Inside & Outwards explores mental health and the feeling of isolation created by COVID-19 quarantine.
Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker feels very fortunate to have her family by her side during the pandemic, but she is aware that many feel isolated and alone.

So it was a no brainer when ballet dancer Sara Mearns and director Ezra Hurwitz asked her to narrate a mental health PSA titled Inside & Outwards, a film from HunterPark Productions that explores mental health and the feeling of isolation created by COVID-19, which was released today for World Suicide Prevention Day.

The project shows those who are alone are living a shared experience with others going through the same via a series of vignettes brought together artfully through dance, music by Sufjan Stevens, and her narration.

"Many of the pieces of this project were already in motion when I came on board," Parker tells EW. "Ezra and Sara Mearns reached out to me. I didn't know Ezra very well but I knew Sara from the New York City Ballet. They both emailed me, it was a very crazy time for me but I got back to them and said yes right away. A big draw for me was Sufjan Stevens' involvement, I know his work through of my son who is a big fan for many years. I was really thrilled to be a part of it."

Though the veteran actress had a full house that includes her husband Matthew Broderick and their three children, she admits she struggled in other ways during the pandemic.

"I think this period of time that we're talking about, you could be in a crowded house but there's still so much of concern outside your home," she explains. "And sometimes, the thoughts are overwhelming. I think the situation became worse and worse for so many so quickly. Lives were lost. Jobs were lost. Homes were lost. Businesses closing. Not feeling safe. There's just been so much uncertainty. There was something lonely about the worry and the concern but I can't say I could totally relate because I was surrounded by three kids and a dog and a cat and a husband. Our house is very busy. But I witnessed people that I care about going through that, so even if I couldn't relate to it, I certainly understood what it was doing to people."

The short film is somber-yet-beautiful and features a diverse cast of talent including Mearns, Dharon Jones, Carlos Gonzalez, Emma Portner, Ehlie Luna, Robert Fairchild, Gabriel Kane Day-Lewis, Brianna Lance, Maira Barriga, and Jasmine Rice. Parker says she was proud to be part of a project with a cast that represents the real world, and she hopes the film encourages viewers to speak openly and honestly about important topics like diversity and mental health.

"I'm not an expert on mental health but I'm thrilled that the filmmakers partnered with NAMI [National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City]," Parker says. "They are extraordinary. They are changing lives and taking care of countless people. And I feel like more and more people are sharing their stories. You know, we talk about illness in this country and we support by volunteering and we run for cancer. I think mental health is an illness that for many years we haven't thought of in the same way. So I'm feeling comforted and very excited that we are talking about it more openly. Let's talk about it more. There isn't a person I know that isn't affected by mental illness, whether it's through a family member or through a dear friend or a loved one. The more people who are brave enough to share their story, the better off we all are."

Watch the film in full above.

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