Actor Anthony Ramos and Brooklyn beep team up to revive after-school theater program in Bushwick

Hamilton actor, Anthony Ramos, and Brooklyn Borough President announce the return of after school theater program in Bushwick.
Actor Anthony Ramos, and Brooklyn Borough President announce the return of Opening Act, an after-school theater program in Bushwick.
Photo by Lauren Tepfer

He won’t let Bushwick students throw away their shot!

A free after-school theater program in the neighborhood will return thanks to a lofty $40,000 donation from Grammy award-winning actor Anthony Ramos and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso.

The pair announced their support for Opening Act — a nonprofit that offers in-depth acting education to New York City public schools — at a May 15 panel hosted by Action Lab at The Brooklyn School for Social Justice. Opening Act previously worked with the school but was forced to pause due to pandemic-related budget concerns, and the funding will go toward bringing the program back to the school’s Bushwick campus.

“The arts are and always have been an engine of social justice, and in our city, they should be an essential part of our students’ education,” Reynoso said. “All too often, however, our arts programs and aspiring artists are left without the funding, resources, and spaces they need – and that starts in our schools. I’m so grateful that Brooklyn could come together today to make it clear: the arts belong in our schools.”

Anthony Ramos and Borough President Antonio Reynoso bring back after school theater program with $40,000 donation.
Anthony Ramos and Borough President Antonio Reynoso brought back an after-school theater program with a $40,000 donation. Photo by Lauren Tepfer

Reynoso allocated $20,000 in discretionary funding from the 2025 Fiscal Year budget and Ramos matched that with a $20,000 donation from the Anthony Ramos Charitable Fund.

For Ramos, who is most commonly known for his roles in the Broadway musical Hamilton, the film adaptation of “In The Heights” and “Transformers: Rise of the Beast,” this announcement hit close to home, as he was raised in Bushwick.

The star has been an advocate for art programs since getting his own education at the New Utrecht High School in Bensonhurst. He told Brooklyn Paper art is more than a passion — it’s a tool that can change the trajectory of someone’s life. 

“If you grow up in a neighborhood like what Bushwick was, the odds were stacked against us. It’s this climb to break barriers and eliminate patterns,” Ramos said. “I don’t think anything brings people together like music and sports. You can really impact people and their lives through the arts. There’s nothing more powerful.”

Ahead of the announcement, Ramos joined Sara Steinweiss, his mentor and former high school teacher, and Jolie Santiago, a youth organizer and senior at El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice, to discuss how art plays a part in social justice and how programs like Opening Act further community and personal development. 

“It’s that togetherness,” Ramos said of growing up in Bushwick. “Although it was tough, it helped me to be where I am now.”

Ramos posed with members from Opening Act, the organization that brings acting programs to public schools in New York City.
Anthony Ramos posed with members from Opening Act, the organization that brings acting programs to public schools in New York City. Photo by Lauren Tepfer

Jorge Sandoval, principal of the Academy of Urban Planning and Engineering, spoke of the actor’s journey, calling it a “playbook for the youth to follow” as they grow their talents.

“We must continue to celebrate the arts in Bushwick and the passions and creativities of our students,” Sandoval said. “Thank you to today’s guests and partners for showing what it looks like to support the arts and bringing after-school theater programming back to our students.”

Reynoso honored the actor with a proclamation declaring May 15 as “Anthony Ramos Day” in recognition of the award-winning actor’s legacy of arts advocacy and excellence.

“I am grateful to be able to give back to the community that has given me so much and shaped who I am today. Brooklyn,” Ramos said.

May 15 is officially Anthony Ramos Day in Brooklyn thanks to a proclamation made by the beep.
May 15 is officially ‘Anthony Ramos Day’ in Brooklyn thanks to a proclamation made by Borough President Antonio Reynoso. Photo by Lauren Tepfer

According to Jesus Gonzalez, co-founding advisor of The Action Lab, putting homegrown leaders in front of students encourages them to shine in their own right. With the help of Opening Act, he hopes students can feel inspired to pursue their dreams. 

“Now [Ramos and Reynoso] are giving a new generation of young people in Bushwick an opportunity to shine, and those youth will, undoubtedly, inspire and amaze us,” he said.