Video by Alessandra Hickson
Actress Rosie Perez has had a career most would envy – with roles in iconic films like “Do the Right Thing” and ‘Riding in Cars with Boys.” The Puerto Rican star is quick to say she knew from an early age she would be successful.
“I don’t believe that you can ignore your past, but you can get past your past. It’s still a part of you,” says Perez, who was born and raised in Brooklyn. “Yes, I had a very difficult childhood, but I always knew that I had the ability to succeed.”
Perez – who most recently appeared in “The Counselor” – wants others to be inspired by the challenges she’s overcome. She’s a spokesperson for a new campaign with Pine Sol; a program called “When Life Gets Tough, Women Rise Above It” that encourages girls and women to share their stories of adversity conquered.
“I think there’s a lot of shame in downplaying it, downplaying your strength, downplaying your achievements,” says Perez, whose upcoming memoir will be released in February 2014. “I’m sure there are a lot of women out there who downplay their success or downplay their abilities,” she says, adding women downplay their strength and their courage, as well as their grace and their wisdom.
“And it’s time for that to stop. It’s time to say ‘I did it,'” says Perez. She herself persevered through the challenges of having grown up in the child welfare system, then finding her way to Hollywood and emerging as one of Latino Hollywood’s larger-than-life icons. But when asked whom she admires, she is quick with a response.
“I like almost every song of Beyoncé – she is fantastic,” shares Perez. “When I was a choreographer that probably would have been my prototype of this is how you should be as a pop star. I think she is an amazing pop star and in my book she can just do no wrong. And she’s worldwide and she can bring it …I love her and she’s fun.”
And if there’s one thing that she and Beyoncé share, it’s their mutual ability to inspire women and girls to achieve beyond their circumstances. That’s what Perez wants to leave behind as her legacy – and she’s not afraid to say so.
“I always knew I had it in me. I always knew and it was tough. And that’s not being pompous, or arrogant,” says Perez. “That’s with great humility.”
Yet she is firm about the need to move forward. “Own it. Just take it and say yes I will be great, I am going to be great. Great doesn’t mean being a movie star, great doesn’t mean having millions of dollars.”
“Great means being able to be confident, strong, and a solid human being that has dignity and integrity. That is great.”
Watch the video to learn what TV character Perez would most like to play and learn about the dreams she had of stardom when she was young.