Jenna Ortega, not a nepo baby
Jenna Ortega at the 25th SCAD Savannah Film Festival Breakthrough Award presentation. Photo by Did Dipasupil/Getty Images for SCAD.

Jenna Ortega says her turn as Wednesday Addams in the upcoming Netflix series Wednesday is the “scariest” role she’s has ever taken on — but not for the reason you might think.

The 20-year-old actress has become known as the scream queen of her generation, having starred in multiple horror films including Scream (2022), Ti West’s horror-thriller X, and Insidious: Chapter 2. She’s also recently been seen in Netflix’s crime drama You and the school-shooting drama The Fallout. And this year, she appears in two horror comedies — American Carnage and the Foo Fighters’ Studio 666.

For Ortega, starring in Wednesday is scary in a different way than all of those horror films, the actress told an enthusiastic audience full of Gen Z students at Savannah College of Art and Design’s 25th annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival on Monday, where she received the festival’s Breakthrough Award and participated in a Q&A after a screening of Ti West’s gory horror film X.

“It’s probably the scariest job I’ve ever taken on because I know the pressure and respect and love that comes with the Addams Family,” Ortega said. “As an admirer myself, I had to do it.”

Also Read: My Top Five at 25: The SCAD Savannah Film Festival

Ortega, who is of Mexican and Puerto Rican descent, also felt the role offered important representation for the Latinx community.

“I can’t really think of any other Latin characters who have reached the same impact or platform that Wednesday has,” she said.

Ortega also gave a nod to her Wednesday Addams predecessor, Christin Ricci, who played Wednesday in the 1991 Addams Family movie.

“I’ll always kind of see [Ricci] in my head as Wednesday because it’s something about that being my first impression or your first idea of something. It’s very nostalgic. And I think that’s also part of the reason why revivals and reboots are so prominent right now in cinema because that’s what’s getting people out to the theater again — searching for that same feeling that they had when they were younger,” Ortega said.

“The script [of Wednesday] is very reminiscent of Christina’s ’90s take. It’s very interesting because Wednesday wasn’t initially written as sarcastic or deadpan — she was a comic strip, and she’s supposed to be very sweet and sorrowful and, yes, depressing. But there’s a naive nature to her, and I kind of tried to bring that back a little bit and pull from different sources because the only way you can accomplish something like this is [to] kind of challenge what people have already created about her, and also not pull too far from the nostalgic aspect. So it was balancing a lot of different plates.”

Main Image: Jenna Ortega at the 25th SCAD Savannah Film Festival’s Breakthrough Award presentation and screening of Ti West’s X. Photo by Did Dipasupil/Getty Images for SCAD.