Jenna Ortega Praises Netflix For Embracing Hispanic Heritage

Wednesday star Jenna Ortega is thankful Netflix is allowing the series to embrace its Hispanic heritage and origins.

By Vic Medina | Published

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Jenna Ortega in Wednesday (Netflix)

Netflix’s new series Wednesday, a reimagining of The Addams Family, is a smash hit for the streaming service, ranking as the #1 series since its premiere on November 23 (which was a Wednesday, not coincidentally). The streaming service is also winning raves from the series’ star, Jenna Ortega. According to a report by NME, the 20-year-old California native is grateful Netflix allowed the show to embrace the show’s Hispanic heritage.

Jenna Ortega (Scream) was pleased her character (and her family) were kept Hispanic, rather than attempt to neuter her ethnicity in the wake of her character’s creepy, gothic behavior. “It was also really wonderful to make her Hispanic. I think that was a really cool decision on Netflix’s part and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to (give back to) young girls that look like me because it was definitely harder growing up (without Hispanic role models).”

The Addams Family was first introduced in the 1930s in The New Yorker Magazine, in a series of cartoons drawn by artist Charles Addams. As he named the family after himself, they initially had no overt Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, other than their signature black hair. The Addams Family’s Hispanic heritage was truly introduced with the 1960’s television series, wherein star John Astin changed the character’s first name from Repelli to Gomez, so he could inject a “Latin lover” element into his portrayal.

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Jenna Ortega in Wednesday (Netflix)

From there, the Hispanic legacy of Gomez Addams continued, as Raul Julia (a Puerto Rico native) played Gomez in the 1991 film version. Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) a Guatemalan native, voiced Gomez in the 2019 and 2021 films.

For the Netflix series, the entire family embraces a Hispanic heritage. Luis Guzmán (a Puerto Rico native) is Gomez, and has an uncanny resemblance to the original cartoon version of the character. Catherine Zeta-Jones, who is Welsh, plays Morticia, and since the actress’s exotic looks have allowed her to play Hispanic characters before (most notably as Elena in the Antonio Banderas Zorro films), she easily fills the role here.

Isaac Ordonez, who plays Pusgley, is reportedly of Mexican heritage, and Jenna Ortega is of Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage.

Produced by Tim Burton (The Nightmare Before Christmas), Wednesday is described as a supernatural mystery, as Ortega’s character attends Nevermore Academy, her parents’ alma mater, where she sets out to solve a series of grisly murders by a strange creature, while she is having visions of a psychic nature. While there, she also becomes involved in solving a mystery involving her parents dating back 25 years.

“It’s not often that you get the opportunity to play such an iconic character,” Jenna Ortega said. “There were challenges along the way, but we wanted to make this an interesting new version.” The actress seems born to play Wednesday: she recently admitted in an interview that as a child, the former Disney star often performed autopsies on small dead animals she would find outside.

Wednesday also stars Gwendoline Christie as principal Larissa Weems, Riki Lindhome as Dr. Valerie Kinbott, Jamie McShane as Sheriff Donovan Galpin, and Christina Ricci, a former Wednesday actress herself, now playing Marilyn Thornhill. Among the actors playing the students at Nevermore are Johnna Dias-Watson as Divina, Percy Hynes White as Xavier Thorpe, Emma Myers as Enid Sinclair, and Joy Sunday as Bianca Barclay.