Rosario Dawson, the 41-year old, Puerto Rican/Afro-Cuban actress and activist invited HOLA! to spend a very special day with her, in a very loving setting surrounded by family and friends. Rosario opened up to us about her childhood memories and of her grandmother, her recent challenges, and her passion for her social enterprise, Studio 189, which she co-founded with her friend Abrima Erwiah.
The photoshoot took place at the beautiful N.J. home of her friend Jerry Duplessis, the Haitian musician and producer, and bass guitarist for the Fugees. They share a close friendship, and along with her mom’s presence, made the interview feel like a warm family gathering, filled with dancing and laughter, which is something her mom missed during these Covid-19 times.
This day was also very significant and emotional, as it marked the 10th anniversary of Rosario’s grandmother‘s passing. Both Rosario and her mom talked about her (Mami and Mima) throughout the photoshoot and expressed their deep love for her. Her mother, Isabel Celeste mentioned how proud her mother would be of Rosario’s success as a Latina in the film industry, with all her work as an activist, and now with her new clothing line for social change that will empower communities through education and training.
“Today is a beautiful day. We celebrate my mother‘s transition and today is 10 years of missing her and honoring her and supporting her. I’m really happy HOLA! is doing this. It is a Portada Latina and Mami was a very proud latina!” - Isabel Celeste
Growing up between Brooklyn and the Lower East Side in the 80’s and 90’s was such a brilliant education. The juxtapositions of the boroughs and upstate, living among people from differing cultures, classes, ages and more who together shared their wisdom, talents, experiences, struggles and dreams made up the place that I always felt lucky to call home. Block parties, organizing, board walk/ beach days, and long walks, make up eclectic memories which were often times delicious. I love how you can still go to a “hole in the wall” and have the best meal.
All my thanks go to my mom and dad, who have always raised me to speak up and speak out. Growing up in the Lower East Side during the 1988 Tompkins Square Park Police Riot, gave me incredible insight into the many grim layers of this world but also how a community can unite. It was a rebuke of the system that was attempting to gentrify some of the most underserved communities.
“I will forever be grateful to have captured that special moment on film with HOLA. My grandmother was a force to be reckoned with.” - Rosario Dawson
I love my mom and brother and all my family deeply. The day of the photoshoot was the ten-year anniversary of my maternal grandmother “Mima” Isabel‘s passing. It was incredibly powerful to be with my mom on that day reflecting on how much has changed since then including becoming a mother myself. I will forever be grateful to have captured that special moment on film with HOLA! My grandmother was a force to be reckoned with. Her superpower was celebrating her family, whether it be in life events, holidays, or spending time together. She always made it clear the importance of slowing down and being present, marking rights of passage and staying connected always. To that end, we had the honor of remembering her legacy by welcoming two precious gifts into our family over the past month. My brother with his union to his long-time best friend, where I can finally say, “I have a sister!!” and the arrival of my new baby cousin into the world.
Kids (1995) – I was discovered on the stoop of the abandoned building my family and I were living in when I was 15. It captured the experiences of the New York latch key kids and covered important subjects such as, rape, hiv, and aids. Kids opened my eyes to the opportunity of storytelling as a means of sharing and exploring issues of critical importance. It was remarkable to see aspects of my community‘s life on screen with such wild, unapologetic rawness. It serves as such a time capsule. It encouraged the artist within me and helped me indulge a passion that I feel blessed to continue to be challenged in while also being able to support my family. It has been an unparalleled experience.
To channel my energy, I first have to look inward through meditation, going into nature on walks or hikes or gardening or biking. Anything that incorporates the energy of Mother Earth is revitalizing and invigorating. To find the answers to any and all questions, it is about trusting yourself and your intuition. Listen to your gut.
Initially we met at a mutual friend’s fundraiser in California, that CAB (Senator Cory Anthony Booker) was speaking at. Then a few months later he found himself back in CA and we connected at another mutual friend’s rooftop party. We both closed out the party and talked into the wee hours of the morning. We fell in love, long distance, over the phone.
The pandemic has been difficult having faced such incredible loss. It put into perspective that time spent together is what is most valuable. In the midst of the pandemic, I moved cross country with my Dad to be with my love and to be closer to my family to prioritize time together. Being very intentional has been energizing; to slow down, build in time to breathe and take in the sights. What is your life really but a reflection of your time -- and what I would like my time to show is that I spent it connecting with the people closest to me and that we supported each other to be happy and healthy. The present truly is a gift.
“What is your life really but a reflection of your time -- and what I would like my time to show is that I spent it connecting with the people closest to me and that we supported each other to be happy and healthy. The present truly is a gift.” - Rosario Dawson
We (Studio 189) are a line based between New York and Ghana. We are focused on being a conscious, ethical, sustainable, no waste, fashion brand that upcycles, recycles, supports regenerative farming and is firmly rooted in defining fashion as an agent of social change. It is my partner and bestie, Abrima Erwiah’s and I’s vision to represent a directional shift in this industry where we’re accountable to creating beautiful works of art that recognizes everyone along the supply chain. We have the honor to collaborate with talented artisans and seamstresses, models, photographers, designers, students, etc that inspire us and challenge us to keep building and creating. Fashion has been another way to commemorate my family’s heritage. My Great Grandmother, Celestina, whom my mother is named after, was a seamstress and part of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Her salary as a seamstress was able to finance my grandmother to get an education as a typist, which would later help her in having a career as a secretary, with benefits and a pension to support her family. Fashion is an agent of change, and this process has helped me appreciate the beautiful circularity of life.
It was so wonderful to watch David Oyelowo’s directorial debut THE WATERMAN in theaters with my family after so long not being able to gather together. We had the theater to ourselves and it was so incredible to be taken on such a vibrant and moving journey who’s message is so prescient, love each other in the present time that you have now. It’s a beautiful family film that David directed with such empathy and emotional intelligence. I’m currently in Georgia completing filming on Ava DuVernays comic book adaptation of DMZ. She, like David, leads with such love and I’m so excited to play together.
“Studio 189 is focused on being a conscious, ethical, sustainable, no waste, fashion brand that upcycles, recycles, supports regenerative farming and is firmly rooted in defining fashion as an agent of social change.” - Rosario Dawson
Voto Latino, the voting org I co-founded in 2004 is gearing up for the midterms and making sure people are accessing vaccine information and The Child Tax Credit. The miniseries DOPESICK that I recently wrapped for HULU in VA, should be coming out at the end of the year. That’s around when Abrima and I will also be showing our latest Studio 189 collection which we are designing right now. We’ve got some great partnerships to announce soon…!
- Photographer: Jesus Cordero
- Fashion stylist: Jason Rembert
- Makeup: Shanell
- Hair stylist: Zoe Verdejo
- Behind the scenes video and music: Jalen James