Rosie Perez Says She Was 'a Very Sad Kid': 'I Had a Bittersweet Childhood'
Rosie Perez is playing a high school drama director in Rise, NBC’s inspiring and emotional new drama about a group of students in Stanton, Pennsylvania, and the ways their lives change when they ban together to work on a new musical.
And though the 53-year-old actress may play one of the 10-episode series’ authority figures, she was very much in touch with her younger self — reflecting on her childhood during a recent visit to PEOPLE Now.
“I was a cool nerd,” the Oscar nominee said. “I knew so many people, but I was a book worm, my head was down. I had an agenda. I was going to like take life by the reigns and just go with it. So I understood at a young age that education was my path to success I was very, very serious.”
Though she may have been serious about her education, Perez said she was “also the class clown” — something she did to hide from the truth of how she was feeling inside.
“The class clown aspect of who I was as a young person was a complete facade because inside, I had a bittersweet childhood so I was kind of a very sad kid,” she explained. “That changed once I was an adult because I worked very hard to make sure that I had a very prosperous life.”
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Rise comes from writer and producer Jason Katims, who also helmed Friday Night Lights and Parenthood.
In addition to Perez, it also stars Auli’i Cravalho of Moana and Josh Radnor of How I Met Your Mother fame.
Rise premieres Tuesday, 10 p.m. ET, on NBC.
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