Since she was a child, Rosario Dawson was not one to sit on the sidelines and watch life pass her by. On the contrary, she has always been able to play versatile roles throughout her life, and she does them all well.
As a little girl she appeared on “Sesame Street,” and at 15, she got a part in the controversial film, “Kids.” To date, the award-winning actress has acted in nearly 50 feature films, including “Rent” (2005) and “Seven Pounds” (2008). She also actively supports organizations such as Oxfam, Amnesty International, and Youth AIDS, among others.
When she saw that there are roughly 9 million American Latino youth in the U.S., but only a small fraction vote, and that by 2050, Latino youth are expected to comprise 29 percent of the U.S. youth population, she decided to stand up and do something about it.
“The issues that are affecting our communities are so diverse, and they cannot be handled by just one person,” says the 33-year-old Dawson.
In 2004, she founded Voto Latino — a non-partisan organization that aims to increase civic engagement among Latinos nationwide by engaging youth, media, technology and celebrities to promote positive change.
Voto Latino has been successful in registering more than 120,000 young Latino voters, and in urging Latino youth and their families to be counted in the 2010 Census.
“As Voto Latino, we’re not just a voter registration organization, we are really into getting people excited about being civically participatory,” says Dawson. “We are a platform and we are a space for community.”
She says it gives her joy to see more Latinos getting more and more politically active themselves, as this is key to keeping the conversation going.
“Let’s use this election year as an opportunity to connect with each other,” says Dawson about the November presidential election. “You have to think outside of the box in figuring out what your place is and what your ideas are and really network with each other.”
She says it’s important to gather our strengths as individuals, and then see how we can make a difference as a group.
“When you connect to what your real power is, the joy that comes from that, the creativity, the connections that come, this is the stuff of memories. This is the stuff of dreams.”