Today's Top Entertainers Reflect on How Arts Education Put Them on the Path to Stardom

Seven prominent entertainers, from actors to athletes, share the difference arts eduction made in their lives and careers—and why it's more important than ever.

Anthony Mackie

I had amazingly supportive parents. When I told my mom I wanted to play the trumpet, she took $15 a month and rented me one so I could take lessons. And when I told her I wanted to go to New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Louisiana’s performing and visual arts high school, she drove me uptown so I could audition—and then made sure I was on the bus every morning, with breakfast in my belly.

I went to Warren Easton High School for the first half of the day. It was a very international public school. There were kids from Central and South America, from Africa, and I got to experience their culture, their language, their food. I also saw kids who got murdered on their block. Then, at lunch, I would take a bus over to NOCCA. I met kids from all different walks of life. I got to watch [jazz musicians] Jason Marsalis and Irvin Mayfield perform when they were just kids. What was most important for me was having both realities, and that’s what informs me as an actor today.

Anthony Mackie has starred in Captain America films and The Hurt Locker and was most recently in Detroit. He lives in New Orleans.

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Chris Alexakisart, policy, education