Rosario Dawson has made it to become a big movie star, but she'll never forget where she came from. Doing the independent film Explicit Ills gave her a chance to honor her friends and family, and say something about today's problems of poverty and health care.

The film casts Dawson as the mother of an asthmatic child struggling to give him proper care. "My mom was 17 when she had me," Dawson said. "My character doesn't have a name. I'm Babo's mom. To look at that and be like I'm this young mother, I'm uneducated, I'm inexperienced and I have zero resources. I grew up in an area where I know so many women who are like that and that was the story I wanted to tell."

Asthma struck another maternal chord in Dawson as well. "It was very profound for me because my mom is asthmatic and she lives far away from me. I think about that all the time. I've seen her in situations where she couldn't breathe. We get out of a car and we're in a neighborhood that has really bad smog and she totally just can not breathe. It's such a helpless feeling to be in front of."

"Explicit ills" Official trailer

Babo's mom discovers the tragedy of the health care system when she cannot afford her son's expensive medication.

"All of us need help to some capacity and this system and how this country works is not forgiving to people who are poor. And if you are unhealthy you're really screwed in a lot of ways and that's for people who have money as well. That's just the way the country runs and it was just trying to be nurturing I think to all the people I know who will really recognize themselves in this woman."

Look for Explicit Ills in limited release starting March 20.

Story/Interview by Fred Topel

Starpulse contributing writer

(Starpulse in Hollywood): Every week, Hollywood's biggest stars are meeting in the hot spots and Starpulse is there.