Jackie Cruz Taps into Her Maternal Instincts for “History of Evil”

Jackie Cruz in "History of Evil"

Jackie Cruz wants to be a leader – both on and off the movie set. It’s something her Latina mother instilled in her growing up in the Dominican Republic. “My mother always believed in my talent,” Cruz, 37, told Latina Media Co during a recent interview from her home in Oaxaca, Mexico about her new film, History of Evil. “It was around high school when she moved me to the United States, so I could follow my dream. She left her life in the Dominican Republic where she was a doctor, so I could become someone I wanted to be.”

Since attending Alexander Hamilton High School in Los Angeles as a music academy student, Jackie Cruz pivoted to acting in the mid-to-late 2000s with small parts on TV series like The Shield and My Own Worst Enemy. Her breakout role came in 2013 when she starred as Marisol “Flaca” Gonzales on the critically-acclaimed Netflix series, Orange is the New Black.

Her latest project is History of Evil, a feature film set in a near, dystopian future where the US government has transformed into a theocratic police state. Cruz plays Alegre Dyer Rodriguez, a political prisoner who escapes from a detention center in Louisiana and reunites with her husband, Ron (Paul Wesley), and young daughter, Daria (Murphee Bloom). On the run from a right-wing evangelical militia, the family takes shelter in an abandoned house with a dark history stemming from racist roots.

“A movie like this is very political, but it’s also very scary because we’re living in a time where this could happen in real life,” Cruz said.

Along with the fact that Cruz “had never seen a role like this written for a Latina,” she felt close to the narrative because Alegre is a mother who wants to protect her daughter. Cruz gave birth to twins in 2022, and said she would “do anything” to keep her babies safe. Maternally, she knows exactly what is driving Alegre in the script.

Jackie Cruz in "History of Evil"

“[History of Evil] reminded me a lot of the movie Aliens,” Cruz said. “[My character] has a daughter and is trying to balance her activism with being a mother. She’s realizing family is what is most important in life. She’s also trying to change the world and make it better for her [daughter’s] future.”

Cruz is very aware of the types of messages her work supports. History of Evil is a horror movie at its core, but the genre is only a part of what makes it impactful. She wants viewers to know that speaking out on issues is something she will continue to do throughout her career.

“Our voices are very powerful, and we have to use them,” Cruz said. “Whatever is pressing on your heart, please speak up. I want to show my children that the world can be a better place if you use your voice.”

History of Evil is currently streaming on Shudder and AMC+.

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