Actor, Advocate Rosario Isabel Dawson was born on May 9, 1979, in Brooklyn, New York to Patrick C. Harris, of American Indian and Irish ancestry, and Isabel Celeste Dawson, a writer and singer of Afro Cuban and Puerto Rican ancestry. Her biological father met her when Rosario was four. She and her brother, Clay Dawson, were reared in Garland, Texas, where her mother and stepfather, Greg Dawson, had moved. Rosario attended Garland High School before returning to New York to study at Hunter College. She also studied classical acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute Young Actors at Strasberg program in West Hollywood, California.
At age 15, 1995, Dawson made her film debut as Ruby in the controversial cult film drama Kids. Three years later in 1998, she was in The Chemical Brothers’ video for the song “Out of Control” from the album Surrender which peaked at no. 1 UK Dance Chart and no. 21 UK Singles Chart and went to the top 50 in New Zealand.
In 2002, Dawson starred as Naturelle Rivera in Spike’s Lee film drama, 25th Hour and she performed the role of Laura Vasquez in the science fiction action-comedy film Men in Black II. Dawson also appeared in the Rob Zombie film, The Devil’s Rejects, and as a singer in the film adaptation of the hit New York musical Rent where she was nominated by ALMA Awards for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” for her performance. In 2005 she appeared in This Revolution directed by writer Writer/director Steve Marshall. Three years later, in 2008, Dawson was in Steven Spielberg’s Seven Pounds. The following year she won the 2009, NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture” for her work in that film. In 2012, she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special” for the production Five.
Dawson adopted a 12-year-old daughter in 2014 named Lola Dawson. That same year, she won the “Courage in Filmmaking Award” from the Women Film Critics Circle Awards for her work with The Lower East Side Girls Club; the environmental group Global Cool; the ONE Campaign; Oxfam; Amnesty International; and Voto Latino for empowering the Latinx community. In 2020, Dawson performed as Ahsoka Tano in the second season of The Mandalorian on Disney+. In February 2020 Dawson announced that she is gay and part of the LBGTQ community.