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NEWS | June 10, 2016

Training ... even actresses do it

By Courtesy story by Adrienne Anderson

“Orange is the New Black” actress Jackie Cruz, who portrays Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales, got to know what it’s like to be a Soldier for a day Tuesday, to prepare for a new role.

Accompanying Cruz was Carol Garlick, a screenwriter working on a short film called MST, which will feature Cruz as a Soldier.

To play the part well, Cruz came to Fort Belvoir to get a firsthand look at being a Soldier.“I wanted to know how it is,” she said. “I’ve never been around this kind of environment, so I want to learn everything from the bottom up. Today, I got to hold guns for the first time in my life. I got butterflies … but (an Army Reserve Soldier) showed me how to hold it and keep the safety on.”

Cruz and Garlick met Army Reserve senior leaders; visited the 212th Military Police Detachment and the dining facility and went to Davison Army Airfield. Wednesday, she visited the Pentagon.

“I wanted to make this as authentic as possible, so we took her to chow,” Erin Thede, director of Private Public Partnership, said. P3 coordinated Cruz and Garlick’s military visits.

Cruz took each activity seriously, calling herself a sponge soaking up information she learned over the course of her visit.

“Even holding the gun properly and not putting my finger on the trigger – that was really important,” she said. “I posted a picture (on social media) and one of the first comments was ‘way to go girl.’ ”

Cruz emphasized her priority in understanding each character she portrays.

“It just feels really good when you research a character and you do it the right way,” she said. “It’s the same with my character, Flaca. She’s Mexican and I’m Dominican. So, I made sure that my Spanish sounds like I’m Mexican,” she added.

She also had a friend who was of Mexican descent to help her with her lines.

 Cruz said.“I become the character,” Cruz said about her new role as a Soldier. “She’s (Garlick) calling me Rambo already.”

Her experience visiting Fort Belvoir made her see the Army in a new way.

 She said.“I’m proud of you guys. Thank you for protecting us and keep up the good work. I don’t think everybody could do this,” Cruz said. “You’ve got to be strong. Just being here today, it seems like a lot. It was overwhelming and, to be in it every day – it’s amazing.”