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From Homeless To Starring On A Hit Netflix Show: Here Are 20 Facts About OITNB’s Jackie Cruz

Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black” has populated a pretty huge following over the years thanks to it’s intriguing and lovable female characters. The show has allowed us to see into the lives of real women while also getting to see them grow and learn about themselves. Amongst the show’s most beloved characters is Flaca, a character played by Jackie Cruz. For those of you who fangirl over Flaca and the actress who has brought her to life on screen, here’s a look at 20 facts about the actress.

1. Acting is just one of her many talents.

@jackiecruz / Instagram

She’s also a musician and model, though amongst fans she’s best known for her role as Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales on Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black.”

2. Cruz is Dominicana.

@jackiecruz / Instagram

Born in Queens, New York, the actress grew up between Los Angeles and in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

3. She was raised by her mother.

“Orange Is The New Black” / Netflix

Cruz has said that she grew up in a single parent household. “My mother was very into fashion growing up with super cool leather ’80s jackets that she actually left for me.”

4. She was homeless.

“Orange Is The New Black” / Netflix

At age 16, Cruz moved out of her mother’s apartment and became homeless.

5. She was once in a coma after being in a severe car accident.

“Orange Is The New Black” / Netflix

When she was 17, she was the victim of a car accident where she suffered a collapsed lung, fell into a coma and required brain surgery.

6. She made a song “Sweet Sixteen” about her accident.

“Orange Is The New Black” / Netflix

7. Back in 2009, Cruz appeared on two episodes of “Kim & Kourtney Take Miami.”

E! / ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com

Cruz made a couple of appearances on “Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami” after she met Kourtney in an art class. The two became friends and Cruz made a few more appearances on the series.

8. In one episode, Cruz and Kourtney kissed.

E! / ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com

Kourtney later said that she was a bit embarrassed by the kiss, but the two are still friends.

9. She is out as bisexual.

“Orange Is The New Black” / Netflix

In January 2016, Cruz told AfterEllen.com that“I like the person whether it’s a woman—we don’t like to be labeled.

10. She’s a huge Selena fan.

“Orange Is The New Black” / Netflix

According to an interview with CelebBuzz she “grew up listening to Selena. I got to listen to her music, and I fell in love with her. I was born in New York but I was raised in the Dominic Republic, so I come from two backgrounds just as Selena did.”

11. And sees a lot of similarities between the two.

@jackiecruz / Instagram

“Her father was so supportive of her dreams and so is my mother. My mother was the same as her father, she pushed me just like he pushed her. Selena seems like a beautiful person from every documentary or interview I’ve seen of her. She’s into fashion just as I am and I just connect with her so much, she’s beautiful.”

12. She’s such a big fan that she actually did a “Como La Flor” tribute video.

Jackie Cruz / Vivala/ Youtube.com

“I wanted to do this tribute to her for the 20th anniversary since her passing so people know that her music is still alive and making changes. It’s for her and the people who love her.”

13. She does Ted Talks.

@jackiecruz / Instagram

“I have a TED Talks Speech on “Cruzing through Adversity.” I do speeches around universities, and I think it’s really important to tell my story. If I could just help one person I know I did my job, and that is so rewarding. I know I’m helping a lot of people because they have told me themselves, so it’s been really great.”

14. She was a judge on “Vivala Spotlight Search.”

@jackiecruz / Instagram

15. She loves her character Flaca on “Orange Is The New Black.”

“Orange Is The New Black” / Netflix

My character Flaca has honestly taught me that The Smiths are the sh!t. Before I was Flaca I listened to them a little bit and I knew about them, but I wasn’t super obsessed like she is.”

16. Even though they listen to different music.

“Orange Is The New Black” / Netflix

” I personally listen to more of Janis Joplin, Elvis Costello, and Etta James, our love for music is still there; so we have that common ground.”

17. She loves noodles.

@jackiecruz / Instagram

“If I had to live on one food for the rest of my life it would be tacos or ramen noodles. I’m doing this challenge of what’s the best ramen noodle house in New York. I’ve tried almost all of them and so far it’s Total Ramen. So good!”

