While growing up, Jackie Cruz never saw anyone like herself on television, but she, her character “Flaca” and the Orange Is the New Black cast is here to change that.
“The first time I saw myself represented on television was…I can’t remember. There wasn’t a Latina that I saw that kind of represented who I was. I think it’s really important to have a representation of yourself. That’s why Orange Is the New Black is so popular because finally, the audience is seeing themselves on TV. My character Flaca, she is not stereotyped at all,” she says in the video share by Netflix for their #FirstTimeISawMe campaign. “She’s just a regular teenage American Latina who lives in the states. Girls come up to me and say, ‘I’m just like her. I’m so happy that I’m finally seeing myself on TV.'”
The 30-year-old star goes on to explain that her character connects not just with Latinas but with a lot of young girls in general.
“It’s really, really cool to be that character and to be part of a show which is so diverse and it’s kind of changing Hollywood, and we need more shows like this. We need shows that represent who we are as people,” she says.
Cruz has first hand seen the difference that her character and the cast of Orange Is the New Black has made on its audience.
“There was one girl, in particular, she came up to me, and she was crying. She was just like, “I want to be an actress, too and looking at you and at Orange Is the New Black, I feel like it’s possible.” That was beautiful, and it made me cry because this dream is already hard,” she recalls.
The star explains that being Latina made it extremely difficult to audition in Hollywood when she was younger because of the type of roles that they would try to cast for her.
“It was very hard for me to get roles because they put us in a box. I’m tired of being in a box. Latinas are all different colors, sizes and it’s time to make that change,” she says.