Rosario Dawson: 100% into Studio 189

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

Rosario Dawson is one of the most – if not the most – engaged celebrity in all kinds of organisations both to protect the planet and help those in need; her activism resume is as long and rich as her professional one. But now she’s moved her philanthropy towards the world of fashion.

Specifically, Rosario has teamed up with her longtime friend Abrima Erwiah  to launch Studio One Eighty Nine, an online platform dedicated to creatives with a mission to promote African culture and African-inspired content.

Rosario Dawson & Abrima Erwiah

Dawson’s advocating for positive social change started at least 10 years ago with Voto Latino, the ONE campaign and V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler’s award winning play The Vagina Monologues. This engagement brought Rosario Dawson to the City of Joy back in June 2011 to support a community in the Congo, dedicated to empowering women survivors of violence. The 35-year-old actress and Abrima Erwiah met with members of the community, and saw firsthand what the women had to offer and what they could give in return. This is how their Studio One Eighty Nine came to life.

Image by Dinobra for Wikicommons
Image by Dinobra for Wikicommons


Dawson, whose film credits include ‘Rent,’ ‘Sin City,’ and ‘Seven Pounds’ has been a leader in urging young Latinos to become involved in voting and political participation. She has also been active with One Billion Rising, an international organisation seeking to end violence against women, and is a spokesperson for the Environmental Media Association. She also made a speech during the prestigious Earth Day Conference, last April at the Nelson Institute, and discussed America’s changing demographics and the future of the environmental movement, during the conference, titled ‘Earth: To Be Determined.’ In this occasion the eco-actress explored ideas and issues related to the Anthropocene (the age of humans), a term many scientists are using to describe the profound impact people are having on the global environment by adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, converting land to human uses and consuming natural resources.

Rosario Dawson presents

Rosario is amongst the most committed eco heroes, as she supports organisations such as Global Cool Foundation (a UK climate change charity that promotes sustainability), The Nature Conservancy (an environmental nonprofit headquartered in Arlington, Virginia with the mission to protect nature and biodiversity), and is throughly engaged in water defence, trying to keep fracking out of communities.

But Rosario Dawson’s latest   project is truly her own ‘baby’–and a big baby, at that. Studio One Eighty Nine is currently divided into three sections: an online magazine for showcasing African-inspired creative content; a supporting agency to help organisations with marketing and communications services; and a private fashion collection called   Fashion Rising Collection, an artisan-produced label launched in support of V-Day’s One Billion Rising campaign.

Fashion Rising Collection

Dawson and Erwiah, who both travel often to Ghana as well as to other African countries, work directly with resident artisans, designers, artists, photographers and bloggers. The first Fashion Rising Collection was sold at a pop-up shop with Urban Outfitters in Los Angeles and New York last May, the second collection featured designers on the e-commerce site such as Geren Ford, Menzer Hajiyeya and Lulu. The Dawson-Erwiah duo presented their third collection during this September’s Milan Fashion Week with the United Nation’s  ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative and  Vogue. Their ext stop will be Ghana Fashion Week on October 11th. The pair has also recently teamed up with Quarterly, a subscription-based service of  curated box-filled goods, to provide interested buyers pieces from the Fashion Rising collection, as well as a few other surprises.

Image: Georges Baird for Wikicommons
Image: Georges Baird for Wikicommons

And the cherry on top if you want to buy one of the Fashion Rising items? Dawson’s package will include an autographed poster of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, signed by Rosario Dawson herself, who persuaded equally green-minded co-star Jessica Alba to sign it too. Well worth the price of a tee shirt, if you ask us!

Sin City Poster

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Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
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