jackie-cruz-profile jackie-cruz-profile
Marjua Estevez

Growing Up Latina With 'Orange Is The New Black's Jackie Cruz

Jackie CruzOrange is the New Black breakout star Marisol Gonzales—knew at the age of six she was destined for greatness.

Jackie CruzOrange is the New Black breakout star Marisol Gonzales—knew at the age of six she was destined for greatness. While living in the Dominican Republic, a single trip to the movie theater during a screening of The Bodyguard, starring Whitney Houston, would spark a vested interest in becoming Hollywood's next 'it' girl.

"I fell in love with Whitney when I saw her on the big screen," she tells us. "And on my walk back home from the movies, I told my mom I wanted to be a singer and an actress."

After surviving homelessness and, later, a coma from a nasty car accident, she turned to modeling while waitressing at a New York establishment before being cast as our beloved Flaca on the Netflix hit series. Today, not only is she making once-lofty dreams a tangible reality, she's doing it with the industry's crème de la crème to insure no vision is left unfulfilled. "Right now, I’m having Rémy Martin Circle of Centaurs partner with me because they believe in my voice—that’s just something that seemed impossible not too long ago."

As the newest mentor of Rémy Martin's Circle of Centaurs, Cruz will serve as a personal mentor for someone who has demonstrated musical flair and a natural ability to explore his or her many inner talents.

Raised between Santo Domingo and Queens, New York, Flaca has plenty to be thankful for, lots of which she credits to growing up Latina…

To those who wanted a little spanish 💋 Ser @latina es una de las mayores bendiciones con las que fui premiada. Yo no elegí ser latina, pero que gran privilegio es poder serlo. Les invito a que miren a cualquier mujer latina y encontraras en ella gran resilencia, hermosas cicatrices de amar profundamente y sabiduría obtenida de las victorias conquistadas a raíz del trabajo arduo. Ser latina es haber nacido con amor puro y pasión, pasión por todo lo que hacemos. Ya sea cocinar, limpiar, cuidar a los niños, o llevar vida al arte. Todo lo que hacemos es con pasión, amamos con pasión, cualquier hombre o mujer lo suficientemente afortunado de tener nuestro corazón puede dar testimonio de ello. Nosotros luchamos por nuestros sueños, y nos elevamos por encima de aquellos que quieren hacernos sentir inferior y derribarnos, porque en nuestra sangre corre una larga línea de reinas que se han sacrificado para traernos a la tierra de las oportunidades. La historia de nuestra cultura es fuerte, nuestros colores son tan brillantes y nuestra hermosa e unificadora lengua hoy día es enseñada en casi todas las escuelas secundarias de la nación. Nuestra gastronomía esta presente en cualquier menú, nuestra calidez, el arte de seducción, y la determinación indomable nos convierte en parte de las mujeres más hermosas del mundo. No asimilamos la tierra donde estamos. La tierra no tiene más opción que hacer suficiente espacio para nosotras!! Ser latina es un regalo, y un privilegio. Como cualquier corona por supuesto, solo quien la lleva soporta el peso. Debemos preservar nuestra cultura y traspasarla a las próximas generaciones para que ellas también puedan reinar como nosotras. #soylatina 👑 🇩🇴 #DR #Santiago

A photo posted by Jackie Cruz (@msjackiecruz) on

Unforgettable childhood memory:
Besides every Tuesday eating Domino's 2 for 1 pizza? [Laughs] It would definitely be seeing The Bodyguard in the Dominican Republican. That's the reason why I wanted to become a singer and an actress.

Favorite home cooked dish:
I don't like to cook that much, but when I come home to the DR—pastelón de plátano maduro. It has carne molida (ground beef) and cheese in the middle, with sweet plantains layers. That, or meatballs. Meatballs and lasagna! I'm also part Italian, you know. 

Craziest Hispanic proverb as told by mami or abuela:
El que quiere moño bonito, aguanta halones, or "whoever wants beautiful hair takes the pain." Sounds better in Spanish. [Laughs]

Blue is the warmest color #Flaritza @dianeguerrero_ @oitnb @netflix #lovemylife #grateful

A photo posted by Jackie Cruz (@msjackiecruz) on

Che Guevara moment (or your greatest moment of rebellion):
When I pulled the fire alarm in night grade... To make friends. It was really like a movie. During lunch, everyone was like, 'Jackie's gonna pull the fire alarm.' And I'm like, 'no I'm not.' Come on girl, we want to like cut class. Come on. And I didn't have any friends because I was new. And I'm like, 'no, I'm not gonna do it.' And then everybody's just like telling me to do it, right. And then it's like this moment. I see the fire alarm, the bell rings, no one's looking. I'm like, boom, I did it. When I walked out in the hallway, everyone's high five-ing me. I was instantly the coolest kid. I was like, 'Yeah! I did it! I did it!' But then I went back to class, while everyone skipped class.

