Cover Exclusive: Rosario Dawson

Sheryl Nields for Latina

Election mania is at fever pitch, and our October cover girl Rosario Dawson is at the forefront. With her organization Voto Latino, Rosario, 29, is dedicated to making sure Latinos young and old come out in record numbers to cast their ballots for president this November. But we discovered that there's more to this rebel than just a cause. Rosario opened up to us about her parents, her dreams, and her one big regret:

From this month's issue of Latina

On having kids: I always wanted to adopt kids ‘cause my Dad adopted me. That idea has stayed in the back of my head, but lately, I’ve been thinking about it more. My mother and grandmother are extraordinary women, and they’re getting older. It struck me recently that one day I might be sitting around with my children, going ‘Your grandma was an amazing woman; I really wish you could’ve known her.’ That makes me sad ‘cause it would be a waste to not have these people know each other. Whatever time I have, I want it.

On her talent: When I was younger, I went through a period of feeling like a fraud because I started off being discovered at age 15. I’d be around people who were educated at Juilliard or had an amazing acting coach, and I felt like I was in over my head. It’s taken me years to value my own talents and merits and to understand what my limitations are and go past them.

On growing up in a household in which everyone had their say during arguments: You weren’t allowed to rebut. You had to just hear it out. And that’s how we grew up, being told that we were important. Like what we had to say was valid.

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On how her mother would discipline her: My mom was definitely one of those people who was like, "I don't care." She would come over and she'd warn me, "Rosario, if you don't cut it out right now, I'm gonna lick you." And I'd be like, "oh, whatever." And she'd just come over and lick my face. In front of all my friends. Or, if my brother was having a temper tantrum, she would throw herself down on the floor, kicking and screaming. And my brother would say, "okay, this clearly isn't going to make you do what I want you to do because clearly you don't care about anybody watching." It was genius.

One her one big regret: That I didn't go to college. I was upset [about it] for so many years. That was something that really, really bothered me.

On the biggest lesson she learned in her 20s: There is something about getting a little bit older and just getting more comfortable in myself, my body and my time here. I'm really kind of getting a better understanding of the world around me and having a context for all of my feelings. It's amazing because I'm not nearly as hard on myself [anymore]. And I'm learning.

On trying to find her biological father: I don't know my biological father. So growing up, that was something I thought about. I was very aware since I was really young. I know the myths and stories. I thought about maybe hiring somebody. And, hopefully it won't be a sad thing where I finally find him and find out he died the year before or something like that. But who knows? It's not a big void in my life.

On her adopted father: My dad started dating my mom when she was eight months pregnant with me. He was beautiful. I wanted to be him. I love my father, he is amazing to me. I was daddy's little girl growing up.

On her Puerto Rican, Afro-Cuban, Native American and Irish background: When I'm in Brazil, they think I'm Brazilian. When I'm in India, they think I'm Indian. When I was in India, I got to see how people of a darker color are treated. I was on vacation, and I got really dark, and when I walked into my hotel, they went "whoa, whoa, you have to show us your passport."

For more of our interview with Rosario Dawson, pick up the October issue of Latina, on newsstands now!