Not only did Las Vegas’ Life Is Beautiful Festival bring the jams, the eats and the art, but there were equally exciting panels that got the noggin pumping. The #LearningIsBeautiful speakers boasted a wide spectrum of talents, from Bill Nye (yup, the Science Guy) to Kat Graham to Jane The Virgin star, Justin Baldoni. Each panelist contributed to one of three talk categories: “A Force For Good,” “Shaping The Future” and “Challenging The Game.”
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The final speaker was Rosario Dawson. The Hollywood leading lady oozed cool and comfy in laceless black loafers, rolled up jeans and a blue top from her own brand, Studio One Eighty Nine, co-founded by her bestie, Abrima Erwiah.
Dawson wasn’t there to discuss her acting debut on Kids (which just turned 20) or the countless acting hurdles she’s had to overcome. Instead, Dawson spoke at length about the importance of creating change as a joint founder of Voto Latino, while gifting the audience with timeless life gems.
Peep the invaluable crop of jewels that the part Puerto Rican, part Cuban firecracker shared with attendees…
“I’m fascinated by people. I’m fascinated by being alive. And that’s what I want to be.”
“You really gotta go with your instincts. I’m reading this book called Follow Your Gut and [we are] really 10 percent human cells. We’re composited of a lot of bacteria and things. As earthlings, we need to be much more aware of the fact that earthlings aren’t just humans. There’s a lot of other being parts and things in life that are out there and we are all a part of that. I was raised in activism. It’s kinda hard to not be so aware of it when you were raised in a swaddle in a sublet in Manhattan during the crack cocaine and heroine and AIDs epidemics, so I had a lot of people that I grew up with who were organizers…so now it’s a part of me. I licked stamps on the envelopes with my mom. She encouraged me to do my first campaign to save the trees when I was 10 in San Francisco. I made posters. Didn’t do anything. I was trying.”
“I think the problem is in the philanthropic system in that we’re not encouraged to just give … People who want to give need to give.”
READ: A Nostalgic Rosario Dawson Celebrates 20 Years Of ‘Kids’
“You want it to be genuine. I’ve seen a lot of organizations suffer because they try to bring in a celebrity at some time to help amplify their message but then they get someone on their red carpet, blue carpet, green carpet, to talk about something they don’t know what they’re talking about. It hurts more than it helps so it’s really about following your heart and going with that. That’s generosity. That’s smiling at the people as you walk out of here, not stepping on a homeless person as you’re making your way into a farmer’s market. That’s the everyday-ness of it.”
“When you see an injustice, when you read about it, when you get that fire, that’s what you need.”
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“It’s hard to go through a dip. You have a great idea then you hit a wall ’cause you’ll have beginners’ luck. And the staying power to get over that wall, figuring out how to navigate and approach that wall to get to where you really want to go is that passion. And that’s why it’s not about like, hey, pick a cause. Really follow your passion and then you’ll figure it out.”
“Simple things can make a real impact in the community … We hear a lot about the immigration conversation. Latinos are a huge part of our country and it doesn’t off our country if we’re not really putting in the work to make sure when those numbers change, proportionately, demographically, that there’s also civicness in there, there’s education in there, leadership in there, there’s great entrepreneurship being encouraged ’cause you’re not just consumers, you’re entrepreneurs and that’s a really important thing.”
“…If it wasn’t for my grandmother doing what she did, my mother doing what she did, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing.”
“It’s my New Year’s, I consider it. And I thank God for the people who come together and go, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool? Lets just do it because.’ Let’s just do things because it’s fun to do it. I’m all about DIY right now. … It’s really fun to just do things and not always do it because it hands you a paycheck.”
“I feel like I’m so blessed because what I do for a living is put myself into other people’s shoes, explore what life would be like through their eyes. It’s challenging. It’s confronting at times. It’s a setting and it’s painful and it’s exciting. It’s exhilarating. It’s sexy. It’s fun. It’s a lot of different things but most importantly, it’s eye-opening. And I think that’s a really important thing for us to do is to really keep our eyes open and see each other and realize that we have more options than we ever considered for ourselves because our way of doing things is just our way today, and it’s most probably something we learned from someone else. We could probably make up something else, even make it up a little better so try.”
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“That’s what organizing is about. That’s what going to the movies is about. It’s about being together. It’s a different experience when you do it together. That’s why I love activism.”
“Just ’cause something is legal doesn’t mean it’s right.”
“Fight like a girl. … That’s what I’ve learned from the women in my life. It’s like fortitude that’s there. It’s like yeah, maybe she’s not going to be the sprint runner, she’s gonna do the endurance mile.”
“We are both male and female. Takes a man and a woman to make you so you’re half and half and so for any of that to push against that, doesn’t make any sense. What are you denying about yourself? … I celebrate women. I celebrate men. I celebrate women. I celebrate life. I think we’re really lucky to be alive.”
“I get this from my mom so I’m quoting my mom. ‘You only get to be a little girl once, ’cause after that, then you’re a woman. And after that, you’re an old woman.’ And that’s all good. You wanna enjoy those stages because it’s really not cute when a woman and an old woman want to be a little girl. … So be who you are and where you are right now.”