Broadway is back, and Mary-Louise Parker couldn't feel more at home!
The actress, who was nominated for a Tony Award earlier this month for her performance as Li'l Bit in the revival of the Paula Vogel play How I Learned to Drive, opened up about the Broadway shutdown and how she coped amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I'm deliriously happy. Just to walk through the stage door at night, I feel like I know where I'm going and I understand my life," Parker, 57, tells PEOPLE, adding that her children, William Atticus, 18, and Caroline Aberash, 15, played a major role in keeping her optimistic as the theater world awaited its grand reopening.
"Sometimes it's performative for your kids, you have to be a little bit hopeful and try to be creative," she says of staying positive during the shutdown. "We put on plays, my kids and I, and we did [it] with their friends in other places and tried to write things and just connect in whatever way."
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As for finally being able to grace the stage again, Parker tells PEOPLE "every bit of" being back has filled her heart with gratitude.
"Setting up my dressing room, going to places and hearing the stage manager on the monitor — every bit of it made me want to cry, I was so happy," she says, going on to recall some of the heavier moments she experienced during the height of the pandemic.
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"I also remember walking through the theater district in the midst of COVID and all the theaters were dark, and I knew that they were dark, but to see them, I was just walking through, just weeping," she explains.
Parker, who is nominated for her fifth Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play for her performance in the revival of Vogel's Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive, couldn't contain her excitement when talking about the recognition.
Though she's taken home theater's highest honor twice, she says, "I'm so lucky! So, so lucky. It's my dream. I've always wanted to be a theater actress. It's all I've wanted to be."