Imagine being the middle sister of not one big family, but two! Thirteen-year-old Jenna Ortega can relate to Harley Diaz, the character she plays on Stuck in the Middle, because just like Harley, Jenna has a lot of siblings (five, to be exact)!
And there is never a dull moment in either of her families...
DG: Harley is the “glue” of her family. What’s your role in yours?
JO: In my family, I am considered to be the one who calls people out when they do something wrong. I look at it as trying to bring out the best in them.
DG: What is your relationship with them like?
JO: My family is really close. I share a room with my 11-year-old sister, Aliyah, but some nights, all of us end up sleeping in the same room. My parents think we’re crazy when we all pile into one bed and fall asleep watching movies. One perk of being in a big family is that if I’m mad at one of them, I have four more to hang out with. The downside is that sometimes we all gang up on one member of the family. When you’re the one that everyone is mad at, it’s not fun!
DG: Is there any sibling rivalry in the Ortega house?
JO: We battle over the bathroom. There are three bathrooms in our house, but we all love hot showers, and the last Ortega in doesn’t get one! We also fight over the last bite of ice cream, cookies, or any other junk food in the kitchen. There’s nothing like getting home and thinking you’re going to eat leftover pizza, and then finding out that your brother already ate it all.
DG: What’s your advice on surviving in a big family?
JO: The key is being flexible. If you get your heart set on getting your way all the time, you’re going to end up upset. All my siblings are involved in extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, sometimes our activities overlap and our parents miss something. We have to be understanding of our circumstances. We all had to learn to share at a young age, and for the most part, we’re good at it...except when it comes to pizza.
DG: How do your parents keep you all in line?
JO: My parents don’t mess around when it comes to following the rules, being truthful, and getting good grades.
DG: What’s it like being part of a Latino family?
JO: When I think about what it’s like growing up Latino, two things come to mind: overprotective parents and lots of family. I have so many relatives that I have never even met. Many of them live in a ranch near Mazatlan [Mexico]; others are in New York and Puerto Rico.
DG: What are some of your family traditions that pay respect to your heritage?
JO: I was born in America, but I am also both Puerto Rican and Hispanic. We always have piñatas for birthday parties and a family gathering on Christmas Eve that includes tamales, a fresh pot of beans, and Christmas cookies for dessert. The cookies are regular sugar cookies frosted with extra sprinkles.
DG: How would you describe yourself at home?
JO: Off camera, I’m a big dork!
You can catch Stuck In The Middle on the Disney Channel, Fridays at 9 p.m.