Jenna Ortega quickly became a household name last November when her fan-favorite Netflix series, Wednesday, started streaming. Before her starring role as Wednesday Addams, Ortega had a career on multiple Disney projects. She played Harley Diaz on the Disney Channel show Stuck in the Middle and voiced Princess Isabel in Disney’s Elena of Avalor. She also played the Vice President’s Daughter in Iron Man 3!
In a recent interview for Variety’s Actors on Actors series, Jenna Ortega sat down with another Disney alum, Elle Fanning, to talk about the industry. Fanning most notably played the live-action Princess Aurora in Maleficent in 2014 and the 2019 sequel.
On the topic of the role of social media platforms in their careers, Jenna drops this bomb,
When I first started acting, it was told to me by my first agency that I had to have a public platform. When I did television shows when I was younger, they’d take us to media training, or they would call it Disney 101. Where you would go, and they would give you a notebook and pens and pencils and paper.
They would say, ‘Okay, you’re gonna post three times a day. This is how you get the most engagement. This is how you get likes. This is how you build followers. Download these apps as well…promote our show. So you know it became a business. I would go into some sort of audition or meeting, and it was, ‘How many followers do you have?’
Elle Fanning agreed and admitted that she also didn’t get a part once because she didn’t have enough followers on social media. Fanning adds, “You were great…but your numbers.”
Even after shooting Wednesday, Jenna Ortega’s platform numbers came into question at certain auditions. Producers wondered if she was “enough of a name.”
Ortega and Fanning’s conversation revealed that Disney starts training child actors young on the value of social media to their worth in the business. Luckily, both Jenna and Elle have successful careers, but clearly feel unhappy with the weight their platforms were given in their professional endeavors.
Does Disney have a responsibility to the mental health of their child stars, or are they a business that is allowed to put profit first?
See the video here:
“When I first started acting, it was told to me by my agency that I had to have a public platform,” says Jenna Ortega. “When I did television shows when I was younger, they’d take us to media training, or Disney 101.” https://t.co/MqDrkNvpc6 pic.twitter.com/57io92UIQV— Variety (@Variety) June 7, 2023