Kyra Sedgwick has partnered with Opening Act's #theshowmustgoONLINE initiative to make sure high school seniors have a chance to shine

By Ale Russian
May 01, 2020 10:03 AM
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Kyra Sedgwick

Kyra Sedgwick wants to make sure high school seniors still get their big day.

With schools across the country shut down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, thousands of theater kids won't get their chance to shine in their end-of-year musicals and plays. Thanks to Opening Act, the nonprofit that provides free after-school theater programming to 57 of New York City's most under-served public high schools, seniors in those schools will get a chance to showcase their talent as its annual YESFest — where Opening Act students create and perform plays — moves online.

"They've been working so hard all year for it," Sedgwick, a supporter of Opening Act, tells PEOPLE. "It's so hard to explain what happens in those classrooms except to say that every time I've gone and done a sample class or taught something myself or participated, I've just been completely blown away by the level talent there."

In a new initiative led by the witty hashtag #theshowmustgoONLINE, Sedgwick, 54, and Opening Act are hoping to raise enough money to continue giving classes to kids who need it now more than ever, especially leading up to the showcase on May 15. (Click here for more information.)

"Opening Act is so much more than theater, it's really about these kids learning tangible skills as well," she adds.

It's a personal subject for Sedgwick, who recalls not knowing her own worth until she stepped into the world of theater and arts.

"For me as a kid growing up in a private school in New York, it was like, I thought I was an idiot," she recalls. "I really didn't think I had anything to give, give the world. I didn't think I was talented in any way. I was a mediocre student."

She continues, "And it was really not until I became engaged in the arts that I came to understand I had something of value — I was something of value. I had a point of view about the world that I lived with in that was interesting and insightful and meant something and really boosted my self esteem."

The Emmy winner even remembers her "life-changing" performance during an eighth grade production of the musical Fiddler on the Roof, in which she played the oldest daughter Tzeitel

"It was when I found my love, my passion, my calling as an actor," she recalls. "It was transformative. I mean, it completely changed my life and I would cry on the days that I didn't have rehearsal because I just felt like it was where I connected with my soul and I connected with my being in such a profound way. It was like I was lost without it, as many artists are."

Head to Support.OpeningAct.Org to donate to the fundraiser.