The overnight success of Netflix’s Wednesday catapulted leading lady Jenna Ortega to superstardom, as viewers worldwide watched the actress transform into the titular Addams Family character. The Tim Burton-led series earned the biggest opening week for an English-language Netflix series with over 411 million hours of watch time, and in doing so, launched Jenna’s Instagram following to over 10 million in just 10 days.
In a candid conversation with Elle Fanning for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, Jenna opened up about the impact of social media on her life and career, and the struggles she’s faced with such a public platform. The actress discussed the “very obvious shift” that occurred three days after Wednesday premiered, and the pressure that the industry places on actors to have a large social media presence.
“Even after shooting ‘Wednesday,’ when I was auditioning, they would come to my team: ‘We like her, but we just don’t know if she has enough of a name.’ And social media, what it does to anyone our age, it’s such a comparing game,” she explained, per Variety. “It influences bandwagon mentality… It’s very manipulative. After the show especially, I’m really nervous to post or even say anything on there or even be myself because I feel like…”
“Misinterpreted,” Elle offered, to which Jenna agreed, adding that — although it’s her true, genuine self — she’s found that her dry sense of humor can be misconstrued or distorted.
“I want people to be able to get to know the people behind the camera and realize that people should never be put on a pedestal,” she continued. “And the more I’ve been exposed to the world, people prey on that and take advantage of that. They see your vulnerability and twist it in a way that you don’t always expect.”
Jenna grew emotional during the convo as she explains the challenge of being authentic and vulnerable on social media while also being in the spotlight.
“It’s such a hard thing to balance. Because how do you be honest without jeopardizing your own health and safety? It’s very easy to feel almost out of control,” she said. “I still have this really intense urge to be human and honest and authentic. Another thing about this industry is you get in front of a camera and people want you to be something else — where it’s ‘Have more energy’ or ‘Could you smile?’ and it just feels gross. And I don’t want to feel gross. I would rather people see me cry and do whatever than be something I’m not.”