NEW YORK -- Last summer's biggest movie blockbuster could also be in the running for Best Picture at this year's Oscars, but it's already given a big boost to a performer from the New York area.
Jean Louisa Kelly has acted since the age of 11 when she appeared in a regional production of "Annie," went "Into The Woods" on Broadway, and starred in the sitcom "Yes, Dear" for half a dozen seasons.
She has become adept at balancing a busy career with her life as a mother of two. Now, she's written a one-woman show about her life.
Entertainment Reporter Sandy Kenyon caught up with her at the Laurie Beechman Theatre in Midtown Manhattan where she was rehearsing for Saturday night's show.
Her show is a celebration of a life lived according to a simple principle which is embodied by the lyrics of her final number: "Anything can happen if you let it."
"It's the theme of the show, anything can happen if you let it," Kelly said. "I came from a small town in New England, and I ended up next to Tom Cruise."
A brief but pivotal role opposite Tom Cruise as the wife of Val Kilmer's character in "Top Gun: Maverick" came after she aced her audition.
"When I was driving to that audition, I was listening to 'Take My Breath Away,' I was like blasting it in the car," Kelly said.
Kelly has been working opposite big stars since she was a teenager.
She was still in high school when she appeared opposite the late John Candy in "Uncle Buck" and started filming "Mr. Holland's Opus" with Richard Dreyfuss just days after her college graduation.
The entertainer was successful and single until she met and married a young lawyer, Jimmy Pitaro. He is now Chairman of ESPN and they celebrated their 25th anniversary at the premiere of "Top Gun: Maverick".
"He has always encouraged me, he's always said, if I'm nervous about something, he says 'just go -- go to the audition, just get up at bat,'" Kelly said.
She transitioned from acting to singing after the birth of their children, Sean and Josey Pitaro. Her reasoning was simple.
"I could still be available to my kids, you know, I could schedule it around their schedule," Kelly said.
Her interesting life led to her solo show which, as her musical director Paul Bogaev said, has a high degree of difficulty.
"You're there as yourself, and that takes a lot of courage to do that," Bogaev said.
This is all the more remarkable because Kelly wrote the show herself during the pandemic.
"Putting it on paper I was really able to see how blessings always came through what felt like challenges," Kelly said.
Her show on January 21 is sold out, but you can watch via live stream here.