Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Billy Porter and More New Yorkers Join Campaign to Rebuild City

Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer and Billy Porter
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images ; Kevin Mazur/Getty Images; Santiago Felipe/Getty Images

NY Forever, which launched Thursday, is calling on New Yorkers who "want to turn this reckoning into a city-defining triumph."

One day after the swearing in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, a star-studded lineup of New Yorkers is uniting in hopes of rebuilding their city, one that continues to be hard-hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The NY Forever campaign launched Thursday with a website and social media push to build awareness and civic engagement around the recovery of New York City. The nonprofit group has enlisted more than 100 NYC icons from every borough in the film, TV, sports, theater and community spaces — "those that make up the fabric of our great city" — to help achieve their goal of enlisting at least half a million New Yorkers to take a pledge and commit to playing a part in the city's future.

Some of the notable Hollywood names who are participating include Jerry Seinfeld, Amy Schumer, Seth Meyers, Billy Porter, Ilana Glazer, David Harbour, Sarah Cooper, Nathan Lane, Michael Urie, Debi Mazar, Sandra Bernhard, Dylan O'Brien and Jill Kargman.

"New York’s comeback depends on New Yorkers," say founders Risa Heller and Jonathan Rosen in a joint statement. "We are eager to help our neighbors play a meaningful part in building New York’s future — by supporting locally owned small businesses, looking out for our unemployed restaurant workers, applauding our essential workers and caring for families battling homelessness. We are excited about this project and confident in the city’s resilience."

The group plans to release new videos with the participating NYC stars over the next 30 days. Seinfeld and Harbour can be seen in the first video, posted to NY Forever's social channels on Thursday.

Seinfeld, for his part, famously defended the city earlier this year in a fiery New York Times rebuke to the accusation that New York City is "dead" in the midst of the pandemic. He was also a vocal supporter of the Save Our Stages Act, which allocates $15 billion in COVID-19 relief funding for live venues, movie theaters and other cultural institutions that remain closed or partially closed during the pandemic, including Broadway.

The comedian later explained his calling to defend his city against such attacks, saying on 60 Minutes: "Somebody — a real New Yorker — has to answer this. I just don't want New Yorkism to die. I don't want it to be replaced by deep concern and over-sentimentality. You can have those things, but be a little badass, too. We don’t care if things are tough. Everything is always tough. It’s tough to live here."

After emerging from being the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020, NYC stabilized at around an 8 percent positivity rate in the weeks after Thanksgiving, as the country battles a second wave and post-holiday-season surge. As of Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio noted that while half a million vaccinations have been given so far, the city is running low on doses.

With indoor dining remaining closed, the city's hospitality industry continues to struggle. More than 1,000 NYC restaurants have permanently closed since the city's state-mandated shutdown in March, Eater reports.

A slew of restaurateurs — including Éric Ripert, Wilson Tang, Christina Tosi and Niki Russ — have joined up with NY Forever to help. In coming weeks, the group will launch an initiative to support out-of-work restaurant workers in partnership with restaurant employee relief fund ROAR, as well as partnerships to connect New Yorkers to urgent volunteer needs through New York Cares and Citizens Committee for New York City.

NY Forever states its mission as cheerleading for NYC, getting New Yorkers engaged and partnering with nonprofits to help New Yorkers in need. "Facing unprecedented challenges, New York City needs to turn this moment into a city-defining triumph. To do so, we wanted to build an inclusive brand to inspire all 8 million New Yorkers," says the group's marketing head Richard Mumby. "Our launch campaign will immerse all five boroughs with an exciting call-to-arms for New York City’s next chapter."