course, this entire story is a complete lie.
To be fair, let’s not blame the aforementioned content creators for buying into this line. They don’t know the whole story surrounding Ortega’s past relationship with cancel culture and internet toxicity.
In fact, few people do, as everything took place before she became a megastar.
Let’s rewind a little bit to give context.
With its release in November 2022, Wednesday was a massive hit with younger demographics, all of whom gave the show a big boost on social media platforms and subsequently catapulted Ortega into being a Hollywood name in a very short period of time.
But shortly after the show’s release, Ortega found herself in hot water with its writers, revealing on a March episode of Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast that this divide between the two camps came about because she continually pushed back against the latter’s nonsensical material.
“There were times on that set where I almost became unprofessional in a sense, where I just started changing lines,” she explained. “The script supervisor thought that I was like, going with something, and then I would have to sit down with the writers and they would be like, ‘Wait, what happened to this scene?’ And I would have to go through and explain why I couldn’t do certain things.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had to put my foot down on a set in the way that I had to on Wednesday,” she continued. “Everything that she does, everything that I had to play, did not make sense for her character at all.”
“Her being in a love triangle made no sense,” the series star further noted, earning herself the admiration of many an audience member. “There was a line about a dress that she has to wear for a school dance and she said, ‘Oh my God, I love it. Ugh, I can’t believe I said that, I literally hate myself.’ And I had to go, ‘No.’”
Her profile and reputation now firmly established in Hollywood, Ortega was eventually invited to speak with Elle Fanning for Variety’s Actors-on-Actors interview series, wherein she would opine that, “social media, what it does to anyone our age, it’s such a comparing game. It influences bandwagon mentality. It’s very manipulative.”
“They see your vulnerability and twist it in a way that you don’t always expect,” she continued, proceeding to turn on the water works. “It’s so strange. Sorry, I didn’t mean to do this. It’s such a hard thing to balance. Because how do you be honest without jeopardising your own health and safety? It’s very easy to feel almost out of control.”
But here’s the thing: For all her pearl clutching, Ortega seems to forget the fact that her career was launched by publicly throwing a former co-star under the bus on Twitter.
Aside from Wednesday, many might remember Ortega from her time on the Disney Channel show Stuck in the Middle, a series she co-led with fellow actress Ronni Hawk. While the show was fairly successful, lasting a total of 57 episodes across three seasons, things did not end well between the two co-stars, due mainly to Ortega’s reaction to Hawk’s social media history.
In 2018, Hawk became the subject of social media ridicule for both following then-President Donald Trump on Twitter and responding to calls for gun control from left-wing activists following the Parkland High School Shooting – which saw 17 teenagers killed by fellow student Nikolas Jacob Cruz – by voicing support for Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
“Listennnnn y’all,” wrote the actress on February 16th. “Yes, this shooting was horrific, tragic event but yelling at our government WILL NOT HELP US!!!!”
“Does anyone remember when alcohol was banned then everyone started underground selling,” she added in a follow-up tweet, “guns will be the same; WE need to protect ourselves.”
Of course, Hawk’s views were deemed unacceptable by the terminally online left, who proceeded to spend months demanding that the actress apologize for her comments – and in some cases, even calling for her to be outright fired from her Disney show.
As she was being smeared as a ‘Right-Wing Extremist’ online, Hawk attempted to stay in Disney’s good graces by issuing a public apology for her posts.
“I apologize for my delay in responding to the most important people in my life – my fans,” she wrote. ” To be honest I’m nervous to speak up knowing whatever I write at this point won’t make everyone happy.”
“The truth is I was 16 years old when I put that post out there and at 18 I now know I was not informed enough on several subjects to be posting blindly,” Hawk continues. “What I do know is that being on the show has been one of the most special things in my life and I do not take it for granted. I learned so much from this show about injustices that take place in the world and that being silent is just as bad as doing nothing. So to my fans I’m deeply sorry if I offended any of you. I promise that in the future I will not make statements without being fully informed. ”
In the end, shortly after Hawk published her post, Disney canceled Stuck in the Middle after three seasons.
Unfortunately for Hawk, her naive belief that an apology would make everything go away only led to the actress drawing even more anger on social media – including, you guessed it, that of her own co-star.
Two days after Hawk apologized for her beliefs, Ortega decided to throw a can of gasoline on the bonfire and publicly decry her co-star not only as a Trump supporter, but also, you guessed it again, a racist.
And while she refrained from specifically naming Hawk in her rantings, fans of Stuck in the Middle knew right away who Ortega was talking about.
“When someone says they hope Trump builds a wall that Mexican should be deported because they’re taking educational funds from white people just because they’re minorities.. and then they go to claim their Latina when it works for them,” Ortega tweeted, ostensibly calling into question Hawk’s own claimed Latina heritage. “Smh.”
In a follow-up tweet, Ortega further buried her relationship with Hawk, asserting, “When you say all Mexicans are gardeners to my face and A Mexican and yet you have the privilege to play one on TV. yes I said privilege.”
As social media proceeded to have a field day with the rift between the two actresses, this incident would go on to have a catastrophic effect on Hawk’s career.
Since her removal from Stuck in the Middle, the actress hasn’t been involved in any major projects, with her resume in the proceeding years consisting only of a recurring role in the first season of Hulu’s On My Block and minor guest parts on CBS’ S.W.A.T. and The CW’s Legacies.
In the eyes of many, her career had been punished simply because she was a Trump supporter. This theory is given further credence by the fact that this incident had the opposite effect on Ortega’s career, landing her leading parts in such high-profile projects as Scream VI and, of course, Wednesday.
Now that we know the full story, Ortega’s cries of ‘toxic fan bases’ and ‘cancel culture’ fall flat in light of how she previously used them to her benefit. Of course, this fact hasn’t stopped her from claiming to be the victim.
Just look at how she opened her thoughts on the subject during her interview with Fanning: “Social Media, what it does to anyone our age, it’s such a comparing game, it influences bandwagon mentality. It’s very manipulative.”
That’s a very ironic statement coming from someone who used social media to destroy the career of her co-star.
And before you begin to feel too bad for Miss Ortega, just know that right before Variety premiered her episode of Actors-on-Actors, it was announced that she had been bumped up to the role of producer for the second season of Wednesday.
The woman who went to war with her writers now has the producer credits and behind-the-scenes power to back up her vision of how Wednesday will be portrayed moving forward. If this is the fallout of cancel culture, then sign me up.
To pretend that Ortega is a victim of the Hollywood system or social media in any way, shape, or form is funnier than any Dave Chappelle stand-up bit you can think of.