Who Is Rosario Dawson?
Born on May 9, 1979, in New York City, actress Rosario Dawson was discovered at age 15 and cast in the edgy 1995 flick Kids, about teens indulging in sex and drugs. She's gone on to star in a wide spectrum of independent and feature films, including Sin City, Rent and Grindhouse. Also an outspoken activist for various causes, Dawson co-founded Voto Latino to encourage Latinos to register and vote.
On May 9, 1979, Rosario Isabel Dawson was born in New York City to singer Isabel Celeste. Her biological father, Patrick Harris, was never part of the picture. Greg Dawson, her construction worker stepfather, helped raise Dawson from birth. (Her unique ethnicity is a mix of Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican, Irish and Native American.)
Dawson's upbringing was anything but traditional. At the age of 6, her family became squatters in an empty building because they couldn't afford rent, and this living situation would continue for years for the future actress and her family.
Discovered for 'Kids'
At the age of 15, Rosario Dawson was hanging out with friends in front of her building when she caught the attention of director Larry Clark. He cast her in his controversial movie, Kids, alongside a young Chloë Sevigny. Dawson played a sexually promiscuous teen in the gritty tale about urban youth. Though the film's subject matter was shocking to audiences and critics alike, the actress's performance was a standout that set her showbiz career in motion.
Movies and TV Shows
'He Got Game,' 'Josie and the Pussycats'
Dawson's unique multicultural background and acting talent, along with training from the Lee Strasberg Institute, helped prevent her from being typecast in Hollywood. Three years after Kids, Dawson appeared in Spike Lee's He Got Game (1998), with Denzel Washington and basketball star Ray Allen, and she followed in 2001 with a prominent role in Josie and the Pussycats, based on the popular 1970s cartoon of the same name.
'Men in Black II,' 'Sin City,' 'Rent'
More roles followed in bigger productions, including Men in Black II (2002), Sin City (2005), Rent (2005), Eagle Eye (2008) and Unstoppable (2010). Additional credits include Chavez (2013), about civil rights activist Cesar Chavez; the Sin City sequel Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014); and the Chris Rock comedy Top Five (2014).
'Gemini Division,' 'The Lego Batman Movie'
Between making movies, the actress has dabbled in television, appearing on such series as the Syfy network's Gemini Division. She has also found a niche in animated work, providing the voice for Wonder Woman in multiple Justice League projects and Batgirl in The Lego Batman Movie (2017).
'Jane the Virgin,' 'Zombieland: Double Tap,' 'Briarpatch'
After landing a recurring role in the CW's Jane the Virgin for the final two seasons, Dawson joined Jane star Gina Rodriguez for the Netflix feature Someone Great in spring 2019, before appearing in Zombieland: Double Tap that fall. The following year, she began headlining the TV drama Briarpatch, as an investigator looking for her sister's killer.
As with many other actresses, Dawson has made headlines for her love life. Earlier in her career she was romantically linked to actor Joshua Jackson, rapper Jay-Z and director Danny Boyle, and she later was involved with comedian and actor Eric Andre.
In June 2018, Dawson seemingly made an announcement about her sexuality with an Instagram post that read, "happy pride month! sending love to my fellow lgbtq+ homies." By March 2019, however, she confirmed that she was in a relationship with New Jersey senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker.
In a February 2020 interview with Bustle, Dawson said she identified as a member of the queer community but added, "I've never had a relationship in that space, so it's never felt like an authentic calling to me."
In addition to acting, Dawson is known as a passionate political activist, devoting her time to making a difference in the world. She has helped fundraise for the Lower Eastside Girls Club (located where she grew up) and launched Voto Latino to get the Latino youth active in the political process.
Dawson also spoke at the 2009 National Conference on the Primary Prevention of Men's Violence Against Women in Washington, D.C., and served as honorary host of the fourth annual "Our Voices: Celebrating Diversity in Media" event at the White House Correspondents' Dinner in 2013.
"Changes are not easy to bring about, and it takes people bravely going into it and fighting for it," Dawson told Stylist. "Collaborating is really the key."
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