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.
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.
Making Major Movies
Dawson's unique multicultural background and acting talent, along with training from the Lee Strasberg Institute, helped her from being typecast in Hollywood. Six years after Kids, Dawson landed her first feature-film role in Josie and the Pussycats (2001), based on the popular 1970s cartoon of the same name. More roles followed in bigger productions, including Men In Black II (2002), Sin City (2005), Eagle Eye (2008) and Unstoppable (2010).
More recent 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 Finally Famous.
Dawson is known for never straying far from her indie roots by continuing to do such low-budget flicks as Clerks II (2006). Between making movies, the actress has dabbled in television, appearing on such series as the Syfy network's Gemini Division.
As with many other actresses, Dawson has made headlines for her love life. She has been romantically linked to Fringe's Joshua Jackson, Sex and the City's Jason Lewis (whom she lived with for several years), singer Jay-Z and director Danny Boyle, among others. In 2013, rumors circulated about the starlet's alleged relationship with actor Michael Fassbender.
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.co.uk. "Collaborating is really the key."
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