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Why Orange Is the New Black’s Flaca Is So Important

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 17: Jackie Cruz attends Sony Pictures Classics'
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

On Orange Is the New Black, Jackie Cruz’s Flaca is one of the witty Latinas now manning the kitchen. She’s decked out in Amy Winehouse eyeliner, blunt bangs, and tiny tattoo teardrops between her eyes. We know little about her background other than her love of indie rock, specifically the Smiths, and that she was once in love with a Vespa-riding molly kingpin. Vulture caught up with Cruz this week at the premiere of Paul Haggis’s Third Person — hosted by the Cinema Society and Revlon at the Jimmy at the James Hotel. While Litchfield isn’t known for fine dining, she can’t get enough of the food on set. She confessed to lifting Snickers bars, fighting Danielle Brooks for the salt-and-vinegar chips, and enjoying flank steak for lunch. She also explained why her character isn’t like any other Latina on television.

Have you ever tried the food in the kitchen?
The food in the kitchen?! Never! That’s like play food. It’s been cold.

But I heard the food on set is really good.
The food on set is amazing. The food is craft-y services the whole time we’re there. And then there is sandwich o’clock. There’s cheese plates, there’s everything. I can’t stop eating on set. I get fat. I need to stop.

What happens at sandwich o’clock?
Oh my God. Every day is different. Today we had gyros for sandwich o’clock.

Are there any other rituals around the food?
Oh, well, Dani [Brooks] and I love salt-and-vinegar chips, so I’ll take it home, and I’ll put it in my bag. I’m like, “I’ll take this, this, and this.” They don’t care. You just take whatever you like, there’s like, Snickers bars. Dani and I fight over the salt-and-vinegar chips. She’s like, “What you got there?” And I’m like, “Nothing!” And she’s like, “I see that blue bag,” and I’m like, “Okay, you can have one.” The cheese plate is my favorite. I fall in love with that. But we like all get along like crazy.

So Flaca is back in season three?
Yes, I filmed today. I film tomorrow morning.

What do you think her backstory is?
I have no idea.

We know she was working for a drug dealer.
The boyfriend, Ian. I don’t know. They write as they go. Flaca is like a fan favorite. I’m so excited to find out more about her. We all know that she’s a different type of Latina. She’s a Latina that loves the Smiths. Maybe the way she was raised might be similar to others, but what she likes is very awesome.

Why is she a different kind of Latina?
Because of the music she listens to. What she likes. She loves to stand out. You don’t see a Latina character that likes the Smiths. I love that I can portray that. When I grew up, I watched Saved by the Bell, Charles in Charge, all white types of shows. I’m just really excited to find out what she did. I think she was just really in love and made a big mistake.

What are the teardrops about?
Well, from what I know, if you kill someone, you wear a teardrop; or if someone special dies, you wear a teardrop. [Points to the inner eye] This is something new. She likes to be different. I told you.

What type of Latina do you think we typically see on TV?
The sexy, beautiful, Sofia Vergara type, with the accent. I don’t know.

Whereas Flaca is more real?
More realistic. All Latinas are different. Different sizes, different colors. We don’t all have the big boobs, the curvaceous body, and we “tauck ike tis.” No, some of us are born in America, like me, and that’s what Flaca is. I love [that] that’s on television. The Latinos are proud of me, that’s crazy. They’re just happy that it’s finally happening. I am in prison, but what I love about it is they’re real people like me or you, and you could have made a mistake because you’re in love.

Why Orange Is the New Black’s Flaca Is Important