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Rosario Dawson Tackles Domestic Violence In New Thriller

People

Ever since starring in her first controversial movie Kids, Rosario Dawson has taken on complex roles that challenge her. It’s no wonder why the talented actress chose to star in the new thriller, Unforgettable, which deals with the troubling theme of domestic violence.


Part of her choice to join the cast was personal, Dawson told SWAAY at the movie premier, as her own mother worked at a women's shelter when Dawson was just 10 years old. “This (subject matter) is something that’s always been in my life, that I take very seriously,” says Dawson, regarding the subject of domestic abuse. "There were women and children who came in during the middle of the night with only the clothes on their backs."

That experience infused her with activism; Dawson has been a board member of V-Day, an organization which helps stop the violence against women and children around the world. “I didn’t want this to be used in a film for some minor character note, I really wanted the film to say something," says Dawson.

In Unforgettable, Julia, (Dawson) is a newly engaged writer who has emerged from a personal dark period, in which she was being abused by an ex-boyfriend. While Julia is excited to start her life with her fiancé, David (played by Geoff Stults), a divorced father of one, she still hasn’t shared with him the emotional scars from her past.

Dawson says that while filming, an important part of her process was having an open dialogue about the movie's subject matter with producer, Denise Di Novi.
"We wanted to be really honest about it…when one in three women are being raped, killed or beaten in their lifetime, that’s over a billion women on the planet," says Dawson. "I loved that this was an opportunity to play a character who had gone through that and had sought help. [My character] is a survivor--she got her perpetrator in custody, went to court, got a restraining order, and she checked herself somewhere to get psychological help. While that's something that happened off camera, you see how much that has affected her. These tools end up saving her in this film.”
About her character, Dawson says, “You’re catching Julia at that ‘pinch me’ moment when she’s happy and in love. She is excited about the steps she is taking to build a new life, but because of everything she’s gone through before, it’s hard for her to trust in it and not wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. I was rooting for her because I know how that feels, and I think anyone could understand what that might be like."

In the movie's Dawson's Julia is also dealing with her partner's increasingly manipulative ex wife, Tessa (Katherine Heigl).

"She’s definitely stepping into this new experience with excitement, but also some trepidation because she didn’t have the kind of upbringing that makes her feel secure about being a parent," Dawson says. "That puts her at an obvious disadvantage when she meets Tessa. At first, Tessa appears to be doing her best to make the transition as smooth as possible, but you see pretty early on that she’s actually not as welcoming as she pretends to be and is trying to gaslight Julia.”

To be sure, both women in this film are suffering trauma. This theme is explored through detailed character development, Dawson says.
"Amazingly, my character, who has the least resources of all of them, has actually gotten some emotional help and given herself a leg up," says Dawson. "While these other women, who should have access to everything, don’t use it, because they keep the skeletons in the closet and don’t talk about it."
“We need to really look at the ugly, in order to get it out of our lives," Dawson says. "That’s a really important lesson."
In her own life, Dawson says that thankfully she hasn't had to deal with any crazy ex-boyfriends, but that she has had many experiences with stalkers and "all kinds of crazy things," she says. "That was scary to reflect upon and think about."
In terms of relationships, Dawson said she's in fact, very timid. "I have been really lame in my breakups, writing really sad little handwritten letters that I dropped off at their house," she says. "Those are the moments that I look back and think, 'yea I could have been a little bit classier and taken that a little bit better.'"
The first film for director, Di Novi (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Focus), Unforgettable explores the notion of the self, and how important it is to feel whole without a relationship as well as with one.
"Tessa’s entire life has been geared toward having the perfect life—the right marriage, the right husband, the right house," says Di Novi. "Julia escaped an abusive relationship and has worked hard to move past it, yet she is still hiding it from David. So it is kind of a cautionary tale for women about what can happen when your whole identity rests on your relationship with a man, good or bad.”
Di Novi says that working with Heigl and Dawson was inspiring, as both inherently possessed similar characteristics that their respective characters did.

“The thing that got me about Rosario when I met her, is that she has an inherent goodness about her and a huge heart and I knew that would work for the role," says Di Novi. "Julia also has a kind of joie de vivre and Rosario nailed that part of the character. You see why David fell in love with Julia: she’s funny, sexy and spontaneous and doesn’t care about being a little messy, and that’s a breath of fresh air to him after being married to someone like Tessa, who is very good at keeping that perfect veneer.”

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#GetFunded: The Best Way to Kick Off Pride as an LGBTQIA+ Entrepreneur

We're here. We're queer. Now that it's pride month, it feels like every store and corporation is flooding us with their best rainbow merchandise, capitalizing on a $917 billion dollar consumer market.


The rainbow flags are out. The mannequins are sporting pride tees. And corporate newsletters are full of interviews showcasing all their queer employees ("Look, we have a gay person here! We GET you!").

To me, this is blatant evidence that the future is queer.

These corporations follow the money, and with 20% of millennials and 31% of Gen Z openly identifying as queer, these businesses have to capitalize on the growing purchasing power of LGBTQIA+ consumers. With a recorded market size of $917 billion dollars in 2016, and a growing interest in socially conscious brands among young consumers, this is clearly a market opportunity that corporations cannot afford to ignore.

However, I'm always surprised by how little attention investors and the entrepreneurial community devotes to this undeniable trend, despite being constantly inundated with overwhelming statistics proving the importance of diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. Only 2.2% of venture capital funding went to women in 2018, less than .1% of funding has been allocated to black women since 2009, and only about 1% of venture-backed companies have a black founder or Latinx founder. These statistics are over-quoted but underacted upon.

This gender and diversity inequality significantly hinders economic growth, since 85% of all consumer purchases are controlled by women, and startups with higher ethnic diversity tend to produce financial returns above their industry norm.

The data is clearly leading to one direction: investing in women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, veterans, immigrants, and other minority groups in entrepreneurship leads to higher revenue and better business results.

As data-driven and forward-thinking as this industry claims to be, we haven't caught up to the queer founders, particularly queer women, who are rethinking the future. These founders understand and speak to a generation of increasing numbers of LGBTQIA+ people whose market share will only continue to grow exponentially. VCs and investors are already behind the curve.

Apply to pitch!

SoGal Foundation, a non-profit on a mission to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship, is helping bridge this divide between queer women founders and investors with the launch of applications for the second annual Global Pitch Competition for diverse entrepreneurs. Hosted in 25+ cities across five continents, and culminating in a final global pitch competition and 3-day immersive educational bootcamp in Silicon Valley, this is the first and only globally-focused pitch opportunity for diverse entrepreneurs.

Startups that are pre-Series A (raised less than $3M) with at least one woman or diverse founder, apply here to pitch! The top teams selected from each regional round will join SoGal's final global pitch competition and bootcamp in Silicon Valley for guaranteed face time with dozens of top Silicon Valley investors, curated educational programming, unparalleled 1:1 mentorship, press exposure, and a chance to win investment capital.

Women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ founders: what's the best way to kick off pride? Apply to pitch!

Regional pitch rounds will be held August-November 2019; final pitch competition in Silicon Valley in February 2020. Details and additional cities to be announced.

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SoGal Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the largest global platform for diverse founders and funders in 40+ chapters across 5 continents; our mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship. SoGal Foundation's global startup competition represents the first and largest opportunity for women and diverse entrepreneurs and investors to connect worldwide. Join the SoGal community & follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook.