Celebrity activist Rosario Dawson has been serving her community for almost as long as she can remember. Born into a very vocal and liberal-minded family, she was raised to believe that social change is not only possible—it’s necessary. “My mother worked for a women’s shelter when I was young,” says Rosario. “To see strangers helping other strangers, just showing up and giving, was so inspiring to me.” Those socially conscious seeds sprouted, literally, when she was 10 and created a Save the Trees campaign in San Francisco, where her family lived for a brief time.
In 2004, she founded Voto Latino to get young Latinos registered and at the polls on election day. “Voting is the umbrella to everything else that I’m doing,” says Rosario. “Women’s issues, health and disease, poverty, housing—these all fall under that voting power.” As thanks for her efforts, she received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in June.
But, important as these causes are, right now Rosario is most passionate about Eve Ensler’s V-Day campaign, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. She recently traveled to the Congo, where the organization has created a shelter for victims of rape and violence. “It’s a space for women to learn leadership skills and ultimately become activists themselves,” says Rosario, who stresses the value of aiding those in need. “Being part of the solution is empowering."