EXCLUSIVE: Rosario Dawson on the DNC, Voto Latino & Fashion Week

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We spoke with the amazing actress and activist, Rosario Dawson at the Boy Meets Girl by Stacey Igel Fashion Show during Style360 Fashion Week in New York. Rosario filled us in on the latest progress of her and Wilmer Valderrama’s non-profit Voto Latino, her impression of Wyclef Jean getting wild on stage, and her unexpected run in with the Undocubus at the DNC.

How are things going with Voto Latino with the elections coming up?

"It’s going really good. We’ve paired with over 700 organizations to make September 25 National Voters Registration Day.  We’ve got State Legislators trying to pass it through so that it is an actual day that we can celebrate every year which would be remarkable because even on a non-election year it is vitally important to get millions of people registered."  

This would be a great thing for everybody in the community to get behind it, and understand it, because we have over 20% of young people who come up who have just missed the deadline, or they have a different deadline where they are from vs. where they go to school, or they don’t realize there is one. 

Are you going to be working with Rock the Vote on this?

"Yes. We’re going to be operational in all 50 states because of all of this organizing that we are doing.  We are trying to use all of our resources and combined efforts to get the message out there."

What was it like to attend the Democratic National Convention?

"It was great! I went four years ago to both the RNC and DNC, and this year I was only able to go to the DNC. I wasn’t able to be there every single day in the room, you know [Voto Latino] had a lot of events, but it’s actually a testament to Voto Latino having grown so much. We were able to do a big panel discussion [ at the DNC] called 'People Powered Politics', which was really amazing.

Jose Antonio Vargas was there talking about immigration and it was incredible because we had just walked outside and the Un-docu-bus had just landed like right where we were, just as a coincidence on the day and time we were there. We were able to come out and join them and be in support of it and that was really powerful."

What are you hoping to do? 

"We have to stand up and show our solidarity on these controversial issues. We need to inject some humanity into some of the conversations because regardless, this is happening. This is not going to go away; it’s been going on forever, so it’s important. We cannot be afraid to sit down and have a conversation about it."

Having dreamers staying here, and young people, investing in their education is really key to immigration reform. Our educational system is going to make huge inroads for us to be able to start seeing the humanity of it because right now we are arguing over people taking down our system by doing menial jobs that other people aren’t willing to take. The only other time in history we’ve really seen Americans rushing to take farm labor jobs which are excruciatingly difficult to do, was during the Depression, and we’re in a Recession right now and people are not flooding to farmlands to be recruited to pick."

What was your involvement in the Boy Meets Girl Fashion Show by Stacey Igel?

"Stacey is a really good friend and we’ve been talking for years about collaborating together. We’ve got eighteen girls from the Lower East Side Girls Club. She had twelve girls go into her showroom last week. Some are going to be interns, some are blogging or taking photos, and they’re covering things and shadowing people. It’s a great work experience for everyone, also just a great experience in fashion, clothes, and they get free fun clothes out of it that are totally appropriate. It’s just really awesome, and I was really glad because we’ve been talking about this show for months and it’s finally here. And this is the only show I’m going to for Fashion Week and it was totally awesome! 

The Lower East Side Girls Club is getting the first Green Building of its kind in New York [City]. It’s going to be made for these disenfranchised girls, and now it’s going to go from [being able to take care of] 300 girls to over a 1000 girls.  It’s on Avenue D between 7 and 8 [streets].  I think especially young women of color who are disproportionately affected by so many things, including the HIV/AIDS crisis, [need to be invested in]. I think it’s like one in six Latinas try to commit suicide, there’s such awful statistics that are really targeting our young girls and the United Nations said it’s the Year of the Girl for a reason. We really need to invest in these girls futures. It just seems like its time. I’m so glad to be seeing this kind of support." 

What did you think of the opening performance by Wyclef Jean?

"Before [Wyclef] even left the red carpet he was doing back flips! I thought he was going to get up on stage and do back flips during the show. He was playing the guitar with his lips and teeth, like, come on! I did not know he could play like that, it was awesome!"

What is your message for Latinas?

"Young Latinas: Yo! You gotta be showing up! Women are not showing up in this conversation enough and we need everybody to be registering to vote!"

To learn more about Voto Latino and on how to register to vote go towww.VotoLatino.org .  To see more from Stacey Igel’s Boy Meets Girl collection go to www.BoyMeetsGirlUSA.com .

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