For Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, published on Wednesday, June 7, the Scream 6 star, 20, and the Girl From Plainville alum, 25, spoke in depth about their experiences navigating Hollywood in the face of stardom at a young age — particularly when it comes to Instagram.
Though Ortega has been acting since she was a child — and has a starring role in the Scream franchise — it wasn’t until Wednesday premiered in November 2022 that the Netflix star noticed “a very obvious shift in my life, maybe three days after the show came out.”
For Fanning, who, like Ortega, has been in the spotlight since she was a young girl, social media “can get toxic,” she told the X actress — who immediately agreed.
“Yeah, it gets ugly,” Ortega shared, explaining that she was under intense pressure to build her following from a young age.
“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,’” she recalled. “You could go into an audition or meeting, and it was, ‘How many followers do you have?’”
It wasn’t just the industry that wanted perfection, Ortega noted. “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 really nervous to post or even say anything on there or even be myself because I feel like —“
“It could be misinterpreted,” Fanning interjected.
“Yeah. Because I naturally tend to be sarcastic or dry, it’s very easy for me to find myself in trouble. I want people to be able to get to know the people behind the camera and realize that people should never be put on a pedestal,” Ortega agreed, tearing up.
“And the more I’ve been exposed to the world, people prey on that and take advantage of that. They see your vulnerability and twist it in a way that you don’t always expect,” she said while crying, apologizing for her tears. “It’s so strange. Sorry, I didn’t mean to do this.”
The California native revealed that she struggles with how to “balance” her online presence, wanting to “be honest without jeopardizing [my] own health and safety,” she said. “It’s very easy to feel almost out of control.”
In striving to be “human and honest and authentic,” Ortega admonished the “gross” requirements from Hollywood.
“Another thing about this industry is you get in front of a camera and people want you to be something else — where it’s ‘Have more energy’ or ‘Could you smile?’ and it just feels gross. And I don’t want to feel gross,” she explained. “I would rather people see me cry and do whatever than be something I’m not.”