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Ruiz is generally a hardened realist, who doesn't accept any nonsense and is quick to dismiss unrealistic fantasies, such as when Maritza and Flaca are planning Daya's wedding to Bennett, or when Piper tries to build a bridge between them when they are going to be transferred together. Her soft side is generally only seen around her boyfriend, Yadriel, and daughter, Pepa. She is desperate to be a proper mother to her daughter, whom she adores, and took her immediate separation from her baby after labor extremely hard.
She can be considerate towards others, as seen when she cares for Daya during Daya's first stage of labor, but is quick to remove this care if it doesn't match with her own ideals and seemingly doesn't attempt to empathise with the situations of others.
Ruiz is a latina woman, tanned in complexion, with black shoulder-length hair and a medium build.
For a list of episodes featuring Maria's flashbacks, see here.
Maria's father was a was head of a drug ring. He was also very big on Dominican pride and raised Maria to be proud of her heritage. However, he embarassed her a lot as a teenager.
When she was still in school, she and her friend saw Yadriel running from the police outside her house. Her friend described Yadriel as "that Mexican papi chulo that hangs next to school". She went outside and found the drugs he threw in the brushes and threw them into her window to save him.
Later she goes to the boxing ring to return it to him. They form a relationship, which her father disapproves of because Yadriel is not Dominican and is his "competition." She and her father get into a fight and she tells him "If this is what it means to be Dominican, I'm not going to be Dominican no more!". After that, her father kicks her out of the house and she presumably goes to live with Yadriel.
Maria is introduced as Dayanara Diaz's extremely pregnant bunkmate. She is elected to be the Latina representative for the WAC. When she goes into labor, Gloria Mendoza and Aleida Diaz assist her with the contractions. She gives birth to a girl, who goes to live with her quiet boyfriend, Yadriel. After she returns to Litchfield from the hospital, she is very depressed and sleeps a lot. When Mendoza is assigned to the kitchen, Maria is assigned with her, along with the rest of the Spanish Harlem.
Yadriel and her baby often visit her and she fawns over her daughter, Pepa ("A Whole Other Hole"). She has six years left on her sentence and she hopes that by the time she gets out, Pepa would recognize her as her mother. Her boyfriend is very stoic during visits, saying very little, but he is unique in that he is the only significant other on the outside who appears to visit regularly.
Maria is one of the prisoners who is earmarked for transfer to a far-away prison, along with Piper Chapman. When a devastated Maria reveals to her boyfriend that she is being sent to another prison much further away, she begs Yadriel that he must speak to Pepa so that the baby doesn't have language difficulties in the future. The very next time Yadriel comes to visit, he is shown speaking much more to the baby, showing he has listened to Maria's request.
In "Mother's Day", Yadriel informs her that he will not be bringing Pepa to visit anymore due to him feeling that the baby is beginning to understand that her mother is in prison. He says this just as they reach the gates of the visitation area, meaning that when he walks away Ruiz is powerless to follow. Her haunted screams follow him out of the building.
In later episodes, she expresses to Aleida that she knows it's not her baby that needs her, it's her that needs her baby, and admits that her boyfriend and his mother are good people and that her baby is fine without her.
Ruiz is kind to Daya when her labor begins, until she realizes that Daya is planning to give the baby away to Delia Powell. She is furious, saying that she'd give anything to see her baby for a single second, and here Daya is giving hers away to a stranger.
The prison gets many new inmates, and most of them are Dominican. Dominicans become the majority and now have more power. At first, Maria wants nothing to do with the national pride due to her past problems with her father, but after watching two white girls shove Flores down the stairs, she becomes somewhat of a leader for the Dominicans. Maria starts a new underwear business to compete with Piper, after she rejected hiring the new inmates. However, Piper snitches on her, which adds 3-5 years to Maria's sentence.
During Nicky's welcome back party, Maria, along with other Dominicans, drag Piper away in order to brand her with a swastika, as retaliation.
- One year, on Valentine's Day, Yadriel got her flowers he stole from his cousin's funeral, which she finds very sweet, as mentioned in "You Also Have a Pizza".
- When she was younger, she wanted to train to be a dental hygienist to give people confidence, as mentioned in "Power Suit".
|Suburbs||Piper Chapman • Alex Vause • Galina Reznikov • Lorna Morello • Nicky Nichols • Tiffany Doggett • Mei Chang • Brook Soso • Angie Rice • Norma Romano • Carrie Black • Gina Murphy • Anita DeMarco • Jane Ingalls • Maureen Kukudio • Leanne Taylor • Judy King • Yoga Jones • Frieda Berlin • Helen Van Maele • Kasey Sankey • Stephanie Hapakuka • Alana Dwight • Jennifer Digori • Brandy Epps • Loretta Fisher • Rhea Boyle • Ginsberg|
|Ghetto||Suzanne Warren • Tasha Jefferson • Sophia Burset • Cindy Hayes • Janae Watson • Alison Abdullah • Irma Lerman • Reema Pell|
|Spanish Harlem||Dayanara Diaz • Maria Ruiz • Blanca Flores • Marisol Gonzalez • Gloria Mendoza • Ouija Aziza • Gerrman • Ramona Contrares • Carrera • Michelle Carreras • Maritza Ramos|