Rosario Dawson has always been and continues to be, doing a lot. This includes and is not limited to: starring in one of my favorite 2001 films (and there were a lot of good ones that year), straddling an astounding number of roles in the expansive Marvel universe, winning sustainability awards, helping people vote, singing well, and making people giddily Google “Rosario Dawson First Lady” in their free time.
Despite all this, she remains a super-chill person. To wit: Before our chat, she greeted me not with a formal handshake, but with a refreshing spritz of Burt’s Bees Hydrating Facial Mist to my face.
Burt’s Bees product aside, this is what makes Dawson an excellent match for the brand’s new self-care campaign which focuses on the power of nature to combat the stresses of modern life. Dawson knows how to handle burnout with an ease that makes you want to giddily google “Rosario Dawson life coach” in your free time, too. The Cut caught up with actor to talk drinking clay, staying home sometimes, and her animated role model.
How do you personally define self-care? What does it look like in your everyday life?
I define self-care by the individual, so, for some people that’s getting up super early in the morning and training for a marathon, you know? Not something I personally want to do; I want to wake up early in the morning, and start my day with some kind of warm water, like tea or lemon water. I’ve been starting to drink clay lately. There’s really good, fine, food-grade clay that helps to clean out your system and rid you of parasites.
I’m very natural about stuff, so it’s clays and vitamins in my skin care, too. I’m not a retinol and acids-type person; I can’t do all of that kind of stuff. It’s about finding the stuff that works for me. Someone else may swear by something, but if it makes you feel good, centers you, renders you present, and it allows you to show up feeling like your best self, then that’s what you need to include in your self-care routine.
What’s your nighttime routine like?
Hopefully, I’ve meditated already for the second time, otherwise, maybe I’ll take a light mediation. I’m also trying to incorporate baths. I’ve noticed the importance of routines: My one friend always sees the sunset everyday; my other friend has to take a bath everyday, so I’ve been playing with a couple of different ones.
Right now, I’ve been trying to do the meditation-face mask-bath at once. But almost always, at night I’m turning off the phone, having a great meal, and a good conversation. Sometimes watching a movie or whatever, but the main focus is trying to get good sleep, hydrating, and relaxing.
What time do you go to bed?
Oof. I really try to go to bed early, but I’ve been going to bed past midnight every day for the past week or so. My daughter, my dad, my boyfriend, we’re all night people. So it sucks, because I really, really enjoy mornings now more than I ever have before. Mornings are awesome! Mornings are where it’s at!
Speaking of your daughter, it feels like teens these days are cooler than they’ve ever been …
I’m so not quoting that to my daughter.
What does your daughter currently think is “cool” that mystifies you?
I like trap music, but not as the only music to listen to. Twerking, I guess, is cool? She’s 16 already and I can tell we’re going to have very different households, but I’m really curious. It’s cool because we’re really similar, because she’s an artist, but in a lot of other ways, I’m more, Been there, done that.
The other night it was the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party and I just decided not to go. She was so excited, going through my closet and everything she wanted me to wear was like, You gotta wear the low cut with the slit, and YAAAS. I was like, Who have you turned into, I am so not wearing this!
I was ready to leave, and then I was just like, Do I really want to go all the way across town? I changed into pajamas and my daughter was like, What is wrong with you? She saw that picture of Madonna with Lady Gaga the day after. She’s like, Your priorities are all screwed up, mom. You have to hang out with Madonna.
Are there any areas of overlap in your beauty and self-care routines or philosophies?
She loves taking care of herself, doing her nails. She has this big beautiful curly hair and has gotten better and better at recognizing how to work with her texture and try different styles.
We’ve also been really thoughtful about the products we have in our house. Part of that is because she has eczema, but it’s really more about wellness. It’s not just about getting rid of the redness, it’s about feeling good and using good products and companies that are good to the environment. It’s become this all encompassing conversation. She loves nature, animals, flowers, and being outdoors. It’s connecting all those different things in your life that you care without being compromised at any point.
Hopefully in the future she’ll continue that lifestyle for herself and will not get caught up in everything. But we’ll see. Maybe she leaves the house and just eats sugar through an IV.
What wellness advice would you give to your younger self?
Pfft, woman, I would just say that it’s not a bad word. I would tell my younger self that taking care of yourself and prioritizing an annual vacation even, is an essential. It just wasn’t something that I grew up with. I always looked at it as this luxury that only certain people had access to, but I’d argue it away for myself. Now I recognize what a disservice I did to myself, especially when I hit certain walls that came specifically from neglecting my needs and not prioritizing them.
On the three years I was on the Marvel shows, I was flying almost every weekend and I was just sick all the time. By the time those shows stopped, I took a step back, started meditating, and now I get sick maybe, once a year? I am my job, so my health is my No. 1, and it’s terrible that it’s taken me so long to recognize just how essential that is to keep moving forward. I’m used to the New York hustle, and there are all these different things that I show up with every day, but going: But did I get good sleep and drink enough water? was never my thing. But now that’s literally what I tell everyone all the time: Drink water. Go to sleep. Meditate. Hydrate. Take a walk.
I don’t want to be that person hunched over in the corner who’s stiff and can’t move. I want to be dancing until I’m done. I wanna be that grandma in Moana. Remember her? How yummy was that grandma in Moana? She makes me cry all the time. And her body? Love her.
How do you take your water?
I like it tepid, room temperature. I’ve also gotten into sparkling water these past couple of years. I used to hate it, and actually, you know what changed it? It was Burning Man.
I got one of those machines that makes carbonated water, and the first time I brought it, people looked at me like What?! But when you’re in the Playa, in that dust in the middle of nowhere after a couple of days … I brought them cold, sparking water, and it was like I gave out Champagne. I’ve fallen in love with it ever since.
What’s your favorite snack?
I have a lot of simple basics, like avocado with a little salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. There’s this amazing raw-food chef in Atlanta. Can we just talk about how dope Atlanta is? They have this thing called Dekalb market and it’s incredible. All the people speak multiple languages and it’s right near their biggest refugee community, so it’s people and food from all of the world.
There’s fresh pressed sugar cane that you can get in gallons. We’re not supposed to be having this white sugar, but actual fresh-pressed sugar cane is the most delicious thing you’ve ever had. This woman in Atlanta makes this raw cacao chocolate truffle with goji. It tastes so luxurious and it’s all completely natural, organic, raw ingredients. I’m all about it.
I’ve been really doing a lot more raw lately in general, so I’m also going to say: Fresh fruit. The core of a pineapple? Yo, okay: Frozen pineapple, aloe, blended. It’s the most delicious thing you’ve ever had; it tastes like a slushie that’s good for you.
And lastly, do you have a mantra? And if not, can you make one up right now?
I don’t think I have my own mantra, so it’s gonna be from Rocky Horror Picture Show: Don’t dream it, be it.