18. Her mom studied to be a doctor after she had her at age 16.

@jackiecruz / Instagram

Her mom worked two jobs to help her raise her daughter.

19. She worked at the famous LA spot 1Oak

@jackiecruz / Instagram

During the first two seasons of OITNB, Jackie worked as a bottle waitress at 1 Oak.

20. She has strong opinions about prison reform, immigration, and LGBTQ rights

@jackiecruz / Instagram

Anyone who follows Cruz on social media knows how the actress feels about these hot topic issues. In an interview with Bustle she once said,“Since I have a platform, I put my messages out there, bring awareness to the things that I believe are true and need to be changed. If you don’t like it, you can unfollow me. I don’t care anymore.”


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‘Orange Is the New Black’ Will be Ending After Its Seventh Season

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‘Orange Is the New Black’ Will be Ending After Its Seventh Season

Welp, fans of Litchfield it looks like we have reached the end of an era. On Wednesday, the cast of “Orange is the New Black” released a video announcing that its upcoming seventh season would be its last. This is sure to be bittersweet news for the show’s fans who have helped it remain Netflix’s most popular series. Not to mention helped catapult the careers of many of its formerly unknown stars, most of whom are womxn of color, to fame.

For those of us who turned to the show for representation of Latinx stories, news of the show’s final season is especially bittersweet for the Latina fans.

Since its premiere in 2013, “Orange is the New Black” has been hailed as groundbreaking.

The Netflix original dramedy is based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name. The series explores the fish-out-of-water story of a privileged white woman doing time in prison. Although Netflix has remained notoriously hush about their streaming stats, it has been widely reported that OITNB is their most-watched original series. Keep in mind, this has it beating out juggernauts like “House of Cards” and “Stranger Things.” Its frank yet nuanced depiction of female prisoners have earned it 12 Emmy Award nominations and three wins.

Of the decision to end the iconic TV series, its visionary creator Jenji Kohan said: “After seven seasons, it’s time to be released from prison. I will miss all the badass ladies of Litchfield and the incredible crew we’ve worked with. My heart is orange but fade to black”.

Its depiction of complicated, flawed, and sympathetic female characters from all walks of life is unprecedented in television and opened doors for LGBTQ, Black and Latina talent.

Dascha Polanco, Diane Guerrero, Selenis Leyva, and Jessica Pimentel all got their start on OITNB. According to Jenji Kohan, these casting choices were purposeful. She previously revealed that “the pools of talent [while casting] are so deep when you have a call for Latin women or black women or a middle-aged woman because they never get their shot”. She even admitted that the producers would sometimes “add new characters ‘cause we wanted to use another actress”.

In its six seasons, OITNB explored topics like trans rights, queer politics, PTSD, sexual violence, and racism. Notably, they tackled these issues with nuanced and poignant storytelling. And although prestige television has evolved to include more stories like these, it’s undeniable that OITNB was among the first to do so.

As publications like Rolling Stone have previously noted, “Orange is the New Black” has also had a hand in re-shaping the TV landscape towards greater inclusivity. In an interview about the doors the show has opened for new characters, actors and storylines, actress Laverne Cox, who has portrayed trans prisoner Sophia Burset since the series first season, once told Rolling Stone “[OITNB has] revolutionized television. The unprecedented diversity that we just saw in pilot season I think would not be possible if it weren’t for us”.

The show confirmed news of the final season on their Twitter page and the fan reaction was real.

And so many fans are sharing what the show meant to them.

So many Twitter users shared what the show’s efforts to highlight women of color and of the LGBTQ community has mean to them.

And fans are already campaigning for storylines.

#Flaritza forever man.

Although OITNB is ending, there’s no denying that its impact on the industry and its culture will remain. We’ll always have a place in our hearts for the ladies of Litchfield.


