10 Questions with Rosie Perez

The actress, dancer and choreographer on her tricky childhood, fighting and that unmistakable voice

Javier Sirvent for TIME

As you describe it in Handbook for an Unpredictable Life, your childhood was grim. What made you write about it?

Honestly, I'm still trying to figure that out. I just felt like I was supposed to, and after I started, it kind of became, Oh no, I can't stop it now.

Why did your mother take you from the care of a loving aunt and put you in a Catholic home when you were 2 years old?

I don't know. She suffered from severe mental illness, so only she knows, and she's not around, God rest her soul. I've tried for...