Singer-actress Jackie Cruz's attempts at stardom, which dominated much of her teenaged years, came to fruition in 2015 when she was cast as Flaca, a women's prison inmate, on "Orange is the New Black" (Netflix, 2013-). Born in Queens, New York, Cruz was raised by her single, Dominican Republic-born mother, who nurtured her daughter's interest in performance through singing, dancing and acting lessons. In her mid-teens, she moved with her mother to Los Angeles, where she studied at the Hamilton Music Academy; during this period, she experienced initial brushes with fame as a member of Krush Velvet, a girl group produced by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas and later, through appearances as herself as a sort of romantic foil for Kourtney Kardashian on "Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami" (E!, 2009-2013). A streak of personal turmoil, during which she was homeless and later suffered a traumatic injury in a car accident, led to a return to New York, where Cruz worked as a model and waitress while continuing to pursue careers in music and acting. Her big break came in 2013 when she was cast as Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales, a slightly dim, Goth-influenced inmate on "Orange is the New Black." Initially a recurring character, Flaca was made part of the main cast in the series' fourth season.