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‘You’ Star Jenna Ortega Wants to Be a Role Model for Young Latinas

The 17-year-old actress is one of Neutrogena's latest brand ambassadors.

It may be Jenna Ortega’s biggest role yet — the 17-year-old actress has featured in the Netflix series “You,” multiple Disney productions and CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” but her latest casting as one of Neutrogena‘s new brand ambassadors puts her on a new level of stardom.

Ortega, along with actress Lana Condor, is one of two Gen Z actresses to be named Neutrogena brand ambassadors, joining the likes of Kerry Washington and Jennifer Garner. In recent years, the brand has skewed its marketing and product development toward a younger consumer, shifting from a focus on antiaging for sensitive skin to gentle products for acne and sun protection.

For Neutrogena, Ortega’s pride of her Mexican and Puerto Rican heritage is an asset in continuing to attract the Hispanic consumer, an important demographic for the brand.

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WWD caught up with Ortega about her latest assignment.

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WWD: So, why Neutrogena?

Jenna Ortega: It’s so crazy because one of the first times my manager asked [about brand deals], I said, “Oh, Neutrogena, hands down.” They’ve always valued beauty from the inside out. In this industry, there’s never been a lot of opportunity for Latinas and people of color in general, so a brand that emphasizes diverse internal beauty and redefining conventional beauty is [one] I’m proud to to [represent]. They’ve made it clear to me that I can be creative — the most important thing for me is expressing myself.

WWD: You are definitely not afraid to express your views on causes that you care about. 

J.O.: Growing up and being part of my generation — [it’s such] an open-minded group of people willing to educate themselves. I’ve always been super adamant about using my voice. A lot of what I’ve been told growing up is that I have to keep options open and I can’t choose sides, just to be open for all brands and opportunities. I was completely scared of saying the wrong thing but as I’ve gotten older and matured, I realize this is my image and if I feel passionate and if I make a statement that comes from the heart, I’ll be fine. If a company doesn’t want me to speak my mind, I don’t know if it’s a company I want to associate with.

WWD: Has your Latinx heritage helped shape you professionally?

J.O.: My heritage influences my desire to speak up — we’re passionate people, we’ll let it be known if something’s on our mind. But in the most loving way possible — that’s my family’s take. Knowing there’s not many prominent members of the Latinx community in Hollywood, or not as many I’d like there to be, it’s important for me to be an example. I want to encourage positive and open conversations. Me being a young Mexican-Puerto-Rican woman an industry that Hispanics have to fight [their way] into, it’s important that I work hard and talk about the things I want to talk about. I want to show them that I’m in control of my situation and know my power and worth. It’s important for young girls to see that.

WWD: And on the opposite end of the spectrum, what about your beauty routine? Has your family and your heritage inspired that?

J.O.: My Tía Emma is an eccentric character — there’s always been tips and tricks, it varies from skin routines to illness. She always has a crazy concoction when it comes to skin and what you should be eating. My mom is very traditional and uses all the same stuff, so it scares her to see me trying new [products] and experimenting. But I’m curious and I want to see what works.

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