Heard at Abington: 'Orange Is the New Black' actress Jackie Cruz

Jackie Cruz

'Orange Is the New Black' actress Jackie Cruz told Penn State Abington students that she treasures letters from girls and women who said the show helped them muster the courage to come out to their families.

Credit: Maria Narodetsky

"I don't want to be stereotyped. I just want to play a woman, and there are so many different colors of women on "Orange Is the New Black." I work with women who aren't the stereotypical beauties you grow up watching. Flaca (her character) is not a stereotype although at first I thought she was because the role was for a 'spicy Latina.' There are all types of women in prison.

"Latinas all speak and look different if they are from the DR (Dominican Republic) like me or Mexico or wherever. I've been told I don't look Latina or white or Mexican enough for roles."

— Actress Jackie Cruz portrays inmate Marisol 'Flaca' Gonzales on the hit Netflix series "Orange Is the New Black." Penn State Abington invited Cruz to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and the 2015 Abington Common Read selection, "Whistling Vivaldi." The book sheds light on the threats racial and gender stereotypes pose and lays out a plan for reshaping American identities. The book is assigned reading for almost 600 students and related programming is open to the entire campus community.