Rosario Dawson on the Cause She'd Champion as First Lady

As a longtime activist, she's attended presidential debates before, but, she says of Wednesday's showdown, "This is the first time I will be blowing kisses at one of the candidates!"

Rosario Dawson on the Causes She'd Champion as First Lady
Photo: Birdie Thompson/Courtesy

Rosario Dawson will be at the Democratic debate on Wednesday night, supporting her New Jersey Senator boyfriend, Cory Booker. One thing she hopes to hear being addressed is the pandemic of children’s poverty and youth homelessness.

“There is a lot of stuff that is dividing people, but as Cory says, there is also a lot of common ground, examining issues like homeless youth,” she told InStyle at Saturday’s A Night To End Youth Homelessness event, a 12-hour sleep out which took place in numerous cities across the country.

“The growing homeless youth crisis is happening in Atlanta, in New Mexico where I just was, and here in California. These bloating situations are not just happening all across these cities but all across this nation, and this planet, and it’s only going to continue to get worse. We need to have a plan.”

According to The National Coalition for the Homeless, many homeless young people have fled abusive situations, left the foster care system with no resources, or been rejected by their families because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The event featured an advance screening of Lost in America, a documentary on youth homelessness which Dawson appears in and executive produced, along with writer/director Rotimi Rainwater. Halle Berry, Miley Cyrus, and Tiffany Haddish are featured in the documentary, along with Jewel, who wrote a song for the film.

Rosario Dawson on the Causes She'd Champion as First Lady
Eric Charbonneau/Shutterstock

“Having Rosario be a part of this film is so important,” said Rainwater, who himself was once homeless. “Let’s face it, people walk down the street and don’t want to look at homeless youth. So we really needed the help of people with voices louder, and more powerful than ours to get Americans to pay attention to this issue. And that’s what Rosario does.”

Dawson noted that youth homelessness is one of the issues she’d remain dedicated to addressing if she were to become First Lady. “We have more animal shelters than we have human shelters,” she said. Citing a study from Chapin Hall, a research center at the University of Chicago, she added, “Even with 4.2 million youth homeless on the street, it’s still not something that we can’t resolve. That’s a totally resolvable issue.”

During the event, organizers asked attendees to sign a national petition for the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (RHYTPA) which provides communities with funding for housing and services for both minors and young adults at risk of and experiencing homelessness and/or human trafficking.

The petition, which started gathering signatures in Los Angeles, is being sent to Congress early next year to ask for some $300 million in federal funding to begin addressing these issues, which Dawson says feel personal to her.

“This has always been a really critical one for me, because I grew up in a squat on the Lower East Side. Without housing, you don’t have access to shelter, safety, rest or protection. You don't have that foundation. Just thinking about not being able to sleep, night after night after night, with worry, anxiety and stress … how are you supposed to pick yourself up after that?”

This isn’t the only cause she’s been devoted to, long before she began dating a politician. Dawson points out that she has been regularly attending presidential debates and other political activities since she started the non-partisan non-profit organization Voto Latino in 2004.

“But this is the first time I will be blowing kisses at one of the candidates!” she quipped. “Though I do know most of them for quite some time now. It’s fun to be able to be there and support Cory in his journey.” The happy couple have been dating since October 2018, having met at a fundraising party.

After recently appearing in the recent sequel to Zombieland, Dawson has been working on an upcoming new television series, Briarpatch, for USA Network — while her boyfriend is out there vying for the democratic presidential nomination. Safe to say they lead busy lives, but Dawson says they are sure to make meaningful time together.

“In the midst of it all, he is my boyfriend, someone who I love very much. He is traveling all over the place. I’m thinking, ‘Is he eating right? Is he sleeping right? Is he taking care of himself or is he just on all the time?’ There are so many things. I don’t know where this journey will take us but we are putting in the time and effort for our journey separate from that. It’s just beautiful to be with each other.”

Whether the White House is in the cards for this couple or not, a white dress may be. Booker made waves earlier this week when Wendy Williams asked if he thought he and Dawson would get married. “Look, I have hope, I have hope!” he laughed, before speculating about the type of ring she might like.

Dawson, mum on the topic of marriage, does appreciate her partner's passion for doing good — something the pair truly share in common.

“He is a man of service, he is very educated. He is very passionate, and is living his purpose. We are both busy doing work that inspires us … Cory and I have that opportunity to share that much more of ourselves, because we have been able to achieve so much.”

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