EXCLUSIVE: Jenna Ortega on 'Stuck in the Middle' and Why Gina Rodriguez is Her Idol

Jenna Ortega Stuck in the Middle Exclusive Interview
Vince Trupsin

Have you met the adorable Jenna Ortega? If you're a fan of Jane the Virgin, you certainly have. The spunky 13-year-old plays young Jane Villenueva, bringing life to every flashback moment on The CW's hit series.

Now Ortega is also shifting into her own spotlight with a starring role in Disney Channel's Stuck in the Middle. The California-born actress plays Harley, a creative and engineering whiz kid who is navigating life as the middle child in a family of seven kids. We caught up with Ortega to get the scoop on what it's been like working with Gina Rodriguez, how she and her Stuck in the Middle character relate, and more.

MORE: Jane the Virgin is Coming Back for a Third Season!

Read it all in our exclusive interview below:

How did you first get into acting?

I started begging my mom to let me act when I was 6 years old. She pretty much ignored me because she thought it was just a phase. Two years later, when I still wanted to do it, she started taking it more seriously. Facebook helped me get my first agent. My mom posted a video of me doing a dramatic monologue and a friend of hers from high school forwarded it to an agent. Three months later, I got my first audition and the rest is history!

What was it like working on Jane the Virgin with Gina Rodriguez? Any funny stories from set?

Working on Jane was so cool! Gina is amazing, so I was honored to get to play the younger version of her. My favorite days were the table read days because everyone was there. The writing was is so funny, we would spend some time laughing together because it was too funny not to. One of the funny memories I have was with Jaime Camil. He is a comedian all the time. He asked me if I liked going to Disneyland and I said that it was ok, but the lines were too long. He started singing in his opera voice to me that his Disneyland was better than my Disneyland and that he was going to take me one day to prove it.

Who are some actors you look up to and why?

I look up to Gina Rodriguez because, like me, she did not have a connection to the business. We are both Latinas who do not come from money and did not have an easy way in. She speaks openly about the challenges of being a Latina actress and how Latin actors are not represented on screen the way they should be. She has proven that hard work pays off and I admire that.

What's it like to play the role of Harley Diaz on Stuck in the Middle? Do you come from a big family like her? What are some things you relate to most when it comes to this character?

Playing Harley Diaz is awesome because I relate to her a lot. It is like I am playing myself! We both are middle children in a big family, we both can be goofballs, we both love our families and we both love math and science.

You're voicing Princess Isabel in Elena of Avalor, what’s it like for you to be part of a series that shows off Disney’s first Latina princess?

Being able to play a Disney princess is a dream come true. It is even cooler because she is Latina, so little Hispanic girls like me can finally relate to a Disney princess! I am so honored they picked me to be a part of the cast of Elena of Avalor.

What are some things you want our readers and your fans to know about you that they might not?

That I am just a regular kid! I still do my chores, go to my siblings' athletic games, and I still hang out with my friends.

PLUS: Everything You Need to Know About Jenna Ortega's Elena of Avalor Character

What else do you want to do when you grow up, or are you already living your lifetime dream?

Right now I am focused on being Harley, but I would really like to get some lead roles in big feature films in the near future. When I grow up I would like to get into directing, writing, producing, and still act!