Orange is the New Black star, Jackie Cruz, on her road to confidence, makeup sins, and the near-fatal accident that changed her life

Orange is the New Black star, Jackie Cruz, on her road to confidence, makeup sins, and the near-fatal accident that changed her life


Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @jackiecruz

It's impossible to have a conversation on the triumph of Netflix without talking about Orange is the New Black. The award-winning series remains the platform's most-watched series to date, and it was the first of its original productions to earn critically-acclaimed status. Attributed to a combination of both razor-sharp wit and a spot-on reflection of real-world issues, it comes as no surprise that OINTB has propelled the streaming service — and its stars — to new heights. Dominican-American actress, Jackie Cruz, is one of those happy, accidental successes.

Her portrayal of the whip-smart, liner-lovin' Marisol 'Flaca' Gonzales grabbed everyone's attention from season one, but it wasn't until several seasons fown the road did the character graduate to series regular. Now in OITNB's seventh — and final — season, Cruz has landed an even larger fanbase (she has 1.5 million followers on Instagram), more career opportunities (she recently released a new song, Melly 16) and a partnership with big beauty brand (Kat Von D Beauty, anyone?). What's next? We hear from Cruz herself, discovering the secret behind her boundless confidence, her prison beauty essentials (not that it'll ever come to that), and her relationship with makeup after the near-fatal car accident that re-routed her life.

Tell us about your daily makeup routine.
A lot of serum! I use Retrouvé eye serum all over the face. It's my favourite thing to do. I also like to steam my face in the shower too.

Do you regularly use a makeup artist or are you more of a DIY girl?
I have a makeup artist, Jorge Rodriguez-Jimenez, for special events. He comes in and uses my favorite products from Kat Von D Beauty which are the Cake Pencil Liners, Tattoo Liner, and of course Go Big or Go Home Mascara. I definitely do my own makeup for day-to-day stuff, though!

What's was your first makeup moment?
I started using eyeliner when I was 16. I thought it was amazing to find new ways to wear liner, so I drew thick liner with an extra line on top which was pretty cool. People were going nuts over it.

Sounds like something Flaca would do. If you could only take one beauty product with you on the off chance you land in prison, would it be eyeliner?
I mean, Flaca would definitely opt for the Tattoo Liner because doing the marker thing is not fun. For me, I would have to say mascara — not because of the Go Big Or Go Home campaign — but because if I need to wear anything, it's definitely big lashes. If I could take two things, definitely a bold lipstick (my favourite is Outlaw from Kat Von D Beauty). I don't know if they would let you wear red lipstick though! I'd just lie and say it's Kool-Aid. [Laughs]

Kat Von D Beauty's new mascara is called Go Big Or Go Home. What has been the biggest 'go big or go home' moment for you?
Definitely working on my new song, Melly 16, which is about my car accident when I was a teenager. It's amazing that this campaign came out at this time because I was finally free enough to release my hospital picture which shows me with a shaved head, crooked eyes, and a crooked face with scabs everywhere. It was really scary to share that photograph and my song because it's my life story. It was pretty big moment after holding onto that picture for 15 years — to let it out and have this campaign follow that was incredible. I definitely went big this year, and it's just the beginning for me.

What was your relationship with makeup and beauty after your car accident?
It was one of my darkest moments. You're a teenager and you are trying to find out who you are. In that moment, I was influenced by the wrong people, and I felt a little like lost sheep. Makeup came to me at the time — a time when I didn't want anyone to see me — and it made me feel good. I have a lot to say when it comes to beauty from within and taking care of yourself, your heart, and soul. Beauty is just going to exude from you.

It's inspiring that you found your confidence again after you lost it.
I definitely have lost my confidence a bunch of times. And I'm still regaining it! It's a journey that you have to work on every day. Having a campaign like Go Big or Go Home definitely makes me feel good. It makes me feel even better that they hired me based on personality, and not on looks. It gives confidence because they care about the way I carry myself and what I'm trying to do with the world — to make my own little way through Hollywood. In Hollywood, you get wonderful feedback but don't always book the part, so what I've done to keep my confidence up is focus on my own dream and goals.

Do bigger lashes mean bigger confidence?
I started to wear less makeup to all events because my face was getting a little irritated. So, lashes are a big deal for me. They give me more confidence... they make me feel good. I don't really care what people think, but to me having them big just makes me feel sexy. Plus, I flirt a lot with my lashes, so it's important to have them long.

You've been a fan of Kat Von D Beauty for a while. What was your first product from the brand?
It's the Kat Von D Beauty Tattoo Liner, and I still use it today! I discovered the brand a long time ago through my makeup artist on Orange is the New Black. During season 1, I told my makeup artist that if she ever meets the Kat Von D Beauty team she should tell them that I love it, and that Flaca wears it on OITNB.

When do you feel most beautiful?
In the morning. I love a fresh face.

What's a bigger crime? Crooked eyeliner or smudged mascara?
I would say crooked eyeliner. I take my time and I try to focus every time. If I need to use tape or a coin to draw it, I will!

Lipstick or eyebrow pencil?
Damn, that's hard because I just said lipstick as my top two products. I guess lipstick because I have bangs, so I can hide my eyebrows with it. [Laughs]

Blush or contour?
I'm a blush girl. Blush over anything.

Highlighter or concealer?
Definitely highlighter. I need that glow, you know? I don't care where I'm at.