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Rosario Dawson

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: May 9, 1979 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Prior to being literally plucked off the street to star in Larry Clark's controversial "Kids" (1995), actress Rosario Dawson exhibited little interest in what became her eventual career. The 15-year-old was discovered on the front steps of her building by the director, a life-changing event for a young girl still trying to figure out what life had to offer outside the confines of New York City. Ever since her breakthrough performance, which attracted the attention of numerous critics, as well as Hollywood, Dawson ran the film gamut, starring in such critically-appreciated independents like "He Got Game" (1998) and "25th Hour" (2002), and Hollywood duds like "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" (2002) and "Alexander" (2004). But her exotic good looks - she had an usual mix of Cuban, Puerto Rican, Irish and Native American descent - gave Dawson the opportunity to explore a variety of roles without being typecast, leading to films as divergent as "Rent" (2005), "Sin City" (2005) and "Grindhouse" (2007) - resulting in a vibrant career in which she was able to chart her own path.Born on May 9, 1979 in New York, NY, Dawson was raised by her father, Greg, a construction worker and her mother, Isabelle, a...

Prior to being literally plucked off the street to star in Larry Clark's controversial "Kids" (1995), actress Rosario Dawson exhibited little interest in what became her eventual career. The 15-year-old was discovered on the front steps of her building by the director, a life-changing event for a young girl still trying to figure out what life had to offer outside the confines of New York City. Ever since her breakthrough performance, which attracted the attention of numerous critics, as well as Hollywood, Dawson ran the film gamut, starring in such critically-appreciated independents like "He Got Game" (1998) and "25th Hour" (2002), and Hollywood duds like "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" (2002) and "Alexander" (2004). But her exotic good looks - she had an usual mix of Cuban, Puerto Rican, Irish and Native American descent - gave Dawson the opportunity to explore a variety of roles without being typecast, leading to films as divergent as "Rent" (2005), "Sin City" (2005) and "Grindhouse" (2007) - resulting in a vibrant career in which she was able to chart her own path.

Born on May 9, 1979 in New York, NY, Dawson was raised by her father, Greg, a construction worker and her mother, Isabelle, a professional vocalist. Her upbringing, however, was anything but conventional. When she was six, her parents became squatters in an empty building which they spent years transforming into a habitable living space by rewiring the electricity and drawing water from a nearby fire hydrant. Some years later, while hanging out with friends on the stoop of her building, Dawson attracted the attention of screenwriter Harmony Korinne and controversial director Larry Clark, who had heard the 15-year-old laughing uproariously. Almost on the spot, she was cast in "Kids" (1995), Clark's dark and much-criticized look at New York teenagers indulging in sex, drugs and endless amounts of trouble. The unseasoned Dawson was a standout amongst the ensemble cast, playing Ruby, a free-speaking sexually promiscuous teen who tests negative for HIV, while her best friend, Jeannie (Chloë Sevigny), is not so lucky. "Kids" was both praised and derided for its depiction of American urban youth, making Dawson in demand with a much larger audience than was expected. Though her performance was appropriately chilling, it was her unsettlingly attractive appearance that separated her from the rest.

Despite the initial impact she made with her debut performance, Dawson remained uncertain about what to do next, even though agents and casting directors were banging on her door. She spent some time away from distractions in Texas, then was encouraged by her grandmother to study acting at the acclaimed Lee Strasberg Institute. She then landed her next major role in Spike Lee's "He Got Game" (1998), playing a bewitching, but opportunistic girlfriend to an uncommonly talented basketball player (Ray Allen) eager to get her share of his potential fame and wealth. After appearing in the New York-based episodic comedy "Side Streets" (1998), Dawson paired up with Prince for his timely re-release of his 1980s hit single, "1999." The remixed version featured Dawson in an introductory voiceover, offering commentary on the state of the world on the cusp of a new millennium. Later that year, she was featured in the New York City high school hostage drama "Light It Up" (1999), playing a brainy, cool-headed student trying to encourage moderation in an explosive situation. Meanwhile, her first stab at lighthearted romantic comedy fare proved disappointing after a small role as a stoner in "Down to You" (2000).

Despite the setback of "Down to You," Dawson's career was assuredly on the rise. She landed a co-starring role in the Edward Burns romantic comedy "Sidewalks of New York" (2000), then was cast as Valerie in the live-action adaptation of "Josie and the Pussycats" (2001). Dawson made the jump to blockbuster territory with the summer sequel hit "Men In Black II" (2002), playing a waitress who lures the attention of Agent Jay (Will Smith) after witnessing an alien attack at her restaurant. She next made the mistake of starring as a naïve, futuristic singer who gets involved with a retired smuggler and nightclub owner (Eddie Murphy) in "The Adventures of Pluto Nash" (2002), one of the biggest box office disasters of all time. Dawson fared much better as the girlfriend of a man (Edward Norton) spending his last day of freedom before doing a seven-year prison sting in Spike Lee's excellent crime drama "The 25th Hour" (2002). Following her breakup with rap mogul Jay-Z that same year, Dawson played a South American rebel leader in "The Rundown" (2003), before a small part in "Shattered Glass" (2003).

Dawson delivered a fiery performance as Alexander the Great's (Colin Farrell) hellcat wife Roxanne, which - along with her erotic, but violently charged nude scenes - were among the best elements in "Alexander" (2004), Oliver Stone's failed epic about the conflicted conqueror struggling to find purpose through never-ending imperial conquest. As the niece of a professional cartoonist, Dawson was naturally drawn to appear in director Robert Rodriguez's visually arresting adaptation of writer-artist Frank Miller's crime noir comic book series "Sin City" (2005), playing the dominatrix prostitute/"warrior woman" Gail in "The Big Fat Kill" sequence. She then had an arresting, carnally-charged turn as the alluring heroin-addicted dancer Mimi Marquez in the big screen adaptation of the smash Broadway musical "Rent" (2005), revealing an aptitude for song and dance. Although the film's cast was populated by many of the stage play's original players, Dawson pulled the rug out from under them all. Returning to her low-budget roots, she played the owner of a fast food joint who develops feelings for career-slacker Dante Hicks (Brian O'Halloran) after a one-night stand in Kevin Smith's "Clerks II" (2006).

After co-starring in "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" (2006), a low-budget drama about a successful writer (Robert Downey, Jr.) returning home to Astoria, Queens, where he encounters the ghosts of his turbulent past, Dawson was one of four friends (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Tracie Thoms and Zoë Bell) stalked by a psychopathic stuntman (Kurt Russell) who mows people down with his '69 Dodge Charger in the "Death Proof" segment of "Grindhouse" (2007), directed by Quentin Tarantino. Dawson made the jump to actor-producer on "Descent" (2007), an independent drama about a bright and promising young college student (Dawson) whose life falls apart after being brutally raped by a frat boy (Chad Faust). She next had a successful stint in blockbuster territory with "Eagle Eye" (2008), a techno-thriller about two strangers (Shia LaBeouf and Michelle Monaghan) brought together by a mysterious phone call that leads both down an increasingly dangerous path to them becoming fugitives. Dawson next co-starred in "Seven Pounds" (2008), playing a woman with a heart condition who complicates a guilt-ridden IRS agent's (Will Smith) plans for suicide after he falls in love with her.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Gimme Shelter (2014)
2.
 Ever After, The (2014)
3.
4.
5.
 Banana Republic (2014)
6.
 Trance (2013)
7.
 Boondoggle, The (2013)
8.
 Raze (2013)
9.
 Hotel Noir (2012)
10.
 Five (2011)
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in downtown Manhattan
1995:
Made feature debut with supporting role in "Kids"
1998:
Co-starred as the opportunistic girlfriend of basketball star Jesus in Spike Lee drama "He Got Game"
1998:
Featured in New York City-set episodic comedy feature "Side Streets"
1999:
Contributed introductory voiceover commentary to Prince's remixed timely release of his hit "1999"
1999:
Played a cool-headed student with high aspirations in "Light It Up"
2002:
Acted in Ethan Hawke's feature directorial debut "Chelsea Walls"
2000:
Cast in supporting role in romantic comedy "Down to You"
2000:
Featured in Edward Burns directed romance "Sidewalks of New York"
2001:
Cast as rocker Valerie in live action adaptation of popular cartoon series "Josie and the Pussycats"
2002:
Cast alongside Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones in hit summer sequel "Men In Black II"
2002:
Starred opposite Eddie Murphy in sci-fi comedy "The Adventures of Pluto Nash"
2002:
Appeareed in Spike Lee's ensemble crime drama "The 25th Hour"
2003:
Co-starred in "Shattered Glass," based on the true story of <i>New Republic</i> journalist Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen)
2003:
Featured with Seann William Scott and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson in "The Rundown"
2004:
Co-starred in Oliver Stone's "Alexander" as Roxane, the wife of Alexander (Colin Farrell)
2005:
Co-starred in feature adaptation of Frank Miller's uber-noir series of graphic novels "Sin City"; co-directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez
2005:
Played Mimi Marquez, an HIV-positive exotic dancer and drug addict in big-screen adaptation of Jonathan Larson's Tony Award-winning musical "Rent"
2006:
Cast in Kevin Smith's "Clerks ll" the sequel to his 1994 film
2006:
Co-created (with friend David Atchison) comic book <i>Occult Crimes Task Force</i>
2007:
Apeared in "Death Proof," Quentin Tarantino's half of gore-tastic double feature "Grind House" (a collaboration with Robert Rodriguez)
2007:
Reunited with Wilson Jermaine Heredia and Tracie Thoms, her "Rent" co-stars for drama thriller "Descent"
2008:
Played a woman with a heart condition who falls in love with Will Smith in drama "Seven Pounds"
2010:
Cast as Persephone, goddess of Springtime and Queen of the Dead in film adaptation "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"
2010:
Co-starred with Chris Pine and Denzel Washington in thriller "Unstoppable"
2011:
Played Kevin James' love interest in "Zookeeper"
2011:
Cast alongside Channing Tatum and Chris Pratt in high school reunion drama "10 Years"
2011:
Joined all-star cast for Lifetime anthology movie "Five"
2013:
Co-starred with James McAvoy in Danny Boyle drama-thriller "Trance"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Rosario Dawson has described her ethnic background as Puerto Rican, Black, Cuban, Irish and Native American.

On her Ferris wheel-set love scene with Ray Allen in "He Got Game": "Ray had Maalox on his breath. He had this motion sickness thing, and I'm doing the nasty to him. I'm like, 'This is beautiful.'"---Dawson quoted in Details, October 1999.

Dawson on comparisons to Jennifer Lopez: "It's hard when I'm compared to someone whom I have a likeness to. You don't compare other actresses like that. There's going to be a time when I won't have to be put under someone else or replace someone else. I'm hoping, as our careers expand, people will see the difference and stop comparing us just because we're Puerto Rican, which is ridiculous."---quoted in Austin's Insite Magazine, November 1999.

Dawson on landing her debut screen role in "Kids": "I was like 'You're picking people off the street? Obviously this movie is not going anywhere.'" --quoted in E! Online's "Sizzlin' Sixteen 2000" feature.

"I'm very fortunate in that all I ever have to do is do research and travel and meet new people and explore different viewpoints. I'm constantly putting myself in other people's shoes and constantly challenged to go past my own prejudices. I think it's unfortunate that celebrity has been marred so much by just talking about who people are sleeping with and what lipstick they're wearing. We have a very unique experience of the world, travelling the way we do and being exposed to other cultures."---Dawson to Empire Magazine 2003

"For a long time it felt like I snuck in and someone was going to figure me out. It wasn't like I've wanted to be an actor my whole life. I didn't have any particular aspiration to be hugely famous or be in magazines all the time."---Dawson to Movieline's Hollywood Life, February/March 2005.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Jay-Z. Rapper. Dating as of fall 2000; no longer together as of September 2002.
companion:
Josh Jackson. Actor. Dating as of Septmeber 2002.
companion:
Cris Judd. Dancer. Rumored to be dating as of December 2002.
companion:
Jason Lewis. Actor. Rumored to be dating as of July 2004.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Isabel Dawson.

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