Read: Get a First Look at Tessa Thompson in ‘Men In Black’ Spinoff

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Jessica Pimentel’s Double Life As A Dope Rock Band Frontwoman Is Pretty Amazing

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Jessica Pimentel’s Double Life As A Dope Rock Band Frontwoman Is Pretty Amazing

Jessica Pimentel is the woman who brought OITNB’s Maria Ruiz to life. While most people who know Pimentel know her as her OITNB character, there is a whole other side to this Latina’s star power and résumé: she is a heavy metal rocker. Yep, she shreds the guitar and screams with the best of them. Most recently, you might have seen Pimentel rocking out with Peaches on the stage during Samantha Bee’s Not The White House Correspondents Dinner.

We all know about Jessica Pimentel as Maria Ruiz on Netflix’s hit show “Orange Is The New Black.”

Thank you to @sagawards for this amazing honor. It was humbling to be listed alongside so many great nominees who bring the gift of joy and laughter to the world. I could not be prouder to be a part of #JenjiKohan s ground breaking and revolutionary vision and part of the @netflix and @oitnb #OrangeFamily with a cast and crew, in front and behind the camera, that works sincerely, from the heart with all of our hearts. We bring you these stories with all of our depth, compassion, honesty, passion and focus. We tell these stories without judgement and unpretenciously, knowing that these men and women represent people that have been oppressed, repressed, suppressed, discarded, abused, mistreated, misunderstood, misjudged, misguided, shamed, silenced, overlooked, vilified and scorned. We asked you to look beyond your initial first impression and preconceived notions to a deeper level of what makes us all the same. What unifies us as a human race. We asked you to open your mind and heart, while occasionally breaking it and tickling your funny bone.. and you did. Through these stories we hoped to create reflection and understanding. You saw it..Thank you for taking this journey with us for the past four years. With all my being…Thank you #oitnb #sagawards #dontjudgeabookbyitscover #loveaboveall ?

A post shared by Jessica Pimentel ♛ (@thecrusher007) on


Pimentel was one of the standout characters from the 4th season *spoiler* when she started to get involved with overthrowing Piper Chapman and her underground underwear business.

But when she isn’t trying to take over Litchfield, Pimentel is casually rocking out with her heavy metal band Alekhine’s Gun.


Alekhine’s Gun is my favorite band I’ve ever been in. We started in 2009, and it’s very personal. This is the first time I got to create my own thing in a band,” Pimentel told Thrillist. “I came up with the name because I’m a dork and I love chess, and I also felt that this music could convey a special message to an audience, and the best way to connect with an audience sometimes is to get down there and look in their eyes.”

Now, it isn’t like she just fell into being the frontwoman for Alekhine’s Gun overnight.


According to Thrillist, Pimentel first discovered metal when she was about 12 years old. At first, she admits that the kind of music scared her but her mom never really controlled what she listened to so she kept exploring until she understood it. The deeper she has gotten into the world of metal music, the more she has put into her performances, like her corpse paint makeup. She doesn’t even mind that Rihanna stole her corpse paint look.

Pimentel first started her musical career when she was a little girl playing the violin, which she still plays (not the same violin, obvi).


But it wasn’t long until her mother bought her her first guitar.

Her latest gig was performing alongside Peaches at Samantha Bee’s Not The White House Correspondents Dinner special.


Talk about a fierce look.

She was part of an all-woman rock band for the night and it looks like she had a great time.


“I get out of jail to go play a little Rock n Roll and end up running right into #FIG @alysiareiner showed up last night to hang out and support @fullfrontalsamb and had no idea I played guitar for @peachesnisker ! SURPRISE!!!!” Pimentel wrote on an Instagram post.

Her mom even did what most Latina moms do and recorded her daughter shredding her guitar on tv.

When your mom tapes you on TV……than gets mad because you didn't play longer. Love you Mama! #jessicapimentelmusic

A post shared by Jessica Pimentel ♛ (@thecrusher007) on


You can check out a performance by Pimentel and Alekhine’s Gun below!



READ: We Know What The Cast Of OITNB Looks Like Out Of Prison Uniforms, Here Are All The Badass Things They’re Doing

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