VICE is set to premiere its new series Autobiographies (directed by Jaimie Sanchez) tomorrow on Verizon’s go90 streaming service, and they screened snippets of several episodes at the Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn last night, which I was lucky enough to attend. The series tells the stories of a variety of talent, from A$AP Ferg to Pusha T to Jackie Cruz of Orange Is the New Black, all three of which I was able to interview after the screening; I’ll be rolling out the interviews one by one, starting with the quick chat I had to Jackie about her experience telling a highly personal story (which involves surviving a very serious car accident as a teenager) to camera, as well as about her music and acting career. Read up on all of that below, and be sure to check out all the episodes via go90 tomorrow!
Photo via Instagram
So how did they approach you about doing the series?
Jaimie’s my cousin.
Oh, okay! Dope!
[Laughs] We’re family, so she was like, “Do you want to tell your story to VICE?” and I was like, “I frickin’ love VICE! And if you’re directing it? Of course!”
So she was the one who was filming you the whole time, then? Was that comfortable for you?
Yeah, it was really comfortable; I was talking to her, and she knows my story, but she was my boss this time. [Laughs] Not my boss, but she was interviewing me. And I’d never really told her my story in detail, so it was like she was hearing it for the first time, in a way. So that’s why I teared up. I mean, she was also tearing up, but I’m really sensitive going through it every time.
I mean, it’s huge, and that is very emotional; my dad was in a motorcycle accident and suffered a brain injury, so the fact that you were able to recover like that is…I mean, I get it, and I think a lot of people don’t necessarily understand the severity of that injury, so it makes me very, very happy that you were able to recover from it. BUT, back to the documentary, what was it like having the camera on you as yourself, and not as a character?
Yeah, it was different. Very different. I’m really vulnerable, obviously, as myself; when I’m an actor I get to be someone else, and I don’t care what you think about that person because it’s not me. But I’m a singer as well, and on stage I’m more shy, and when I talk about myself I’m shy, but I obviously let it go, and how she pieced it together so that people could understand was really beautiful.
Yeah, it was a really, really nice job. Now, tell me a little bit more about your singing career! I heard your cover of “Como La Flor”, which was amazing!
Thank you! And I’m in a band called The Family Portrait, and they’re here right now; we’re working on our album.
Very cool. And let’s also talk about Orange Is the New Black a little bit; I spoke to Natasha Lyonne a couple of months ago, and she was telling me about how, now that you’re all a few seasons in, it’s pretty easy to just come in, talk about your weekends, and then shut it off and get into character…what happens when new people enter into that dynamic?
It shakes things up a little bit, and that’s happening in the new season. It’s going to be really interesting, and I’m really excited for you guys to watch. (I’m excited for me to watch, because all I do is read the scripts, and all I see is the scenes that I’m in, so I’m really excited to see what everyone else is in.)
For sure! And where are you living primarily right now?
I live in New York, in Brooklyn. Williamsburg.
And where did you grow up in Queens when you were there?
I was born in Corona, and then I lived Upstate in Rome, New York, and then I moved to the Dominican Republic.
Right, and then LA?
Yeah, LA, Miami for like eight months…
Cool, rad. And obviously with the show, you’re filming a lot in New York, I guess…
We film in Queens, but that’s not the reason I’m in New York; I actually love New York, and I don’t want to leave New York! So if I’m in LA, it’s because my mom lives there, and to audition for movies.
So what’s coming up on the movie front for you?
I’m filming a movie in February; it’s a thriller called Altitude; it’s an airplane movie (I’m obsessed with airplane movies!) and I get to play a stewardess, so that’s kind of cool. Very different from Flaca. Still in uniform, though!