I went back to class because I was the good kid. School officials came at me and asking if I confess I won't get suspended. And I'm like, 'yes, it was me!' [Laughs]

But then I made a good friend, Patty with the helmet. I swear to god she was the nicest person in high school. Patty, thank you. High school was torture. I wanted to get out of there. I was nerd alert. Nerd alert. Even when I tried to be bad, it was awful. People were writing graffiti on walls and I wrote whore the wrong way. I wrote, 'Jackie is a hore.' And I wrote it the wrong way. And people were dying laughing at me. Yeah, it was f*cking hilarious. It never worked out for me.

I first saw myself as Latina when…
Dancing. Dancing was always a point of connection for me. I think because I noticed that not everybody could dance. I just felt it in my blood, though. I don't know, you're just born with it, right?

Chupacabra or el cuco? 
Los dos, pero el cuco. Definitely el cuco. La Chupacabra, definitely, I heard it a lot. But el cuco, like my family would scare the sh*t out of me with that story.

Poor man's meal:
Ramen noodle. I ate that for a whole year in Miami. I was really skinny too back then.

Household cure-all/remedy:
Vivaporu! [Laughs] Vick's VapoRub.

I had the honor of being at the unveiling of Selena @tussaudsla Yesterday! Selena was and continues to be, an idol for so many, especially for young girls who dreamt of being singers and entertainers. Myself included. Thank you for breaking all the barriers you did for Latinas, for women and for young girls in entertainment. Thank you for whole heartedly pursuing all your passions from designer to musician, because in that pursuit you tore down doors for many of us. Selena's life was cut short but her impact, legacy and most importantly her music will never be forgotten. #selenaquintanilla #neverforgotten #mireina👑 thank you @nelsontavareznt for this custom Selena inspired design and @priscillaono for my make up 💋 and @yuichi0503 hair nails by @nails_byely 💅🏽 #dreamteam

A photo posted by Jackie Cruz (@msjackiecruz) on

Salsa, Bachata, or reggaeton?
Salsa for me. I know that's not like a "Dominican" thing. But reggaeton is like when you're with your girlfriends and you like to booty dance or show off with boys or whatever. But salsa is something that I guess—it's an art to it. I love it.

Telenovela guilty pleasure:
Maria del Barrio from back in the day. Oh, and Dos Mujeres, Un Camino.

Historical hero or heroine?
Selena. I've watched every video documentary of her. I just feel like I know her. She's just such a beautiful person. And she did so much at 23, and I feel like she broke barriers at such a young age, and made a little 7-year-old like me think she could do it, too. So that's my hero.

Life mantra:
Don't put a timeline on your dreams.


From the Web

More on Vibe

Bad Bunny's "Mia" Causes Mass Parade In Streets Of Puerto Rico On 'Fallon'

Bad Bunny brought the party to The Tonight Show and to the streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico on Tuesday (Jan. 15) with Jimmy Fallon.Performing his new single "Mia" with Fallon and The Roots, the four of them walked the streets of Puerto Rico drawing in a large crowd of fans and followers behind them.

Opening on Fallon and The Roots walking through the streets of Puerto Rico, the video shows group as they stumble across the 24-year-old sitting alone. Bad Bunny joins them, taking them on an adventure through the streets. The late night host and his band march alongside the “Solo de Mi" artist with tambourines, timbale sticks and maracas while women and men dressed in streetwear and the best of carnival clothing dance behind Bunny and Fallon as they wave Puerto Rico's national flag. As the crowd of participants grew, the crowd eventually reached parade sized proportions.

This prerecorded segment features the studio version of "Mia" without the Spanish verse delivered by hip-hop's golden boy Drake.  The track aslo comes from the reggaeton singer's debut Long Play record, X100PRE.

Check out the full video of Bad Bunny with the boy from The Tonight Show above.

Continue Reading
Brian Ach/Getty Images for Universal Music Group

Luis Fonsi On Coaching ‘La Voz’ Competition And Long-Anticipated Album

With his international knockout "Despacito," Puerto Rican singer-songwriter Luis Fonsi had an explosive 2017. Multiple chart-toppers, like "Échame la Culpa," "Calypso," and his more recent success, "Imposible," helped him follow up with another overwhelmingly strong musical calendar last year. And if this month’s any indication, 2019 also belongs to the Latinx pop hitmaker.

