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Jenna Ortega Is Tired of ‘Unintelligent Teens’ in Movies and TV: ‘We Can Be Smart Sometimes’

"I wish they were given a bit more credit," Ortega said of teenagers onscreen.

Jenna Ortega at the 25th SCAD Savannah Film Festival

Jenna Ortega at the 25th SCAD Savannah Film Festival

Getty Images for SCAD

Jenna Ortega is convinced Gen Zers are woefully underserved onscreen.

The “Wednesday” star clapped back at the stereotypes of adolescents in film and TV shows, unpacking the assumptions behind particular labels that adolescents are inherently “unintelligent.”

“I think for me, because I look a bit younger, I’ve been acting for a little over a decade now, so I’ve just been a teenager pretty much in stories,” Ortega said during the “Hot Ones” YouTube series. “I feel like it’s always the ‘bratty teen,’ the ‘bad-mouthed teen,’ or a lot of times ‘unintelligent,’ which I don’t think is true.”

The “Scream VI” actress continued, “I think it’s hard, too, nowadays with all this new lingo coming around but I feel like my generation, because there is so much accessible to them on the Internet, there’s just more opportunities for them to learn. I wish they were given a bit more credit. We can be smart sometimes.”

Ortega previously called out the need for younger creatives to take charge, especially when it comes to authentically writing youthful roles onscreen.

“I really see my young generation taking more control of themselves in the industry — whether it’s learning to write sooner, direct sooner, or produce sooner,” Ortega told Who What Wear in October 2022. “I think it’s really empowering and important because, right now, teenage voices are still being told in the majority by older white males.”

The “X” star continued, “The more that happens, we’ll acknowledge that girls are much more than a lame stereotype.”

Ortega especially praised Netflix’s “You” set for being especially “empowering” to her during her Season 2 stint as Joe Goldberg’s (Penn Badgley) confidante Ellie.

“My voice was heard and that was very empowering to me because I’ve been on sets where being a young woman of color, I don’t always get a say in what my character is doing or what’s happening on screen, but I was very included on the set and that was really nice,” Ortega told Teen Vogue at the time. “I love it when it can be a collaboration [where] everybody’s working, it’s not just solely one person. It was very freeing as an artist.”

Ortega was supposed to reprise her role in Season 4 of the thriller series but “Wednesday” production got in the way. The star admitted she was “devastated” she could not film both projects simultaneously, but hinted she may be back for Season 5.

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