Rosario Dawson

Active - 1995 - 2021  |   Born - May 9, 1979 in New York, New York, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Action

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Biography by Rebecca Flint Marx

New York-born and bred actress Rosario Dawson made her screen debut in Larry Clark's controversial Kids (1995). Literally picked off the street to play Ruby, one of the film's titular teens, Dawson -- who is of Puerto Rican, Cuban, Black, Irish, and Native American heritage -- had never acted before being cast in the film. Following Kids, she next appeared in Spike Lee's He Got Game (1998) and that same year starred in Side Streets, a series of vignettes about life in New York's five boroughs. Faithful to her New York roots through and through, Dawson has continued to star in films set in her hometown, including Light It Up and Down to You.

Soon, Dawson branched into mainstream film, appearing in populist projects like Josie and the Pussycats, Men in Black 2, The Rundown, and the big-screen adaptation of Rent. The actress would also appear in harder films, like Sin City and Death Proof, as well as damanding dramatic roles, like that of a rape victim struggling to recover in Descent.

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  • Describes her ethnicity as black, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Irish and Native American.
  • Studied acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York City.
  • Contributed to the voice-over commentary on the remix of Prince's hit "1999" when she was 20.
  • Replaced Halle Berry in the 2002 film The Adventures of Pluto Nash.
  • Took guitar lessons from Joshua Jackson and Eddie Murphy. Was arrested outside the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004 while filming a scene for the film This Revolution when she refused to get out of the street. Cofounded Voto Latino, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that encourages people to vote. Made her stage debut in 2005 in the Public Theater's revival of the 1971 musical Two Gentlemen of Verona in Central Park. Returned to her roots for the movie musical Rent (2005), set on Manhattan's Lower East Side (the neighborhood in which she grew up). Was a keynote speaker at the 2009 National Conference on the Primary Prevention of Men's Violence Against Women in Washington, D.C.