Get ready for a whirlwind of emotions "OITNB" fans!
"Orange is the New Black" star Jackie Cruz said the upcoming seventh and final season is guaranteed to make viewers laugh, cry and everything in between.
"The ending is going to be heartbreaking, it's going to make you laugh, it's going to make you feel everything you can feel because that's what [showrunner] Jenji [Kohan] does," the 32-year-old actress told Wonderwall.com. "Jenji–she writes gold and she writes about things that are relevant, and things that are relevant, aren't really very happy right now. So we're not in the happy times."
Jackie, who has been starring as inmate Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales since the show's premiere in 2013, also shared that filming her final scene was particularly devastating for her.
"It's heartbreaking for me because it's the end, you know? I can't really say anything but I've grown so much [on the show]. I became the actor on that show that I was trying to be. That show made me who I am and validated me. I can't tell you everything but it's something that you need to see," she explained.
The Dominican starlet credits the critically acclaimed Netflix series, which has received 16 Emmy award nominations and four wins, for helping her to find self-love and confidence. Jackie was a relatively new actress when she landed the role of Flaca, with only two previous professional acting credits to her name.
"I'm blessed that I had the opportunity like 'OITNB' to discover who I am, to be another character like Flaca. I look up to Flaca, you know, she's confident and she's a hustler," Jackie said. "She'll try to turn anything positive from a negative, and that's who I became. I became a whole different person that I didn't know I could be because of 'Orange.'"
She continued, "I'm doing things I never thought I could do and 'OITNB' showed me that. I've been learning behind the scenes while working in front of the camera. I've grown. Loving yourself doesn't come overnight but God makes no mistakes. I'm not talking s—, I've been through hell and back."
Jackie is referring to a nearly fatal car accident she experienced as a teen that left her in a coma for 72 hours after emergency brain surgery. She revealed that the traumatic experience deeply affected her self confidence at a time when she was most vulnerable.
"I had my car accident and my hair being kind of shaved off because I had to go to surgery, and all the beauty taken away from me. Being confident right now, I can say it's taken years. It's not something that comes overnight, it's a journey."
Luckily, Jackie was able to overcome the experience and now wants to help others find their inner confidence and self-love. The actress is partnering with Schick® Hydro Silk® for the Feelin' Myself Island campaign, which will award one grand prize winner with a trip to their own private island to fall more in love with themselves.
Jackie was sent to a tropical locale to film a faux dating reality show commercial, tied to the campaign, where she wooed herself.
"I went to an island where I did a lot of self-care, like doing yoga. I had coconut margaritas or whatever I wanted. It was cool to fall in love with myself, take myself out to dinner," she said about her experience. "Obviously, it's entertaining too but [the message is] to take time for yourself to feel good."
She added, "For me to get this campaign about self confidence–after me wanting to die at a young age–I don't want to be too dramatic but that's how I kept going. If I can be an example to anyone to love themselves and not give up on themselves, and to know that things happen–maybe not the best–but they happen for a reason. All of that happen to me in life, and I look back at it and its helped me be who I am today."
The application period for the contest begins July 9 and closes July 22. Jackie will announce the winner on her Instagram channel (@jackiecruz) on Monday, July 29.