As Americans enter the final month of our coronavirus-dominated summer, the big question on every family’s mind is: “Will kids go back to school in the fall?” Reports of rising infection rates have already forced some districts to return to a virtual learning model, and major risks remain for those states that are hoping to forge ahead with in-person instruction. Like all parents, Katie Holmes has been contemplating what’s in store for her high school-bound daughter, Suri Cruise, who recently celebrated her 14th birthday. Born in 2006 to Holmes and her then-husband, Tom Cruise, the teenager is a longtime New Yorker and has reportedly attended various schools around the city. As of now, New York City public schools will not re-open fully in September, and the status of most private schools are equally uncertain.
“I want everybody to be as safe as possible,” Holmes — whose latest film, The Secret: Dare to Dream premieres on VOD on July 31 — tells Yahoo Entertainment about her hopes for a possible return to school in the fall. “It’s a hard one: I have no expertise on this in terms of health measures, but I just want to be as smart as possible for the whole community and to really prevent anyone from getting sick. My heart really goes out to all the people who have lost people.” (Watch our video interview above.)
Holmes says that she and her daughter were in and out of New York City during the initial wave of COVID-19 cases in the spring, and she remembers all the “different emotions” they experienced as case numbers climbed and families lost loved ones. “In the beginning, it was 800 deaths a day, which was horrible,” the actress recalls, adding that watching citizens mobilize to combat the pandemic brought some much-needed inspiration. “People were volunteering, medical workers were coming in from other states and then at 7 o’clock when people were ringing and clapping, it was like ‘Wow.’”
The pandemic was followed by a series of protests inspired by the death of George Floyd, and Holmes — who has expressed her support for Black Lives Matter and justice for Breonna Taylor on her Instagram feed — found that outpouring of support equally inspirational. “All of the protests were incredible and important, and so clarifying. I feel like there’s been such a transformation of humanity; it’s been a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of. Even though this is a really hard time, you’re seeing the best of people.”
Holmes hopes that her new movie also has the power to bring the best out of people. Based on Rhonda Byrne’s enormously successful self-help book, The Secret: Dare to Dream casts her as Miranda Wells, a widow and single mother to three kids trying to do her best in the face of numerous personal challenges. Enter handsome stranger, Bray Johnson (Josh Lucas), who teaches her and her family the secret of The Secret: visualizing what you want in life as a way to achieving it.
“I’ve met so many incredible women who have very, very similar circumstances [to Miranda],” Holmes explains. “When I was preparing to play her, I talked to some people very close to me who have gone through a lot in their lives, just to make sure that we created a character who is very realistic. I feel like every human struggles; it’s part of life. Watching her go through this and having a change of heart, I hope it’s healing for people. I think movies have the power to do that.”
The actress also took inspiration from Byrne, who was frequently on set during production. “She’s a beautiful soul,” Holmes says of the author, whose book has sold over 30 million copies since it was first published in 2006. Asked whether she’s ever used the Secret in her own life, Holmes points to her acting career as an example of something she visualized into reality. “When I was a little girl, I always dreamed of being in the movies, so that worked! I feel grateful every time I’m on set… and to have this movie come out right now that is so hopeful. We all need to be reminded of the importance of that, especially in the year that we’ve had.”
Watch our full interview with The Secret: Dare to Dream cast on YouTube
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: