Rosario Dawson has starred in popular films including “Sin City,” “25th Hour,” and “Down to You,” but the role she’s most proud of is that of activist and advocate. Xfinity Latino caught up with the NAACP Image Award winner to talk about her work with Voto Latino, how she hopes to change the world, and why Latinos should support films like her most recent project, “Cesar Chavez.”
As a talented and successful actress, you don’t need to be involved in all the charity work you do but you do it. What is your motivation?
“I was raised that way. It was a natural thing for me seeing people who were struggling, helping each other out. I’ve seen people do some pretty remarkable things for others, including in my own life. There are people who stepped in and were a good influence on me, mentored me, and who encouraged me. It was really a natural thing to become an activist and an advocate long before I became an actor, so I’d be doing it no matter what.
After becoming an actor there was this public influence I was able to use giving me a much wider reach. For me, it’s about looking at the opportunities that allow me to do this. I’m super excited about what I can do. So no it’s not like I’m working at a shelter 24/7, year after year. But I can help promote that shelter and raise funds for that shelter. I still get to participate and am able to help which makes me feel really blessed.”
Do you think more celebrities should get involved?
“Sometimes celebrities view things like this and think it’s this whole extra thing and just too much. I’m like, ‘are you serious? This is nothing!’ Our contribution and what we can do is so huge especially when you consider the time and effort that it takes is really not that significant. Even if everyone were to pick up just one cause or one thing it could make such a tremendous impact on our communities, our world, our families and our own lives. That’s just what I hope to be an example of because I had those examples growing up that led me to take this path.”
Voto Latino is targeting Millennials. Why is their participation so important right now?
“The younger you are when you get involved it becomes this thing that you do. No matter what job you do you can at some point donate, help or engage in some way. If everyone was raised to do that, the world would be a really different place. Even for those that are too young to vote. You have Dreamers out there who are knocking on doors asking people to vote. That is remarkable! When I see people like that, I’m so encouraged and inspired. It makes me think, ‘what excuse do I have not to be going out there and using whatever power I have to help out.’
These kids are dying to have this kind of opportunity around the world; to have a voice. So it’s exciting for me when someone puts a microphone in my hand to support them and help amplify those voices especially since I had people that helped amplify mine. There’s nobody on this planet who can say, ‘I can’t give. I don’t have enough.’ I grew up with some of the poorest of the poor who always gave. Even if it meant just to water down the Bustelo a little bit so we could all have a bit of coffee then that’s what we’re going to do.”
How can they get involved?
“I learned about being a tutor and its importance because I had young college students come tudor us at school when I was little. This is something else we’re trying to encourage millennials to do. When you’re tutoring someone, you’re teaching them but you’re also learning it better.”
“There are 95 million millennials out there with 2/3 supporting legalizing marijuana and 2/3 support gay marriage. This is the most diverse group we’ve ever seen and this is changing the game and changing history naturally. This is that moment of change— a critical moment of change. It’s a very exciting time. That’s what I love about the Dreamers, it’s not a question of if, it’s a matter of when.”
It’s also an exciting time in Hollywood for Latinos. It’s about time that Latinos are able to tell their own stories on the big screen. Why is it important for the community to support projects like this?
“Unfortunately there isn’t enough support for our stories. I mean as soon as it comes out on DVD or cable I’ll have everyone excited about it. Everyone will watch it at a certain point because I understand that it’s expensive to go to the movies. I heard a statistic, though I’m not sure how current it is, that people see an average of ten movies at the theaters a year. I imagine that today that number could even be much smaller. Unlike in New York or other cities where you can walk to the theaters, you’re going to have to drive there. You’ll probably go with your family or friends which means that when you show up you’re all going to want to watch the same movie which will probably one of these big tent films. So that hurts our smaller films. Our numbers on “Cesar Chavez” were pretty close to “Instructions Not Included,” but they could have been much higher if people had shown up to theaters and supported it then.
We need those numbers. Why? Because then Hollywood might say, ‘Snap! Let’s stop saying no to those types of movies. Let’s support them and start funding them.” People are going to keep making the movies people are paying to watch. It’s a machine, it’s a business. There are a lot of talented and creative people out there but the reality is that most of the time, the people that are making those money decisions based off of figures. We need people to support the business aspect of it. Don’t just be a consumer, be an innovator.”