For “Orange Is The New Black” star Jackie Cruz, the road to stardom has been filled with tragedy.
In a mini-doc by Vice Autobiographies posted Tuesday, the 30-year-old actress described the challenges she faced before landing the role of Flaca in the hit Netflix series. Cruz particularly highlighted why she’s grateful for the life-changing car accident she survived as a teen.
In the video, the “OITNB” star first described how she became friends with a “girl who was not a good influence.” One day, while the two were on their way to Wango Tango, her friend began to race another car.
That was the day that changed Cruz’s life:
The day that I do not wear my seat belt, she hit the curb. She lost control of the wheel. The car flipped three times and I went out the front window. My face was crushed, basically. It was all scars on my face, my hands, my whole body. I was bleeding everywhere. I had a kidney contusion, lung collapse, broke two vertebrae, and I had brain surgery. I had a blood cot in my brain. All I remember is waking up two weeks later with a tube down my throat [and] learning that I was in a coma for 72 hours.
With tears in her eyes, Cruz detailed the impact the accident had on her family, including how her mother refused to eat while she was in a coma and eventually lost the baby she was expecting.
“I was her only child at the time, so she was going to die with me,” Cruz said.
But now Cruz says her role on “OITNB” is “the highest point in my life” and credits her car accident for putting her back on the right track.
“My accident, I’m thankful for that,” she said. “Yes, it was the hardest, most difficult time of my life, but now I get that all of my struggle, is for a reason. Obviously, all those emotions come to me. All I have to do is think about it, and if I need to be sad in a movie or in a part, I can get that, and I can be very honest. I feel like every struggle in my life was for a reason, and I didn’t understand that until today.”
To learn more about the actress’ journey, watch the the video above.