Fighting For a Name in a Man’s World


Actresses like McKenna Grace (Left), Isabela Merced (Middle) and Jenna Ortega (Right), have been in Hollywood for quite some time, so why don’t very many people know who they are? photo created by Isabella Petry

Isabella Petry, Reporter

Famous names like Linsey Lohan, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie and even Millie Bobby Brown are known to people all over the world who have watched television. These actresses have made their mark on Hollywood in hopes of building their careers as well as paving the way for new talent, but that may be harder than it seems, Especially for women in the industry.

Actresses like 16-year-old McKenna Grace has been making her way through Hollywood since she was only four years old. She has been in big-budget films and TV shows such as Gifted, in which she starred as Chris Evans’s prodigy niece, Ghostbusters Afterlife, the newest sequel of the original Ghostbusters movies and starred in TV shows like Young Sheldon and Fuller House. In addition, she has played the younger version of several famous faces including, Tonya Harding, Jennifer Morrison, Brie Larson, Kiernan Shipka and Margot Robbie. Grace has been in more projects than people twice her age but doesn’t get as much recognition for the work she puts in.

“Grace, who was 9 when she shot ‘Gifted,’ knows there are obvious parallels in the film to the life of a successful child actor, especially the notion that taking advantage of a kid’s preternatural talents can end up robbing them of a regular, everyday childhood.” Variety News said.

Though Grace herself doesn’t believe she has had that kind of experience, she does acknowledge that it happens.

Young actors are often expected to grow up sooner than other children, these differences can also lead to child actors wanting to be more sexualized in the spotlight to support their brand.

“Women are more sexualized in television than men,” Katharine Tyson (‘26) said. “It used to be that women had to be sexualized to get their names out there, but now in the 21st-century women don’t need to offer themselves up to get roles, they can do that on talent alone.” 

Another big example of sexualization is from a panel with the stars of ‘Avengers Infinity War.’ where Scarlett Johannson was asked more questions related to body image than any other male actor on the stage.

“I remember when I saw a video about ‘The Avengers’ and the male actors were asked what they thought about their role and the female actress (Scarlett Johannson) was asked about the diet she used to fit into her outfit.” Victoire Bourdin de Bechillon (‘25) said.

Isabela Merced, a 21-year-old actress who got her start on Nickelodeon at 13, starring in projects like 100 Things to do Before High School and Legend of the Hidden Temple. Now that she’s older, she has moved on to bigger roles, starring in the Romeo & Juliet remake told from Romeo’s ex-girlfriend’s perspective, Roseline. This project made her the first ever Latina Juliet. She also starred in the drama movie Sweet Girl with Aquaman star Jason Mamoa and who can forget her reimagining of Dora the Explorer in Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Merced has played one of the most iconic characters in television history, but if someone were to say her name how many people would know who she was.

Merced has faced several challenges in her career, including her struggles with self-worth, body image and even the struggle to learn English as a fluent Spanish speaker.

“Our only enemy is misogynistic men,” Merced said in an interview with Cultura Shock. Merced has spoken out multiple times on the prejudices she has faced being Peruvian-American in the industry, as well as the impact she wishes to have on young girls like her.

Many students believe there is a big difference between being a male and female on the stage and on screen.

“There is a lot more competition for women, and sadly they have to work much harder to get roles than their male co-stars who have less potential and credentials.” Thespian Madison Anderson (‘26) said. 

Before her breakout role as Wednesday Addams on the Netflix show where she played the titular character Wednesday, Jenna Ortega had starred in several other movies and TV shows. Before getting her first big break on the Disney Channel as Inventor Harley Diaz, she was on the Netflix show Richie Rich and had a guest appearance as the president’s daughter in Iron Man 3. Following her Disney career, she quickly got into the horror genre, starring in the Scream franchise, the movie X and Babysitter Killer Queen. This isn’t even the tip of Jenna Ortega’s fame, but before Wednesday, she was practically nameless.

Lately, Jenna Ortega has been facing backlash for her recent comments about changing lines in the show Wednesday to better fit the character.

“Her being in a love triangle made no sense,” Ortega said about a line in the script. “There’s times on that set where I became almost unprofessional in a sense, where I just started changing lines.” 

Actor Henry Cavill, most known for his role in Superman, did a similar thing when he starred in The Witcher, but instead of the intense backlash being received by Ortega, he received praise for taking hold of the movie to make it relate more to the book it was based on. The backlash presented to Jenna Ortega just shows the treatment between males and females.

 Mckenna Grace, Isabela Merced and Jenna Ortega are just examples of the hard work it takes to get your name out there in Hollywood, especially as a woman. They have to work five times harder to get paid five times less. It is time young female actresses get the recognition they deserve and for new actresses to join the ranks as some of the best actors of all time.