OITNB's Latina Bombshell Spills All Her Secrets



unnamedPhoto: Courtesy of Pivotal PR.
Jackie Cruz is radiant as she laughs at a joke that her Orange Is The New Black costar Alysia Reiner just told. The Latina beauty, clad in a floral Calvin Rucker ensemble, is chillaxing at the swanky Upper East Side Eiji Salon. It's a far cry from the hard-edged goth we're used to seeing her play during our weekend binges of Netflix's beyond addictive series. In fact, Cruz's carefree demeanor and outspoken attitude makes it feel like we're catching up with an old friend instead of sitting down for an interview.

However, the raven-haired actress' day doesn't end when "Cut!" is yelled on the set of Orange. Besides being a part of the hit show, Cruz is wrapping up a feature film, 13 Steps, and recording her new album. If that wasn't enough, she recently started her own little side job — a clothing line! It's hard to believe one woman can do it all, but Cruz spills how she manages to keep everything balanced.

Without the heavy eyeliner and dark makeup, you look like a totally different person. What was it like when you first saw yourself after the character transformation?
I was very impressed. It turned my personality around. I transformed into someone else — which is exactly what I love about acting. You can transform into someone totally new.

What is your real-life beauty routine like?
I cannot sleep without my eye mask. I go crazy trying to find it every night because I always manage to lose them. In the morning, I also use a day eye mask to help with my undereye puffiness. I'm pretty big on eye beauty so I do it all: cucumbers on the eyelids, freezing a metal spoon and placing it over your puffy areas. I also use a lot of Canadian Vaseline, which I heard works better [under the eyes] than the American version.

What's Flaca's beauty routine like on the show?
When I get on the set, I go to hair and makeup where they add the dark eyeliner and teardrop. They haven't confirmed if the teardrop is just makeup or a tattoo, so you definitely need to stay tuned to find out.

Did you find you were able to slack a bit on your real-life beauty maintenance since you were playing a character in prison — beauty may not be the number-one priority for inmates?
Yes, exactly! Look at my nails! They're not cute at all. I haven't had a manicure in a year! Because it's like, what's the point?

What are some beauty tricks and hacks you've learned from your Orange costars?
I don't know if I really learned anything new. I'm Dominican and we're really big on hair, fitness, and beauty in my family. I feel like I know every trick in the book. We use mayonnaise, avocados, and egg whites in our hair to make them shiny and healthy. And, we use this sugar and strawberry combo as a scrub — my family is big on natural beauty regiments.

So, what would you say is your biggest beauty woe?
My hair! It's curly, so I straighten it all the time. I do a keratin treatment once a year to keep it sleek. The frizz is a big problem during the summer though. However, I feel like I need to wear it natural a few times so I don't end up frying it from all the heat and straightening (laughs).

What can we expect from Flaca in season two?
Ahh, I really can't say. But I can tell you to keep watching because the characters will do things you'll never expect.

Flaca is a pretty hardcore character — how do you prepare to channel such a confident, badass woman?
She definitely does things I would never do! I like to think of her as my alter ego, because she does and says the things I'm too afraid or shy to do. I like to think I take her home with me and channel the alter-ego side of me.
unnamed-1Photo: Courtesy of Pivotal PR.
Before Orange, you focused on the music scene. How has your time in that industry compared to your experience on a television show?
The environment of each is completely different, but I feel like my acting has helped my singing. While it depends on who you work with, I feel like singing is more intense at times. In both industries, you always have to bring your A-game, but singing to me is more personal. I also find it relaxing...

Right after you returned to acting, you booked your OITNB gig. Did you expect to have such promising success on your first job back in acting?
No! I feel like New York City is more forgiving when it comes to Latinos. In L.A., you have to have a certain type of Latina look — which is probably why people were getting more roles than me. It's not just about that talent; how you look weighs in a lot. If you didn't have the look, you weren't seen as a Latina. It was harder for me, but Orange has opened a lot more doors.

How does it feel to be part of such a strong batch of Latina actors on the show?
Amazing. I talk about Selenis Leyva a lot because she's been acting for such a long time. I always ask her what she thought of my performance after a scene. It's so helpful having people who can mentor you on the set.

There's a strong representation of the Latin community in the show. How do you feel it's impacted the view of the Latin culture as a whole?
It's opened doors for all Latinos. The world can now see that we come in different sizes and colors, that we're not limited to one physical appearance. I love how the show has respected this fact.

Do you think you will try music again in the future?
I'm working on my Spanish album! I shot a feature film in Canada called 13 Steps. It's a bilingual movie, so I speak both Spanish and English. I'm probably going to do the music for it.

We heard that you started a new clothing line. Can you tell us more about it?
It's a vintage clothing line that I have on Etsy called Hollywood Gypsy. We rework vintage clothes so they have a modern fit. The idea came to me because I hate looking like anyone else. I don't want to go out and see someone else wearing the same shirt I have on. I like to keep them guessing where I get my clothes. My family kept a lot of their old things and passed them to me, so I wear them after I give them a little DIY makeover. I love getting the "Wow! Where did you get that?!" reaction.


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