Interview: Jackie Cruz talks about being Flaca, life outside ‘OITNB’

jackie cruz orange is the new black
Actress and musician Jackie Cruz talks with us about her beauty musts, being Flaca on ‘Orange is the New Black’ and off-screen friendships.
Credit: Drex Drechsel

Jackie Cruz, otherwise known as Flaca from Netflix hit series “Orange is the New Black” is a fan-favorite for her spunky attitude and killer eyeliner. We sat down with her at the Uberliss braid bar in the Paramount Hotel to talk about life both inside and outside of Litchfield; here is our edited interview.

Did you realize the show was going to become so big?

No! No, I really thought the episode in season 1, where I fight Taystee for a King Kone ice cream … was going to be my only episode. They write [the show] as they go, so I guess they liked me! [We've been shooting season 3] just this month, so we don’t know a lot yet. I’m ready! I told my friend, “I can’t wait to go to work; I just have so much fun!” and she was like, “I want to have fun at my job.” She’s a nurse.

Do the friendships on the show translate off-screen?

They’re legit friendships, yeah. I hang out with Diane [Guerrero] a lot – we go shopping, we have lunch. Dash [Dascha Polanco] and I love to dance. I was [Danielle Brooks'] date the other day for the “Third Person” premiere. I was like, “Who did you invite first?” and she told me, “No, you’re my homie! You’re the first person I called.” I go bowling with Taryn [Manning] and Emma [Myles]. And Soso – Kimiko [Glenn]! She’s so much fun, I love her.

What beauty products would you smuggle into prison?

I can’t live without my eyeliner or lipstick – Ruby Woo from MAC – and under-eye cream for puffies!

On the show they use Kat Von D Tattoo eyeliner. I usually wear just the eyeliner, maybe if I need to cover up a pimple here or there. [laughs] Flaca wears her eyeliner like lipstick, which is kind of cool – she likes that gothic situation. I always sleep with a sleeping mask, so they use maxi pads with little rubber bands on them.

Are you and Flaca similar?

We definitely have some similar characteristics, she loves music and so do I – I’m a musician. She has a feistier attitude than me, and I love playing her, because I could never be that in real life. I have a friend who IS Flaca … I imitated her for two years before I even got the role … so when they told me, “Flaca is a feisty Latina,” I went in there pretending to be her, and I got the part.

[Flaca's on-screen kiss] was one of the best moments on set for me, because we got to see her vulnerable side. Being in prison, and your boyfriend not coming to visit, when maybe she’s in there because of him, I would be devastated. And Maritza – we’re friends on and off the show, so it was nice to have that moment with her. It was my favorite scene, besides the mock fair.

You almost won!

You know, I tried to get a job by being flirty … it happens, sometimes. [laughs]

As a musician – what kind of music do you play?

I want people to feel what I’m feeling. So I write about my past experiences, about heartbreak, love. Mostly about heartbreak. [laughs]

One day, I want to sing in the subway, with a bucket out. I’m so shy, but I’ve always wanted to do that. I’m gonna do it someday, watch!


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