Jenna Ortega claimed she improved the work of writers on Wednesday, and is now being mocked by WGA strikers.
When a show is in production, there are often instances in which an actor punches up parts of the script to improve their character. And this is very much the case for Jenna Ortega in her portrayal of Wednesday Adams on her Netflix series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ortega’s statements about her input improving the writing of Wednesday are the subject of several playful jokes and in some cases, ridicule in light of the writers’ strike that started on May 2.
The response to Jenna Ortega’s statement on the Armchair Expert Podcast has been a mixed bag. Writer Karen Joseph Adcock (The Bear) offered words of encouragement by stating that rewriting is still writing before encouraging her to join the strikers at the picket line. Conversely, a picture has surfaced of Brandon Cohen (House Party) holding a picket sign that says, “Without writers, Jenna Ortega will have nothing to punch up!”
But we don’t think that Jenna Ortega meant to stir the pot when she said she helped contribute to the writing on Wednesday. Though she certainly said she took a number of creative liberties with some of her dialogue without first consulting the writing staff, she wasn’t necessarily putting the writers down either. She even went on record stating that her devotion to Wednesday Adam’s character caused her to act unprofessionally in her desire to go against the grain when she felt the urge to do so.
In other words, Jenna Ortega felt protective about her character, and she pushed the writing staff to align with her own perception of Wednesday Adams. This is simply a part of the creative process, especially when a show is in its first couple of seasons. When both the acting talent and writing staff are feeling things out, it’s common to butt heads in an effort to refine the development of a complex character.
One thing worth noting is that Jenna Ortega’s interview was back in March. While it was evident that a potential strike was imminent, the timing of her statement needs the proper context. Though we can see why her statement could ruffle some feathers now that the writers’ strike is underway.
Whether she had good intentions while talking about her experience with the writing staff or not, a perceived slight is still a slight, and people are going to talk about it. With writers banding together to fight for better pay, benefits, and working conditions, it’s easy to see why Jenna Ortega’s interview could cause striking writers to take what she said the wrong way (and rightfully so). But this doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s not an ally, either.
Karen Joseph Adcock has the right idea; Jenna Ortega joining the striking writers in solidarity could only help push things in the right direction. Though there is some backlash stemming from Ortega’s appearance on the Armchair Expert Podcast, it would be easy for her to clear the air if her intentions are pure, and she supports the cause.