Rosie Perez Opens Up About the One Activity That Keeps Her Calm in Stressful Times

Now starring in HBO Max’s The Flight Attendant, the 56-year-old actor reflects on some of her biggest life lessons.

I’ve had some good experiences on TV sets and some bad experiences, so I was hesitant to take the plunge with The Flight Attendant. Kaley Cuoco [who executive-produces and stars in the show] asked to meet with me about it. She is so freaking amazing. And I said, “Let’s talk about work ethic.” I like to come to set prepared—I don’t waste time. I do my job and go home. I’ve learned it’s best to be up-front with how you work. In my 20s, I used to show up late. I got fired from It Could Happen to You because of it—I was rehired within an hour because I couldn’t stop crying and screaming. I promised I’d never be late again.

I think I’m drawn to activism work because there were a lot of injustices done to me as a kid. I know how it feels. I was a ward of the state for a time and in a group home for children—not for juvenile delinquents but for displaced or unwanted children. So I don’t like injustices—they set me off.

If your mind is out of shape, it doesn’t matter if you’re in shape or not. When my mental and emotional health is in order, I’m able to move forward in my life. If it’s not, things fall apart. So I’ve learned to really focus on that. Exercise is also tied to my mental health. I’ve been boxing for a short time. One thing I’ve learned is that calmness and composure make champions—you can’t win if you’re not calm and composed.

This article originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!

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