Early lifeDawson was born May 9, 1979 in New York City. Her mother, Isabel Celeste, is a writer and singer of Puerto Rican and Afro-Cuban descent. Rosario's biological father, Patrick C. Harris. When she was eighteen, she married Greg Dawson, a construction worker, who "loved and raised Rosario as his own daughter" (Dawson has stated that "He's always been my dad"). Rosario Dawson has one younger brother, Clay (b. 1983). Her parents divorced in 2006.
At the age of 26, Dawson's mother moved the family into an abandoned building squat on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where she and her husband gut renovated an apartment and installed the plumbing and electrical wiring for the building, creating affordable housing where their family and two children would grow up. Dawson has cited this when explaining how she learned "If you wanted something better, you had to do it yourself."
CareerAs a child, Dawson made a brief appearance on Sesame Street. At the age of 15, she was subsequently discovered on her front porch step by photographer Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, where Harmony lauded her as being perfect for a part he had written in his screenplay that would become the controversial 1995 film Kids. She went on to star in varied roles, ranging from independent films to big budget blockbusters including Rent, He Got Game, and Men in Black II.
In 1999, Dawson teamed up with Prince for the re-release of his 1980s hit "1999." The new remixed version featured the actress in an introductory voice over, offering commentary on the state of the world in the year before the new millennium. The same year, she appeared in The Chemical Brothers' video for the song "Out of Control" from the album Surrender. She is also featured on the track "She Lives In My Lap" from the second disc of the OutKast album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, in which she speaks the intro and a brief interlude towards the end. In 2001, Rosario appeared in the movie, Josie and the Pussycats
Dawson starred as "Naturelle," the love interest of a convicted drug dealer played by Edward Norton, in the 2002 Spike Lee film drama, 25th Hour. In the 2004 Oliver Stone film Alexander, she played the bride of Alexander the Great. In the autumn of 2005, Dawson appeared on stage as Julia in the Public Theater's "Shakespeare in the Park" revival of Two Gentlemen of Verona. It was her first appearance on stage. “That park is so beautiful,” she said of New York's Central Park.
Rent in 2005, she played the exotic dancer Mimi Marquez, replacing the original Mimi, Daphne Rubin-Vega, who was pregnant and unable to play the part. She also appeared in the adaptation of the graphic novel Sin City, co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller where she played Gail, a prostitute-dominatrix. Also in that year, she appeared in a graphically violent scene in the Rob Zombie film The Devil's Rejects. Though the scene was cut from the final film, it is available in the deleted scenes on the DVD release.
She starred as Becky in 2006's Clerks II, and mentioned in Back to the Well, the making-of documentary, that the donkey show sequence was what made her decide to take the role. In May of the same year, Dawson, an avid comic book fan, co-created the comic book miniseries Occult Crimes Taskforce. She was at the 2007 Comic-Con to promote the comic. She co-starred with former Rent alum Tracie Thoms in the Quentin Tarantino throwback movie Death Proof in 2007, part of the Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double feature Grind House. She teamed up with friend Talia Lugacy, whom she met at the Lee Strasberg Academy, to produce and star in Descent. On July 7, 2007, Dawson presented at the American leg of Live Earth.
In 2008, Dawson starred with Will Smith in Seven Pounds and in the Steven Spielberg produced Eagle Eye. Beginning in August, she starred in Gemini Division, an online-based TV series. In the computer animated series Afterworld she voiced the character Officer Delondre Baines. On January 17, 2009, Dawson hosted Saturday Night Live. Later in the year, she voiced the character of Artemis in the animated Wonder Woman film.
In 2009, Dawson performed in The People Speak, a documentary feature film that uses dramatic and musical performances of the letters, diaries, and speeches of everyday Americans, based on historian Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States.
In 2009, Dawson also voiced the character of Velvet Von Black in Rob Zombie's animated feature, The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto
For the Kasabian album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, she is featured singing on the track, "West Ryder Silver Bullet."
In 2010, she starred in the movies Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, as Persephone, and Unstoppable, as railway yardmaster Connie.
Dawson appeared at the 2010 MTV VMAs on September 12, 2010.
Dawson is a supporter of Arsenal Football Club. On February 16, 2011, before an Arsenal FC vs FC Barcelona UEFA Champions League match, Dawson wrote on her official Twitter account: "I'll be happy with either team winning cuz I love them both but yes I'm a Gunner first & foremost sooooo #gooooArsenal."
Awards and nominations
- 2006, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Rent) Nominated
- 2004, Rising Star Award Won
- Black Movie Awards
- 2006, Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Rent) Nominated
- 2006, Best Actress (Rent) Nominated
- 2006, Best Ensemble (Rent) Nominated
- 2006, Best Supporting Actress (Sin City) Nominated
- 2003, Best Supporting Actress (25th Hour) Nominated
- 2000, Best Actress (Light It Up) Nominated
- Broadcast Film Critics
- 2006, Best Song (Rent) "Seasons of Love" Nominated
- 2009, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Seven Pounds) Won
- 2006, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Rent) Nominated
- 2000, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Light It Up) Nominated
- 2006, Best Kiss (Sin City) Nominated
- 2006, Best Supporting Actress Comedy or Musical (Rent) Won
- 2006, Gamer's Choice: Breakthrough Performance Won
- 2009, Best Female Actor in a Dramatic Web Series Won
- 2001, Film - Choice Breakout Performance (Josie and the Pussycats) Nominated
- 2010, Choice Movie Actress: Fantasy (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) Nominated