Rosie Perez Recounts Tumultuous Childhood

Rosie Perez

Photo courtesy of Eric Johnson

When Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez spoke at CR’s benefit last fall, she blew us away with details of her childhood spent as a ward of the State of New York.

Now Rosie, a Children’s Right’s Champion Award-winner, is sharing those experiences in her memoir, “Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (with Great Hair).”

In the book Rosie recounts how, at just 3 years old, her mentally-ill mother took her from her loving aunt and put her in a Catholic home 50 miles away. There she got a solid education and was recognized for her smarts and talent, but was hit and deprived of food as punishment and often felt scared and confused. “No one kissed us good-night. No one told us they loved us.” She was later shuffled between group homes and her mother’s abusive home — finding her only refuge in short breaks with her aunt and father. After about a decade of instability, Rosie was finally allowed to move back in with her aunt permanently.

But her childhood left marks — she struggled with clinical depression and PTSD — and for years she kept her experiences close to her chest. Rosie said she is “now ready to share my journey, communicate how good it feels to no longer live in fear of what others may think, and move on.”

Children’s Rights encourages everyone to read Rosie’s story, and discover what life can be like for kids in state care.

Read additional articles in Notes from the Field, the Children’s Rights Newsletter: