Meet Jenna Ortega Star of Disney’s ‘Stuck in the Middle’

Jenna Ortega plays the smart and spunky Harley Diaz, one of seven kids in the Diaz family, on the Disney Channel’s new show “Stuck in the Middle.”

But the teenage actress brings more than just work experience to this character. Ortega is also one of six children in real life, so it’s safe to say she knows what it’s like to be part of a big family!

Jenna Ortega Disney Channel

The 13 year-old hails from the Coachella Valley and started acting in commercials at age 8. She played a young Jane in the Golden Globe-winning series “Jane the Virgin,” was in “C.S.I. NY,”and had small film roles in “Insidious: Chapter 2,” and “Iron Man 3.”

In the upcoming Disney show, Harley Diaz breaks the 4th wall and talks to us about what it’s like for her as she tries to cope with the busy schedule of a large family, and aims to stand out among her siblings.

This is something that felt natural to Ortega since she’s had to do this in her own home as well; knowing this fact doesn’t make Ortega’s new role as Harley Diaz seem coincidental at all.

Jenna Ortega

I caught up with the young actress while she was on a press tour in Miami, and she had a few minutes to chat with me over the phone. During our conversation, I quickly noticed this young girl’s poise and professionalism in the thoughtful way she answered my questions about her upcoming show, balancing family life, work, and school.

SV: How do you cope with living with such a large family IRL? Give us an example of how you cope with a situation with so many brothers and sisters.

JO: One way we cope with each other, is every time we’re in an argument and it’s getting like really intense, we just walk out of the room. We end it right there, and then we laugh about it five minutes later. Or, my mom walks in the room right then and there. Laughs.

SV: Do you have time to do (that horrible word) homework and go to school?

JO: It’s actually really easy because I do it while I’m on set. I’ll do a scene and then they give me time for school. And they have it in the schedule to where I do as much school as any regular kid that goes to school. It’s very easy how they scheduled it — they’re very thoughtful and wise with my time.

SV: What’s your favorite subject at school?

JO: Math and science.

Just like Harley!

JO: Yes! Laughs.

SV: How many auditions did you go to before you got the part?

JO: It took around six auditions.

SV: Is one of your parents always with you when you’re not home?

JO: Usually just mom because my dad has to work during the weekdays .

SV: Who watches your brothers and sisters then?

JO: My older sister is 24 so she can help watch them. My other brother is 18, too.

SV: I understand that you have a couple of your role models: Dakota Fanning and Denzel Washington. And that if you could pick, you would like to be the female version of Washington.

JO: Yes!

SV: By the way, Dakota Fanning went to NYU, and Denzel Washington’s daughter also graduated from NYU, and my daughter goes to NYU.

JO: That’s cool!

SV: What inspires you about Denzel Washington?

JO: The way he performs, I find it very believable. And every time I see him in a movie I fall in love with his character because you can tell he really takes on the character, as if the character was himself.

SV: You just entered your teenage years. Is there something special you’ve been waiting to do now that you are a teenager?

JO: Hmm, well, I guess I thought that since I was a teenager that people would automatically know I was a teenager, and, you know, treat me like I was older. But I’m actually really small for my age and nothing really changed. Laughs

SV: Finally, what do you want kids to take away from the show and Harley?

I want them to know that being interested in different things, or if they’re into the more sophisticated subjects, isn’t wrong because a lot of people think that you’ll be called a nerd, or, you know, things like that. But, really it’s very cool if you’re into that stuff , it will get you far in life. So, don’t be afraid to be different.

“Don’t be afraid to be different.” Jenna Ortega, 13.

What a great answer from a 13-year-old, right? Ortega sounds like she has a good head on her young shoulders (and a great mother, too!). I hope that learning a little bit about Jenna Ortega will make you look at her not just as another Disney actress in “Stuck in the Middle,” but as someone that has potential to become a good role model for kids her age as well.

Stuck in the Middle” premiers on the Disney Channel March 11.


  1. Abbey says:

    Hi I’m Abby I am 10 years old and I was the one doing when did you start filming stuck in the middle because I’m a really really big fan of it and I record all of you and I really love you acting

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