Rosie Perez's Handbook for an Unpredictable Life

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Rosie Perez

Rosie Perez shares her story of growing up in Bushwick, being placed in a children’s home by her mentally ill mother at the age of 3, and how she found her way to acting. She writes about it 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).

Asked about how Brooklyn has changed since she was a kid, and Spike Lee’s recent criticism of gentrification, she said: “I think it’s good and bad. It’s great that it’s safer. It’s great that it improved. But it’s bad because a lot of the people who have been there from the beginning are not allowed to participate in all of that. They don’t have the money to do so. Also, when they step out of their house now, they’re judged constantly by the gentrifiers, the hipsters. Um, I’ve seen hipsters move across the street if they see someone Puerto Rican or Dominican or black come down the street – and it’s, it’s so sad.

"I read about Spike’s rant – and you know, he’s kind of right. He’s kind of right. You know people say, ‘Oh well, New York changes all the time.’ The city changes all the time. The boroughs have always been slow to change. If you go to Woodhaven, it still looks like the opening credits to All in the Family, it’s still Archie Bunker Land. And so, just I wished that people would respect that, just a little bit."

She concluded: "We all need to come together and stop fighting and try to make it work so that everybody gets a piece of the new pie that’s placed on the counter."