Rosario Dawson has a lot of smart and interesting things to say in her interview with the Daily Beast about Diego Luna’s upcoming movie on farmworker rights pioneer Cesar Chavez. Dawson will play Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the Chavez’s farmworkes’ union, and it’s definitely worth reading the interview in its entirety to get a her take on racism, sexism, classism, and imperialism — both in the context of the movie and in her own life.
But one part of the interview in particular stuck out as an interesting insight: What audience Dawson is hoping will turn out to see Cesar Chavez when it opens on March 28, and what she’s hoping they do next.
“Young millennials are the first group that, as diverse as they are, really wants traction on a lot of these different issues,” Dawson explains. “It opens us up to a way of thinking, ‘Yes, it’s in your power to do something about this. Yes, you’re inheriting trillions of dollars of debt, you’re drowning in student loans, you’re living with your parents, you’re worried about your future, you’re marrying less and putting off children. You’re a very interesting demographic. But two-thirds of you approve of gay marriage, you’re in favor of medical marijuana.’ So you can watch this movie and go, ‘OK, that group of illiterate farmworkers banded together and changed the world. I’m a young person that feels very marginalized — people only treat me like a consumer — but I can change the world.’”
It’s interesting that Dawson sees the movie as a way to zoom out and think about political activism writ large instead of just a tale of immigration organizing. Dawson herself is a longtime vocal advocate for immigrants’ rights and helms a group, Voto Latino, that focuses on organizing Latino Millennials around reform. So it wouldn’t be surprising if she wanted the movie to inspire people to take up the cause of immigration reform specifically.
But the focus on Millenials’ influence on every issue is what makes her pitch for the movie particularly salient. Clearly, Dawson is plugged into the demographic changes that are currently driving calls for progress. Not only do young people largely support immigration reform (78 percent of people aged 18-29 said that undocumented people should be able to stay in the country legally in a 2013 Pew poll), but they’re also driving change on a number of other social issues: Marijuana legalization, marriage equality, and online privacy. The theme that runs through all of this change is the demographic makeup of Millenials; They’re young people of color — and they’re growing at a rate of about 4 Million new voters a year.
It’s great that Rosario Dawson is plugged into the world of activism from her powerful perch as a celebrity. But it’s even better that she understands exactly where and how to make change happen.