Rosa María Perez (born September 6, 1964) is an American actress, choreographer and community activist. Her mother Lydia Perez spent time in and out of jail. Perez’s mother gave birth to her youngest child while incarcerated. Rosa was for a time raised by an aunt and then like her siblings went through group homes and foster care. Her and her siblings were often split up. She was then transferred to a group foster home and lived in foster care in New York and Peekskill until age eight, and was still legally considered a ward of the State of New York until age twelve. Her mother and aunt frequently visited, and her father made an unsuccessful custody bid at one point. When she was in third grade, Perez learned that she had a speech impediment. She had a strict Catholic upbringing, which she has credited to the influence of the nuns during her childhood. She eventually moved in with paternal aunt, Ana Dominga Otero Serrano-Roque, and attended Grover Cleveland High School, in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens. Her mother died of AIDS-related complications in 1999. When her mother died she was living in poverty in Queensbridge houses.