jackie cruz
Actress Jackie Cruz attends the 67th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

“Orange is the New Black” star Jackie Cruz has been named a top millennial role model by Levo, the leading professional network for millennials, with its inaugural Levo 100, which just launched today. The list recognizes 100 standout millennials across all types of industries and categories who exemplify the new meaning of modern day role models, debunk traditional millennial stereotypes, and are building a life and career they are passionate about. As for her start, Cruz says it was Whitney Houston's “The Bodyguard.” “My mom always had me at the movies as a child and I fell in love with the big screen at the age of 7. The movie that made it for me was The Bodyguard dubbed in Spanish. Whitney sang in English, but that was the moment when I fell in love with film and music.”

In an interview with Levo for her recognition, Cruz spoke of her drive and passion that has gotten where she is today, as well as what Latina millennials like herself are motivated by. “Every day I wake up and I feel like I just want to pause this moment in my life because I don’t want it to go away. It’s so beautiful. It’s a dream come true,” said the actress. She went on to say, “people need to understand that dreams do come true. It doesn’t matter where you come from. Passion and perseverance come hand in hand. If you really focus and dedicate yourself to what you want to do, it will happen… “Latina millennials like me are motivated by success. We just want the same respect that everyone else gets. We want to be treated the same.”

“I’m so excited that now I have a voice and the work ethic to be able to do what I love to do. I don’t care if I make a dollar singing, I just do it because I love to sing. I sing at bars or my friends’ restaurants randomly with two guitarists and just jam on the weekends,” Cruz explained excited. “I recorded my EP [“Hollywood Gypsy”] and this weekend I’m shooting a music video of an acoustic cover of ‘Como La Flor’ as a tribute to Selena on the 20th anniversary of her death.”

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