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