Jenna Ortega Weeps Discussing Social Media Pressures With Elle Fanning

in Entertainment, Movies & TV

Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams in Wednesday with trees in the background

Credit: Netflix

Social media has turned many things on their heads, and the acting industry is not immune. Two young actresses, Elle Fanning of Disney’s Maleficent and Hulu’s The Great, and Jenna Ortega of Netflix’s Wednesday, recently discussed how it had affected their careers – perhaps more negatively than positively.

For her part, Fanning – whose older sister was a child actress as well – described a time when she lost out on a part simply because she did not have enough Instagram followers.

I didn’t get a part once because I didn’t have enough followers. They’re like, “You were great — but your numbers.”

elle fanning as aurora in disney's maleficent
Credit: Disney

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Ortega commiserated, saying that after Wednesday blew up, suddenly, the following count on her own Instagram became of the utmost importance when she was in audition rooms.

When I was auditioning, they would come to my team: “We like her, but we just don’t know if she has enough of a name.”

This mentality, however, carries a trap – it encourages parasocial relationships and almost forces actors to live their whole lives in the public eye if they want to be able to land roles – essentially making being the paparazzi for yourself a full-time job requirement.

Elle Fanning and Jenna Ortega Discuss the Unique Dangers of Social Media

Jenna Ortega dancing as Wednesday Addams in 'Wednesday'
Credit: Netflix

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Elle Fanning recalls that Disney once made her take a class on building followers and promoting her shows as a child.

It gets ugly. When I was younger, they would take us to media training — Disney 101 or something like that — where they would say, “You’re going to post three times a day. This is how you build followers, engage, promote our show.” You could go into an audition or meeting, and it was “How many followers do you have?”

This means that the incredibly personal choice of how and when to participate in social media is now being made for young actors by their studios. (This overstep may be one of many factors contributing to the strike looming for SAG-AFTRA.)

The problem with this is that social media can be incredibly cruel, especially to actors and stars, who are often made subject to every extreme of treatment, from death threats to unsettling obsession.

Jenna Ortega Breaks Down in Tears in the Middle of Social Media Discussion

Wednesday
Credit: Netflix

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It also means people will judge and watch your every move – something Jenna Ortega is all too familiar with. She got tearful and, at one point in the interview, had to stop and be comforted by Fanning as she admitted:

And social media, what it does to anyone our age, it’s such a comparing game. It influences bandwagon mentality. It’s very manipulative. After the show, I’m nervous to post or even say anything on there or even be myself…because I naturally tend to be sarcastic or dry, it’s very easy for me to find myself in trouble…They see your vulnerability and twist it in a way that you don’t always expect.

Ortega actually started to cry here and stopped to apologize to Fanning, who quickly assured her that she understood completely – no need for an apology for this show of vulnerability.

Ortega’s struggle speaks to the strange dichotomy that everyone faces when creating a public face for themselves – you want to be open and vulnerable with the world. Still, there will always be people who want to take advantage of this vulnerability in some form.

For celebrities, however, it is that much worse because their jobs and lives have somehow come to hang in the balance.

It’s such a hard thing to balance. Because how do you be honest without jeopardizing your own health and safety? It’s very easy to feel almost out of control.

Fanning agreed and offered this sage advice to her tearful friend:

You have to protect yourself, and also just know when to put it away and know it doesn’t matter. That’s not the real world.

What do you think of the rising necessity of a social media presence in certain industries? Chime in in the comments below.

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