After delivering back-to-back global hits over the last two years, Fonsi is ready to share some new-new with his fans. The 40-year-old singer is kicking off the año nuevo with Vida, his long-anticipated ninth studio album. A blend of the heart-tugging guitar ballads that started his career and the energetic pop jams that made him an international superstar, Vida, his first full-length project in five years, will show his worldwide fans exactly who Fonsi is.

“I think people will get to know, really, who I am,” the Grammy award-winning artist told VIBE VIVA during a phone interview. “I have that pop uptempo side but also this soft romantic side as well.”

Vida, which Fonsi teases is slated to release “very soon,” isn’t the only way fans will further acquaint themselves with the luminary in 2019. The seven-time Guinness World Records-holder is also a coach on Telemundo’s forthcoming La Voz. The Spanish-language version of the successful music competition reality TV show (The Voice), which premieres Jan. 13, will bring Fonsi and megastars Alejandra Guzmán, Wisin and Carlos Vives together to find and nurture the most promising Latinx vocalists in the nation, tasks he’s already undertaken as a coach on the show’s offshoots across Latin America and Spain.

Carving out some time from his excitingly busy new year, Fonsi discusses the making of Vida, what fans can look forward to on La Voz, the abundance of young Latin musical talent and key lessons on persistence that every creative dreamer can gain from.

VIBE VIVA: The Voice is one of the most successful singing competitions in the country. Why do you think a Spanish-language version of this show was needed here?

Luis Fonsi: There’s so many ways of answering this question. First of all, because we are part of the music culture, because we’re part of the music equation because our talent level is incredible. Latinos, we breathe music, we speak with rhythm, we dance when we walk. Music is in our blood, so it was absolutely needed.

There are so many young kids who have either recently moved to the U.S. or maybe have been born here and are of Latinx descent and want to be able to share their talent with the world, so to have that opportunity to sing, whether in English or Spanish, because the show, while it’s called La Voz and is on Telemundo, we’re going to have plenty of people out there who will sing in English, is great. And we’ve seen in the NBC version of the show how many Latin contestants have gone the distance, and some have sung in Spanish.

It’s part of the equation, so to be able to make it more formal and celebrate the differences between our Latin culture, by having someone from Mexico sing una ranchera, have someone from Puerto Rico sing something more Caribbean, have someone from Colombia sing something more vallenato. This format gives us the space and those parameters to be able to do that.

La Voz has been successfully exported to multiple Latin American countries including Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Spain. How will this U.S.-based show be different from those?

I’ve been a coach in many of these different formats, in almost all of them. Right now, for example, I’m doing simultaneously La Voz Spain. The biggest and most obvious difference is when a contestant is done singing in Spain, I ask, “Where are you from,” and they tell me the city, “Madrid, Seville.” Here it’s like, “Hey, where are you from,” and they can be from a completely different country.

They could be from New York and their parents are from Mexico and moved here 40 years ago or you can be from the south of Argentina. Culturally, although we are speaking the same language and although we’re in the States, culturally we’re so dramatically different versus being from the same country and just a different city. So that in itself already gives it something different; the accents, the styles, it gives it such a different vibe.

You were the first one to join the show as a coach. Why were you eager to participate in the U.S. version of La Voz?

I love the format. I truly believe in the format. I’m one of those guys that I’m grateful. I remember where I come from, who opened the door for me and also who closed it. But I’m very grateful for the people who have gotten me to where I am today. When I entered this industry 20 years ago, there weren’t any reality shows like this. And if I would have had that opportunity, I would have probably auditioned for one, because very early in my life I knew that I wanted to be a singer. I actually went to college and got a music degree, that’s how serious I was about music.

It wasn’t about being famous; it was about being a musician, to me. I always think that reality singing shows are good. They’re good for everybody. It’s good for music. It’s good for the judges, or, in this case, the coaches. And I have to say sincerely, by far, my favorite format is The Voice. It’s a positive, family show. It’s all about giving constructive criticism.

It’s not about putting them down but rather about lifting them up, even if they don’t get through the first round. Everybody leaves with their head up and wanting to keep learning, keep singing, and to keep experiencing life, and that’s something that is much needed.

Latin music, in no small part due to your own megahits, has taken over the globe with new talent and viral songs appearing almost every day. Why do you think it’s enticing a universal audience?

