Best Known For
Actress Rosie Perez choreographed the TV show In Living Color and earned an Oscar nomination for her role in Fearless.
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Born on September 6, 1964, in New York City, Rosie Perez was discovered in a nightclub by Spike Lee—a moment that radically changed her career path. She starred in his film Do the Right Thing, which led to more roles. She starred with Woody Harrelson in White Men Can't Jump in 1992. Around this time,
"What I consider to be successful is family, friends, my dogs, my neighborhood, my life. Acting is just icing on the cake."
"What separates an underpriviledged kid from a privileged kid is opportunity."
Perez also picked up several Emmy Award nominations for her choreography on the show In Living Color. She received an Academy Award nomination for her work in the 1993 drama Fearless. More recently, Perez appeared in such films as The Take and Pineapple Express.
Born Rosa Maria Perez on September 6, 1964, in Brooklyn, New York, Rosie Perez has enjoyed success as both an actress and a choreographer. Both of her parents were Puerto Rican. Her mother Lydia had been a singer and her father Ismael Serrano was a merchant marine. According to some reports, her mother was married to another man when Perez was born.
Perez may be known for her quick-talking characters, but she struggled with her speech early on. "I had such a bad speech impediment as a result of the emotional trauma I was going through in my life," she told T magazine. Perez spent time in foster care and had a troubled relationship with her mother. She found some escape from her woes in dance, enrolling in a special program for inner city kids.
Still school was a tough place for Perez. As she explained to Hispanic magazine, "In Brooklyn, I was the nerd. I was the one who used to have to run home from school getting beat up. And the only reason I know how to fight is that I got tired of getting beat up." Perez eventually moved in with an aunt who proved the love and support she needed.
After high school, Perez went out to Los Angeles for college. She wanted to study to become a marine biologist. Purely by accident, she got into acting. Director Spike Lee saw her in a nightclub and hired her for the 1989 film Do the Right Thing. This movie explores what could happen when racial tensions explode on a hot summer day.
Do the Right Thing opened the door for more acting roles. On the small screen, she made a guest appearance on 21 Jump Street with Johnny Depp. Perez also starred in the basketball comedy White Men Can't Jump (1992) with Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes. The following year, she appeared in the romantic drama Untamed Heart (1993) with Marisa Tomei and Christian Slater.
Perez also got to show off her dance background as the choreographer for the comedy show In Living Color. She earned three Emmy Award nominations for her work on the series. It was her dramatic turn in Fearless (1993) that earned her first Oscar nomination. Starring with Jeff Bridges, Perez played a plane crash survivor wracked with guilt of the death of her child, also in the crash. She also lent her distinctive voice to a number of different projects, including The Road to El Dorado (2000).
In 2003, Perez made her Broadway debut in a revival of Terrence McNally's Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune with Joe Pantoliano.
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