'Orange is the New Black' star Jackie Cruz wants to inspire others to find self love

If there's one thing Jackie Cruz wants others to learn from her it's that it may take some time to learn who you are -- but when you do, it's the best feeling in the world.  

Known as Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales on Netflix's TV series  'Orange is the New Black,' the actress and music artist revealed she wasn't always the zealous Dominican beauty guru she plays on the hit show. "Flaca is so confident," Cruz revealed to AOL. "Playing her made me who I am because she was so confident at a young age. I wasn't that confident, and I didn't believe that I could do all of those things. She always takes something negative and makes it positive," she continued.

Cruz, like many other aspiring actors, has been in the business for years. And while she rose to fame playing the fierce yet beloved prisoner, it was a traumatic event when she was a teenager that also triggered her journey to self-love. In high school, Cruz was involved in a serious car accident that left her hospitalized. 

While the accident may have taken a toll on her self-confidence at that moment and a few years after, it also gave her the courage she needed to take the risk of pursuing her dream career.

"It took me 15 years to get my big break, and it's still the beginning for me because of my self-discovery," she explained. "But if God puts passion in your heart and soul, you're going to do it. Believe in that."

As the star's self-confidence grew, she also began to encourage others to channel their inner glow. 

"I know what it is to be homeless. I know what it is to have nothing -- to lose a lot of your family because of your goals in life. It all comes with believing in yourself," she described.

Cruz also recently partnered with Schick Hydro Silk to spread the message of the importance of feelin' yourself. The brand's campaign Feelin' Myself Island, was a hilarious take on some of summer's most popular reality dating shows. However, instead of competing for the love of someone else, contestants had the chance to win a stay on their own private island so they too can fall even more in love with themselves. 

"I'm so happy Schick chose me to talk about what's going on in my life and the campaign and how incredible it is. The winner is going to be able to go to an island and learn to understand what it means to love yourself," Cruz exclaimed.  

And in the spirit of loving yourself, Cruz dished on some of the passion projects she's finally taking the time to work on. 

Outside of acting, she's also working on music, directing and producing. 

"The only way you can be happy is to live your own dreams," says Cruz.  

Jackie will announce the winner of the Feelin' Myself competition via Instagram on July 29. To learn more about the competition take a look at the hysterical video below.  

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