You’re right! Right now, Latinx music is in a really good place. Latinx music is global. We’ve seen how so many — and I’m not talking about my songs, I’m talking in general, I’m looking at it with a way bigger spectrum — we’ve seen how many Latinx songs and how many Latinx artists have had success worldwide singing in Spanish. I really do believe that the world is coming together and that this was long overdue.

As a judge, what are you looking for in contestants? What's going to make you turn your chair?

Magic, that wow moment, that feeling you get when you get excited that you don’t know how to describe it. When the hair on the back of your neck stands up. You’ll see it. You’ll see me. I can’t stop moving when I hear that voice, and all of a sudden I’m like, “What is this?” I get antsy. I get up from my chair. Sometimes, I hit that button without my brain processing it, it’s like my hand just moves. It’s just like an instinct, a reflex. And it’s not about perfection or a specific genre.

It’s not about a specific country or whether you’re young or old, male or female. It’s about that “wow moment,” that thing that you get when a voice moves you. I’ve pressed my button for contestants who haven’t had perfect auditions, but they had something I connected with. And it’s the same the other way around.

We’ve had contestants that have not made it to the next phase and have had a solid, amazing audition, but for some reason, there was something there that didn’t connect with us coaches. And that’s the toughest because it’s tough to explain to them that, “Hey, you did amazing, you have an amazing voice, it was a perfect audition, you didn’t screw up, but we didn’t turn our chairs.”

It’s horrible, but at the end of the day, it’s life, and that’s what music is all about. Sometimes you can be in your car driving and you hear a song and it’s an amazing voice, but there’s something about that performance that you just don’t connect with it and you don’t identify yourself with it, and that’s exactly how it is to be a coach. It’s fun, and I think people are really going to enjoy it.


View this post on Instagram


Yo estoy listo... Ustedes? #TeamFonsi

A post shared by Luis Fonsi (@luisfonsi) on Jan 3, 2019 at 4:18am PST

As a coach, what do you hope to offer mentees?

Just a little piece of me, what I’ve learned as a professional singer in a 20-year career, the mistakes that I’ve made, the goods and the bads, all of them. I’m going to put it out there in hopes that they could use it toward their journey. What I’ve learned as a musician. I’ve been studying music since I was eight years old. I’ve been studying guitar and piano. I have a degree in vocal performance, a formal classical degree. So I can speak to them as a musician, not just as a recording artist. And you know what, sometimes it’s not even about the technical part.

It’s about having a conversation with them and making them feel comfortable, choosing the right song. Every contestant is different. Sometimes you have to get really technical with them, and sometimes it’s a little bit more about the psychology behind it. The talent is there, but you have to make them believe in themselves.

That actually leads right into my next question. For non-Spanish-speaking folks, you came into the scene in 2017 with "Despacito," but the truth is you've been putting in work for years, from your boy band as a high school student in Orlando, to touring with Britney Spears to your own early megahits like "No Me Doy Por Vencido," "Llegaste Tu" and many more. Sometimes, when you've been putting in work for a long time and not seeing the results you hope for, it can be discouraging and debilitating. What do you think you can teach these contestants about persistence?

It’s about knowing where you want to get to and believing in your craft and knowing that to get to that point it’s not always going to be a straight shot. It’s not always going to be right there in front of you. You have to go out and get it. You’re going to fall, and you’re going to make mistakes. I have never heard an artist say, “Every song I’ve put out has been a hit. Every album I’ve made has gone platinum. I never made a mistake. I never had crappy performances.” It’s all part of the deal.

It’s like falling in love. We have to get dumped, make mistakes, we have to have a broken heart to appreciate our perfect person when they come along. That’s music. When I’m making an album, I write hundreds of songs, sometimes two songs a day. I wish I can say every song I’ve written has been recorded and has been a hit. Absolutely not! I had to write hundreds of songs to get to “Despacito,” to get to "No Me Doy Por Vencido," to get to "Aqui Estoy Yo," to get to “Échame La Culpa.” It’s an ongoing journey, and that’s what I tell them.

We talk a lot about this on the show. It’s cool to hear the other coaches’ stories because it’s something that you don’t hear every day. We see Carlos Vives and Alejandra, and to hear how many times people have completely shut the door on us, but you have to be resilient and have to believe in yourself. And we also have to be a little stubborn sometimes. You have to say, “I know I have it.” Be humble about it, but also believe in what you have to offer and keep fighting for it. That’s what it’s all about, having that hunger.

