Rosie Perez

Rosie Perez is a Puerto Rican actress and activist that had a hard childhood before her talent and love for dancing changed her life forever.

Rosie Perez is an actress, choreographer, and dancer that was born in 1964 in Brooklyn, New York City, and to parents born in Puerto Rico. Perez’s life story began with hardships and as a young girl she never really had a mom or solid home. Her mother Lydia Perez had 5 children when she began having an affair with her father Ismael Serrano, a merchant marine. She went on to have 4 more children and Rosie and her siblings grew up in Bushwick while her mother was intermittently jailed.

For a short time, Rosie was raised by her aunt before being placed in the foster care system. Her father attempted to gain custody but was unable to and she eventually moved in with an aunt. Rosie attended high school and was a student at Los Angeles City College where she had plans to major in biochemistry. She relieved her stress from school by going to ladies nights which as a result started her career. When she was 19 a talent scout who saw her dancing at the nightclub approached Rosie and asked her to be on the wildly popular dance show Soul Train. She loved it so much she dropped out of college and danced on the show in the 1980s.

Soul Train Dancer Rosie Perez on the dance floor.©GettyImages
Rosie Perez on the dance floor of Soul Train

Then, when Perez was 24 Spike Lee noticed her at the dance club and booked her first major acting role in Do the Right Thing (1989). Rosie had so much natural talent she choreographed music videos for singers like Janet Jackson and made her Broadway debut in Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. She went on to star in the hit comedy White Men Can‘t Jump (1992) co-starring Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson which is what many remember her most for. Rosie’s resume only continues with an Oscar-nominated role in Fearless (1993), and films like Pineapple Express (2008).

Rosie Perez, Do the Right Thing©Universal Pictures
Rosie Perez in “Do the Right Thing”

She released her autobiography Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling... in 2014. Rosie’s mother passed away of aids 1999 and she has been an activist for causes close to her heart.

She was appointed The Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) in 2010 by Barack Obama and is an activist for Puerto Rican rights.The world can get excited to see Perez next in the 2021 film Clifford the Big Red Dog.

US actress, dirfector and AIDS activist©GettyImages

Sign up to our newsletter to stay in touch with your cultura. Get the latest on your favorite celebrities, royals, and the best beauty, fashion, and lifestyle news delivered right to your inbox!
Back to main page See last year's list




Culinary Excellence

Creative Forces