Orange Is the New Black star Jackie Cruz is speaking out about minority representation on TV.
The actress, who plays Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales, partnered with Netflix's #FirstTimeISawMe campaign to help increase diversity in Hollywood.
"The first time I saw myself represented on television was…I can't remember. There wasn't a Latina that I saw that kind of represented who I was," she says in the clip shared by E! News. ""It was very hard for me to get roles because they put us in a box. I'm tired of being in a box. Latinas are all different colors, sizes and it's time to make that change."
OITNB features women of many different races and backgrounds that typically down fall into stereotypical personalities. Cruz thinks that's one reason it has been so successful.
"I think it's really important to have a representation of yourself, she says. "That's why Orange Is the New Black is so popular because finally, the audience is seeing themselves on TV. My character Flaca, she is not stereotyped at all. She's just a regular teenage American Latina who lives in the states.
"It's really, really cool to be that character and to be part of a show which is so diverse and it's kind of changing Hollywood, and we need more shows like this. We need shows that represent who we are as people."
For those doubting that representation has an impact on audiences, Cruz shared a touching story about an aspiring actress who came to her with admiration for her and the Netflix original series.0comments
"Girls come up to me and say, 'I'm just like her. I'm so happy that I'm finally seeing myself on TV.'" she says. "There was one girl, in particular, she came up to me, and she was crying. She was just like, 'I want to be an actress, too and looking at you and at Orange Is the New Black, I feel like it's possible.' That was beautiful, and it made me cry because this dream is already hard."
All of Orange Is the New Black's five seasons are currently streaming on Netflix.