This past Wednesday, Jackie Cruz flew into Orlando from her home in New York to visit Rollins. While Cruz is talented in more ways than just acting, she is most known for her role as Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales, the young and strong Latina with a powerful backstory on Netflix series Orange is the New Black.
Cruz often travels to schools to tell her story and inspire young adults. Raised in the Dominican Republic and Los Angeles, Cruz stated that she knew she wanted to be an actress ever since she saw Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard when she was six years old. Growing up with the dream of being an actress and singer, she said it was disheartening to never see someone “like her” in movies.
By this, Cruz was referencing the lack of diversity portrayed in popular movies and television shows. Orange is the New Black is well-known for introducing audiences to women of different ethnicities, working to break the stereotypes associated with them. Latinas, African-Americans, Asians, and Russians are portrayed in this series that empowers women of every background.
In a dinner held before her talk in Bush Auditorium, Cruz discussed the frustrations of being a Latina actress. During auditions, she is constantly asked to have a thicker Spanish accent or to “act more Mexican”. These kinds of stereotypes are what promote the lack of diversity portrayed in Hollywood, but Cruz is determined to break them.
Cruz’s emotions towards being a Dominican actress were relatable to many people in the audience who have also had a hard time finding people like them in Hollywood.
Another struggle for Cruz growing up was her transformation after a tragic car accident where she was thrown from a vehicle window going 80 mph. Cruz was temporarily paralyzed on one side of her face and had to go through rehabilitation in order to heal.
Cruz proved to be someone who is talkative, kind, and funny. After the talk, she stayed behind to give autographs and pose for selfies with students.
Cruz seemed to be enjoying herself the entire time. While at Rollins, she proved how much she cares about her fans.