Talking about the coaches, this year the team includes you, Alejandra Guzmán, Wisin and Carlos Vives — all megastars. Describe the energy among you all on the show?

Wow! The dynamic between the coaches is incredible. We all love each other. We all make fun of each other. There’s so much honest respect. It’s crazy. You’ll see.

I want to switch gears to you and your own music. I know you are dropping an album this year, your first in five years. What can you tell us about this?

Wow. My last album was in 2014. So we’re talking about five years. A lot changes in five years, and when we talk about pop music, it has completely shifted in five years. The cool thing about this album is that by the time the album comes out, I have released five singles, four of them I can humbly say have been hits. “Imposible” is on its way; it’s already Top 10. And my first three singles have been No. 1 songs, “Despacito,” “Échame La Culpa” and “Calypso.”

To be able to drop an album already having this success on the charts is such a blessing because it’s usually like you release one single and then you put the album out there. People already really know the essence of the album, and it makes it that much more exciting to hear the other songs that are there, that tell so many stories, the ballads, for example.

I’m always happy to hear about ballads. With the major success of uptempo hits like "Despacito," "Échame La Culpa" and "Calypso," why return to ballads?

I’ve never abandoned it. I’m a pop artist. I love the dance tracks and the reggaeton-infused tracks, but I also love a guitar ballad. That, to me, is just as powerful. There's a song in there that I wrote for my son, similar to what I did for my daughter with “Llegaste Tu,” a song I did five years ago with Juan Luis Guerra. You can put a little bit of that personal touch in an album that you can’t just do with a single. You have more room to be able to tell stories and different stories. It’s cool. I think people will get to know, really, who I am.

And how would you describe yourself as an artist?

I’m bad at explaining who I am as an artist, because, again, I have that pop uptempo side but also this soft romantic side as well. That’s who I’ve been ever since I started my career in 1998. It’s not just now. I’ve never been that sort of clean-cut balladeer who wears a suit as they’re singing. I’ve never been that clean-cut crooner. And, again, nothing wrong with them. I love the Luis Miguels and the Michael Bublés. I’m a fan of those guys, but I’m too hyperactive to wear a suit for a full show. And I’ve never been a super crazy pop act that all I do is dance and dance. I have those two sides. I love to grab my guitar and just sing as well.

Hearing you speak about this album is very exciting. When can fans expect to listen to it?

I have a release date, but I can’t share it. What I can say is that it will be out very soon. I’m excited. I definitely think it’s going to be the most important album of my career. And I think people are going to be surprised. I hope people are going to be surprised.

Returning to La Voz, why should Latinxs tune into Telemundo to watch this program?

They should tune in because we’re celebrating who we are. I always say, Latinos, we have music running through our veins. We speak with rhythm. We dance as we walk. Music is such a huge part of us, so to be able to celebrate that with the most important music competition format in the world, when we finally bring it to the biggest stage in the world, the U.S., it’s time to celebrate who we are. For those who don’t know to see how much talent there is out there. And I’m going to tell you, they’re going to flip. They’re going to be so surprised to see how much talent there is out there. I’m really excited. I’m hoping that it’s going to be a very big show for Hispanic television.

La Voz premieres Sunday, January 13 at 9 p.m./8 c.t on Telemundo and its digital platforms.

Continue Reading
Bryan Steffy

Latin Albums Are Now More Popular Than Country Records In The U.S.

Latin artists dominated in 2018, and all of their hard work is starting to show some real results. According to a new-year report from data, music consumption company BuzzAngle, Latin music consumption is now more popular than that of country music.

According to the report, Latin music accounted for 9.4 percent of all album listening in the United States in 2018. It was reportedly measured by combining the physical and digital sales, song downloads, and on-demand streams. The growth in music consumption surpassed country music consumption, which only accounted for 8.7 percent of all album consumption in the U.S.

The prior year, country music accounted for 8.1 percent of album-listening, while Latin music clocked in at 7.5 percent.

Individual song-listening has also increased in popularity. In the past year, fans have increased their consumption from 9.5 percent to 10.8 percent. Country music is still behind at 7.8 percent. Latin artist video views have also increased to 24.3 percent from 21.9 percent.

While country music still dominates on the radio, the Latin music genre is reportedly closing in on R&B and rock, which are tallied at 11.2 percent and 11.7 percent respectively.

The music industry better look out because Latin music is bound to keep climbing the ladder in the new year.

Continue Reading

Top Stories