94th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals©GettyImages

Rosie Perez

She is definately one of Hollywood’s most emblematic Latina figures.

Rosie Perez is one of Hollywood’s most emblematic figures. A trailblazer from the get-go, Perez represents an every woman who beat the odds and rose to fame through hardwork, evolving from dancer to choreographer to actress, amassing success at every turn.

2022 WSJ The Future of Everything Festival©GettyImages
Perez at the 2022 WSJ The Future of Everything Festival.

Before her incendiary debut in Spike Lee’s 1989 “Do The Right Thing,” Perez was a dancer and choreographer. She was a working woman, being featured regularly on “Soul Train” and building her career from the ground up. After meeting Lee, everything changed and she became an icon overnight.“He changed my life,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. The two worked together again recently, 30 years after their first collaboration. “I looked at him and started crying again because the kindness of him as my friend and as a director was so real in that moment. Then I was able to put my big-girl pants on and say, “I’m ready. Let’s go,” she said of the experience.

Perez then worked alongside the decade’s best musicians and icons, including Tupac Shakur, with whom she’d had a close friendship.

Perez went on to star in another Spike Lee film, “White Men Can’t Jump”, and then on “Fearless,” alongside Jeff Bridges. Her performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Despite the accolades and recognition, Perez had a tough childhood which continued to affect her life and career. Being diagnosed with PTSD and depression due to her childhood experiences lead to her experiencing anxiety on set, something that would make some directors label her as a difficult actress. “If I get upset, I need you to help me stay on course so I can channel that energy into the role,” she said.

2014 Restore Brooklyn Benefit©GettyImages
Spike Lee and Rosie Perez at the 2014 Restore Brooklyn Benefit.

While Perez currently dances only for herself, she’s never stopped acting. She imbues her roles with personal experiences, resulting in performances that can only be done by Rosie Perez. She currently stars in “The Flight Attendant,” earning a Golden Globe nomination for Supporting Actress, and on Apple TV’s “Now and Then,” a series that showcases a bilingual cast and story.

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