'OITNB' Actress Jackie Cruz Opens Up About Diversity, Dating In Hollywood And Her Character 'Flaca' [PHOTOS]

Jackie Cruz
"Orange Is The New Black" actress Jackie Cruz spoke to COMPLEX about her feisty character and boy troubles. Aaron Richter for COMPLEX

The Netflix original hit series “Orange Is The New Black” is all everyone’s talking about lately; especially since the streaming service released its third season earlier than expected, last Thursday. Actress Jackie Cruz is a proud cast member of the show playing her badass character Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales, and says that’s not what drew her to the role, but on the contrary, it was the fact that she is much more than just a “feisty Latina,” (as the show makers described the character). Cruz sat down with COMPLEX’s Lauren Nostro and chatted about stereotypes, bad boys and the general expectations Hollywood has of Latinas.

When the two started talking about her character, who is much like Cruz in terms of her roots, the actress explains why it matters to feel represented. “Just like me, Flaca’s an Americanized Latin girl who speaks Spanish and was born in the States,” she said. It’s important to me that Hollywood is showing that, because—even to this day—I’m auditioning for characters who can’t speak English. It’s like, ‘Oh my god. Still?’” And she makes a great point. In addition to that, her character is also the prison bully, so in an effort to show the many facets of 'Flaca', Cruz has played scenes where she puts herself in a vulnerable places. Her favorite was the one when she kissed Maritza. “She’s always fighting with people or trying to skip the bathroom line, so it was nice to see that she does have a heart,” she explained.

Despite thinking she’d get “eaten alive in jail” for being friendly, unlike her character, Cruz does have similarities with 'Flaca' like their taste in music and dudes. The two have a thing for bad boys, and the actress has used the heartbreaks to her advantage when her character goes through difficult times. “When I did that scene, I was really sad, because my boyfriend at the time wasn’t giving me the attention that I wanted, and he would always leave me,” she remembered. “We give these guys the benefit of the doubt but, in reality, they don’t care about you. You’ll come up with excuses for them. That came from a real place.”

The show probably owes a good chunk of its success to the fact that it portrays regular people. It could be any of us in there, and that’s something Cruz says she’s learned too. “I’ve learned not to judge men and women who are in prison because...you just never know,” she said. “That’s what’s so great about this show and this story: You connect with each and every character, because they’re just normal people, like us.” Check out the full interview here.

Jackie Cruz "OITNB" actress Jackie Cruz. Aaron Richter for COMPLEX Jackie Cruz "OITNB" actress Jackie Cruz. Aaron Richter for COMPLEX Jackie Cruz "OITNB" actress Jackie Cruz. Aaron Richter for COMPLEX Jackie Cruz "OITNB" actress Jackie Cruz. Aaron Richter for COMPLEX

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Natalie Roterman
Natalie Roterman

Natalie (from Mexico) joined Latin Times back in 2014 and she is all about pop culture and entertainment. She also has a genetic love for food and traveling. Follow her and get the scoop on the biggest upcoming films and TV shows, plus interviews with your favorite stars that you won’t want to miss. When she’s not writing for Latin Times, she’s either filming her next episode of “El Show de Natalie,” at a movie theater, binge-watching a new TV series, or planning her next meal.