Jenna Ortega is highlighting the importance of young people of color seeing diverse families onscreen. In her new movie, Yes Day, out March 12 on Netflix, Ortega plays Katie Torres, a rebellious daughter who is tired of hearing her mom and dad, played by Jennifer Garner and Édgar Ramirez, tell her "no." While the film is about these hard-pressed parents giving their three kids a "Yes Day," during which the kids have 24 hours to make the rules, it's also about showing audiences a family that is very much like theirs at home.
In an interview with ET last month, Ortega opened up about the film and her hopes that seeing diverse families like the Torres' onscreen become the norm.
"I think it’s important because I feel like we’re getting to a time where that’s most families. Like, I feel like a lot of families are mixed in one way or another," Ortega shared.
"I think because Hollywood has been lacking on its representation of diversity and just showing people with different cultural backgrounds onscreen, I feel like sometimes they go hard one way or the other. It’s either no diversity or it's just forcing it and pushing it too much," she added.
The 18-year-old actress stressed that showcasing differences over similarities is what causes division in and outside of film.
"I feel like when we make it such a division between the two, we’re kind of dividing and separating ourselves even more," she noted. "So, when we show it in a casual setting where it’s acknowledged, but not to an extent where they’re shoving it down your throat, it’s very normal and it’s very fun and it’s very united and sweet."
Most importantly, the representation seen in Yes Daygives young people of color a chance to see themselves onscreen.
"I think that could be a really good thing for young people of color to see, not only for representation of themselves, but then also just having something to relate to and also making diversity onscreen a lot more casual," she said.
While Ortega's character is sometimes combative with her mother in the film, her experience with Garner was anything but. The Scream 5 star called Garner "open and nurturing" and revealed that her own mother was excited for the 13 Going on 30 star to be playing Ortega's mother in the film.
"She loves Jennifer as well, and she especially loves how open and nurturing she is in her real life," Ortega shared. "She's very much like a mother figure and I think my mom thinks that she’s a really great role model and as do I, so I think that me working with Jennifer and having that experience with her, really made my mom happy. I think she liked that. She was proud of that."
Ortega shared that she learned a lot about being "a good person" through her work with Garner.
"She handles herself so eloquently and is so classy and well-reserved. I think she’s a very admirable woman in that sense and is so charitable," she gushed. "I learned a lot more about character traits and just being a good person from her more than anything.”
For one of the film's Yes Dayactivities, the Torres family rode a pretty terrifying roller coaster, but no one was quite as scared as Garner. The You actress said that music had to be added to the scene to cover Garner's screaming and shouting.
"I love roller coasters. And it’s funny, because in the script, it was written as her character is supposed to love the rollercoaster too, and my character, Katie, is supposed to almost be intimidated by how much she’s loving it because I’m trying to get her to say ‘no,’ the whole day, but Jen just was not having it," Ortega revealed. "So, she just broke character immediately and was screaming and shouting my real name. They put music over that part of the film so you can’t hear her shouting ‘Jenna!’ It was really, really funny.”
Garner even shared the BTS moment from the amusement park on her Instagram while filming.