‘Never give up on your dreams’

Orange is the New Black star, Jackie Cruz was the first speaker of the year to give a talk as a part of the University Lecture Series (ULS) on Tuesday. ORACLE PHOTO/ELYSA GOLDBERG

Orange is the New Black, Jackie Cruz worked to inspire students by sharing her own story during her University Lecture Series on Tuesday.

Cruz spoke about her childhood growing up in the Dominican Republic and her transition moving to America when she was 15 years old. She gave insight into the person she used to be before a life-threatening car accident, referring to herself as “a selfish teenager.”

The car accident she experienced earlier in her life humbled her as somebody who knows what it means to have her life flash before her eyes and is not afraid to go after her dreams and ambitions.

“If you take away anything from my speech, it’s to never give up on your dreams,” Cruz said.

Not only did Cruz share her life changing moment, but she also spoke to her audience about her rise to fame and the struggles along the way.  

Cruz talk about getting scammed by a man in Miami and becoming a waitress just to make ends meet. She also shared how an opportunity finally came to her when a man she was serving told her she should be in New York. This man gave her the start to her success and her first music video.

Cruz also spoke about what her life is like now and her interactions with her fellow cast members on Orange is the New Black.  

“Those girls are like my sisters, we spend so much time together and they are all beautiful,” Cruz said.

Following her big break on Orange is the New Black, Cruz is using her new platform to speak out on issues she feels passionate about.

Her upcoming production company called, Unspoken Word, will be about women from all different cultures and the women that have helped shape society who have gone unnoticed.

Cruz shared that the company will have a website up soon where people can email her and express what they would like to see from the upstart by sharing issues they think should be addressed.

Cruz concluded her debut ULS speech by encouraging the crowd to pursue their dreams and to never put them aside for anyone or anything.

“If God put a passion in you, or whoever put a passion in your heart to do something, then trust me that is what you are meant to do,” Cruz said.  “Work on your craft and never put a timeline on your dream.”