Jackie Cruz is certainly enjoying life right now. And why shouldn’t she be? Currently starring in one of the most popular shows, Orange is the New Black, the Dominican beauty is getting some serious attention not only for her acting talents – but her singing and style as well. Working since the age of 16, it hasn’t been an easy journey for the performer – but she’s now ready for her time in the spotlight.
We caught up with Cruz to talk about her style inspirations, favorite bold lipstick colors (she’s got many!) and even a bit of OITNB season two gossip. Read it all below!
What inspires you when it comes to style?
I definitely like to standout. I love making things my own and adding cool details or ripping things or just making it different.
Why do you like lip color so much?
I don’t know, honestly. It’s just one of those things that I’m really into. I can’t leave the house without something on – even if it’s a nude [shade]. It just makes me feel like a woman, if that makes sense. It’s something you notice right away. If you see a woman wearing a red lip walking down the street, you’re going to look twice.
A lot of 90s colors seem to be coming back – this kind of grunge look with dark browns and even black…
Yeah! I have this color, I call it a “dead lip.” [laughs] I’m really into it right now, even though, you know, it makes you look not alive. [Color: Exclusive Event – MAC cosmetics.] I really love that matte look right now. No gloss.
What are your favorite colors or brands?
Wet n’ Wild has some pretty amazing colors for like $2. Seriously! A hot orange, the pink, for two dollars! I really recommend. The dark colors that have been in, I wear a blue liner for lips. [Makeup Forever 3L Navy Blue]. Flaca [Cruz’s character in OITNB] wore it first. [laughs] But I started wearing it after that. BITE beauty is pretty awesome. But MAC is my go-to. My favorite red is Ruby Woo by MAC.
Who are your style inspirations?
My mother and my aunt are huge [style inspirations] for me. They left me all of their amazing clothes. I have an 80s leather jacket that I wore to Wildfox [New York Fashion Week show] and it's this thick leather that you don’t see nowadays.
All these beautiful coats, beaded shirts, and more. They loved vintage in their day, so it’s even older stuff. Stuff from the 50s, 60s… it’s pretty amazing.
I’m also inspired by Cher. I love her vibe, I love the way she dresses – she stood out. She’s an icon. Brigitte Bardot, too and Jane Birkin. Basically, if you have bangs, I’m down. [laughs] I’ve had my bangs for eight years, so…
Do those differ from any career icons you have?
Selena is someone I look to for my career and my singing and everything. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, I actually learned about her when she passed away and after that. My family watched all the coverage on it, and I watched her last performance, and I thought she’s wonderful, it was so sad what had happened to her before she got a chance to do everything that she was destined for. Then I learned all about her – how she took over the American market even though she was a Latina and I just loved that she was also so into style. I mean, her style is happening right now. I basically want to be the next Selena. She was all about fashion, she sang in English, she sang in Spanish, she danced, and she was a pioneer.
And you have your own store that you curate…
Yes! It’s called Hollywood Gypsy. My cousin and I went through thrift shops and styled for our own closets, so that’s what we do now online. We take things and fix them or style them in a way that someone would say, ‘Oh, I can wear that right now.’
Are there any trends you regret?
Omigod, I had those thin eyebrows. And all the Hollister and Abercrombie – the complete outfit, being twinsies with my best friend, with California on the shirt. That was a definite thing when I was growing up.
We actually talked to Camilla Belle, and she said the one trend that she regrets were the triangle-shaped, handkerchief tank tops. Did you ever rock those?
Omigosh, yes! But I would possibly rock those again. [laughs] I love any crop top, so I’m all about any crop top possible.
What have you learned about beauty in prison?
You basically use what you have. If you don’t have a lipstick, you use eyeliner or whatever. That’s how I started wearing that blue lip. And at home, I always need to sleep with eye masks, and obviously they don’t have that, so they put thick [maxi] pads over their eyes to sleep. My mom got me hooked on eye masks when I was really little, so I can’t sleep without them.
What other beauty tricks have you learned from your mom?
Olive oil on your eyes to remove makeup, or coconut oil. People think it breaks you out, but no oil is good for your skin! It gives you moisture and attracts dirt when you wash off your makeup. Avocado for your hair and egg whites to make it healthy and shiny. I’m very Dominican, so vivaporu [Vick’s VapoRub] for everything! Pimples, all that. And Vaseline for under the eyes. I’m big into getting rid of puffy eyes. I put a spoon in the freezer and then in the morning I run it under a little bit of water, because you don’t want it to stick, but then I put the cold spoon on my eyes to depuff.
My grandma uses Ponds and she’s in her 80s and looks great. And oh! Nivea from Germany or Europe in general. It has ingredients that aren’t used in the formula here, and it helps tighten your skin. [L-carnitine is used in anti-cellulite Nivea products in the U.S. but not regular Nivea crème.]
Any other beauty indulgences?
I’ve been going to Theresa Pinson at Virtual MedSpa for facials, scrubs and peels. And she wants me to start these anti-aging facials using your own blood! I’m nervous but I’m going to do it! Flaca’s younger than me – I have to look young! [laughs]
We talked beauty routines in prison, but what about fashion?
In prison, you all wear the same thing obviously. But I put a little Jackie into Flaca by having her stand out a bit, so I sometimes put my socks over my pants or sometimes I tuck in my shirt or pull my pants up high. That’s basically all you can really do.
Do you ever feel like, “I just want out of this uniform!”
To be honest, I love being on set. It’s my dream come true. So I’m happy any moment I’m in those prison clothes. I have every other time to be myself and dress in regular clothes.
We just got a teaser trailer and release date for season two. What can we expect?!
Just keep watching! You will have to take breaks, even between scenes maybe, because it’s so intense! When you watch it, make sure you don’t have anything to do the next day [laughs] because you’re not going to want to stop. Every character is going to surprise you. I’m really excited to watch it myself! Reading it is different than watching it.
You mentioned that you knew it was going to do well since Jenji Kohan [writer of Weeds] was behind it. But did you know it was going to be this big?
I didn’t know this was going to happen. It’s taken over. And Netflix is pioneering. You can see it worldwide, and I didn’t really think about that before. My cousin moved to China and she’s like ‘Jackie, they’re so excited about it here! They can’t believe you’re my cousin!’ And I’m like really? That’s so crazy!
What’s been the biggest highlight or fun thing that’s happened since the show premiered?
It’s been really fun, just the experiences – the incredible celebrities I’ve met. I met Anne Hathaway [recently]. She was just so sweet and kind. You know when you meet a celebrity and they’re nice to everyone – even the waitress? That’s when you know they’re a good person. I was a waitress too, and you definitely see just how people really are. And she was amazing. Because you know, there are people out there who are nice and some who are not. Not everybody’s who you think they are.
What would you say to others who want to do what you’re doing?
Follow what’s in your heart! If that’s in your heart, why would God put it there if he didn’t want you to be an actor or a dancer or whatever it is you want to be? And never give up.
Get inspired for a bold lip look by clicking through Jackie's many beauty looks!
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A bright pop of red at the Elle Tahari show during NYFW.
A pastel pink at the EFFY Jewelry 35th anniversary party.
Going dark at the 5th Annual Inspire! Gala in NYC.
Bright pink at the Wildfox show during NYFW.
A bold statement at the Thor: The Dark World screening in NYC.
Orange crush at the Jorge Vega Umana fashion show during NYFW.
A kiss of tangerine at the 2013 Icons Of Style Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
The "dead lip" look at the "I love NY" project event in NYC.
A bold look at the Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC Partners Annual Charity Day in NYC.
Deep burgundy at the Derek premiere in NYC.