New Yorkers: Rosie Perez

Rosie Perez, Born in Brooklyn and Raised in Queens

New York City native Rosie Perez had different career aspirations growing up. She actually wanted to be a marine biologist and only got into acting by accident when director Spike Lee spotted her in a nightclub and hired her for the 1989 film Do the Right Thing. The Puerto Rican dancer/actress appeared on 21 Jump Street and served as the choreographer for In Living Color, a role that earned her three Emmy nominations. She’d later become a bona fide star after starring in 1992’s White Men Can't Jump and earn an Academy Award nomination for her performance in 1993’s Fearless. But Perez hasn’t overlooked her past. The community activist serves as the chair of the artistic board for Urban Arts Partnership, a New York City arts education nonprofit that uses arts integrated education programs to close the achievement gap.

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About this author

Miranda Noland,

Miranda Noland is the Senior Photo Editor for She handles all the photo needs for the site and occasionally writes a thing or two. Growing up in a small town in Missouri, she collected (and hoarded) magazines and dreamed of working at one someday. She studied art and design at Drury University and moved to New York City after graduating. She loves being an aunt to her two nephews and has recently moved to be closer to them. She's a pop culture junkie who watches way too much television, and she still hoards magazines.