Previewing the return of JANE THE VIRGIN with Jenna Ortega

Jenna Ortega photographed by Isa Battaglin, LILLYK Photography

Jenna Ortega photographed by Isa Battaglin, LILLYK Photography

JANE THE VIRGIN returns tonight for what I’m sure will be a super emotional third season as Jane explores what happens after she gets married.  Oh and that little thing like will her husband live to see the rest of their wedding night, let alone married life?

I spent some time talking about the return of the series with young Jane, Jenna Ortega, and she promises we’re in for some good stuff this season!

Excited for season three of Jane the Virgin. I’m counting the hours at this point.
It’s going to be intense.

What’s it like being a part of this show, being part of Villanueva family? What’s it like playing young Jane?
Well, playing young Jane is an honor. I love Gina Rodriguez. She is so talented and I’m so grateful that Jenny Urman gave me this job. Being a part of the Villanueva family is such an amazing feeling because all the girls on and off set have such a tight bond. I’m not there every day, but luckily they’ve kind of put me into their group, so I feel at home and I feel very comfortable when I go to the set. Everyone’s very kind and sweet and I love it there.

What I love is that you and Gina, you have the same way you act and the way you move. Is there work that you have to put in to play the same way Gina does it?
I guess for me, I just watch the show because since I’m not there every episode, I miss certain things. I’ll find something out but then I won’t know anything that happens for the next four episodes. I kind of try to keep up with the show. I like watching Gina anyways, because I want to learn from her because she’s such a great actress. I figured if I’m young Jane, maybe if I watch what Gina does, like her little habits, then maybe I could add those little habits into my acting.

What can you kind of tease for us or tell us what we might expect from season three. Will it differ a lot from what we’ve seen before?
Well … When I read the script, I just about dropped it. It is so so crazy, but it’s so so good at the same time, like I couldn’t stop reading it. I had to read it all in one sitting. You could definitely see a lot more opportunities for some power house acting. There’s a lot of intense moments that make Jane feel emotional. You could definitely expect big plot twists from this season I think.  I’m trying not to give anything away because I don’t know.

No exactly, and that’s one of the things that I think people love about the show. You never know where the show is going in the best way.

It’s so hard to talk about it because you want to tell everything because you’re so excited about it, but then it’s like, audiences want to see it.

That has to be exciting too, to have those little secrets where you know something’s coming and kind of interacting with the fans and knowing that they’re in for a treat. That has to be an exciting kind of world to be in.
It’s definitely exciting. It’s really funny because my whole family, we like to sit around the TV and watch Jane the Virgin sometimes and I like to look around at the reactions because I already know what’s coming up and they don’t, so I want to see how they react to what’s coming up.

Do you have a lot of interaction with fans? Obviously you have Stuck in the Middle. That also has a great fan base besides the Jane the Virgin fans. Are you hearing from a lot of people? Is there a lot of interaction?
I do actually hear from a lot of people which kind of surprises me because if I’m in an episode it’s for like five minutes. I always know when a Jane the Virgin fan is coming when an adult approaches me because if I get recognized by adults, then that’s from Jane the Virgin. When I get recognized by families or just the kids themselves, then it’s Stuck in the Middle. I do get them more often than I would have thought.

Jenna Ortega photographed by Isa Battaglin, LILLYK Photography

Jenna Ortega photographed by Isa Battaglin, LILLYK Photography

What’s it like to be in that situation where you’re just walking down the street or at the mall, and it’s like, oh hey somebody recognized me. How do you react to that?
It was a little weird for me to get used to at first but now it’s just kind of one of those automatic things where it happens a couple times if I go out. Sometimes it can be kind of crazy because people will call you by your name, so I think that they know me. They’ll be like, “Jenna”, and I’ll turn around and be like, “Hey, wait. I don’t know who you are” [laughs]. Then they’ll introduce themselves and I’ll take a photo with them. I think it’s pretty cool. I’ve worked really hard to get to the position that I’m at now and it’s like being recognized for your work, it makes me feel good. I love meeting people who support the shows because it means a lot to me.

What’s it like to go from a show like Jane the Virgin and to go to the Disney show? Is it a lot of changing how you approach the kind of acting because they’re both so different?
Harley and Jane are pretty different from each other but they’re both single cam shows, which I love about Stuck in the Middle because most of the Disney Channel shows are multi-cam but this one is supposed to be … Stuck in the Middle is supposed to be a more realistic kind of show, like real problems that kids can relate to. They’re similar in that way, but character wise, they are completely different. Jane, for her, I think all I really do is, well, Harley is very expressive, so I try not to be as expressive with Jane and I kind of bring her voice down, make her more soft and shy because that’s kind of how she is when she’s asking about certain things. Yeah, they’re very different so I’ve just got to turn my switch on. Okay, Jane’s off, Harley’s on.

You said it’s kind of a learning experience to work with these actors on Jane the Virgin. Have they given you outright advice? Is there something you’ve asked them, like how do I do this, or what’s the best acting advice you can give me, or is it a lot of just learning on the fly and watching them and seeing what they do?
I haven’t asked them for any advice because when I do see them it’s really short because they’re either running the set or I’m either running the set. The person who has given me advice is Gina because every time we see her we hug, we talk a little bit and a lot of times she tells me to stay grounded, stay true to who I am. She’ll tell me, “Oh this business is crazy and you’ve just got to stay strong for what you believe in. Be yourself because there’s going to be a lot of people who try to change who you are”.

You worked with the Rockettes over the summer? Tell me about your summer and what you did in New York this year.
I found out that I was going to be going out to New York a week before I actually went out to New York [laughs]. I was filming Stuck in the Middle and two days after I filmed Stuck in the Middle, I was flying out to go spend my summer in New York with the Rockettes. I auditioned really quick while I was shooting stuck, actually. The night after work, I flew over to New York and then I flew back that day. After my audition, after Stuck in the Middle wrapped season one, I flew straight over and I started rehearsal for the New York Spectacular with the Rockettes. They have the usual Christmas one but they are trying to bring it in toward the summer time. I think last year they did a spring one. This one was summer. It was a really great experience. I don’t call myself a singer or a dancer. I don’t think it’s something that I would take on professionally when I grow up. You never know, but I had to do that in the show. It was just a really great experience. I’ve never done theater before so it was definitely a whole new world for me. I liked it a lot and if I could go back to Radio City Music Hall and perform there again, I would love to.

Do you have advice for young actors or people who are getting into the biz? What do you say to people a little bit younger than you that say, “How did you get where you are”? Do you have that advice for the younger guys?
Well, for anybody who’s in the business I guess I would have to say that hard work does pay off. There’s going to be a lot of people who try to drag you down, but if I would have listened to them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They’ve just got to push through and keep following their dreams.

Season 3 of JANE THE VIRGIN premieres at 9/8c on The CW.
The season finale of STUCK IN THE MIDDLE aired on The Disney Channel over the summer, and Season 2 will be coming soon!