Actress. Born Kyra Minturn Sedgwick on August 19, 1965, to Patricia Heller, an educational and family therapist, and Henry D. Sedgwick, a venture capitalist. Sedgwick has something of a blue-blood pedigree; her great-grandfather Endicott Peabody founded the famous Groton School and her cousin Edie Sedgwick was the celebrated muse of 60s pop artist Andy Warhol. Sedgwick’s parents split when she was young, and at the age of 6 she moved with her mother to her stepfather’s home on the Upper East Side of New York City.
A fan of the theater and a friend of many Broadway celebrities, Patricia Heller encouraged her children to take an interest in the arts. When she was 12, Kyra Sedgwick took to the stage for the first time in a school production of Fiddler on the Roof. As she later remembered, “I just fell in love. For the first time, my soul was free.”
By the age of 16, Kyra Sedgwick had become a professional actor, landing a recurring role on the soap opera Another World. But she always saw soaps as just a beginning. “I knew I wanted to be a great actor,” she said. After graduating with a high school diploma from Manhattan’s Friends Seminary, she briefly attended Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Southern California. Formal education wasn’t for Sedgwick, however, and she quit to pursue her craft full time. Little did she know that her life was about to take an unexpected turn.
Sedgwick had been cast in a PBS version of the Lanford Wilson play Lemon Sky. On set, she met co-star Kevin Bacon, an actor who had already achieved Hollywood fame for his roles in films such as Footloose and Diner. Sedgwick initially found him repulsively arrogant. “I met him on the first day: He got into the van, he wasn’t very friendly, he had an attitude,” she recalled. Bacon eventually changed her mind. The couple married in 1988, when Sedgwick was 22; first son Travis was conceived almost immediately, on their honeymoon. Daughter Sosie followed three years later. “If someone had told me that at 22 I was going to meet the man I was going to marry and at 23 I would marry him and have a child, I would have told them they were out of their mind,” Sedgwick said.
Sedgwick’s career had been gaining steam at the time of her marriage, with the actress landing key roles on Broadway—in the Eugene O’Neill play Ah, Wilderness!—and in Hollywood—opposite Tom Cruise in the film Born on the Fourth of July. Sedgwick became even more selective in taking parts after the births of her children. She limited her appearances to small, quality roles, such as the daughter of the characters played by Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in the 1990 film Mr. & Mrs. Bridge. Sedgwick starred as Julia Roberts’s sister in 1995’s Something to Talk About and mixed roles in films like Singles and Phenomenon with appearances in indie flicks and television.
Sedgwick’s career took a new turn when she was cast as the lead in the TNT drama The Closer, which premiered in 2005. She played deputy police chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, a tough Southern cop with a knack for getting perps to confess to their crimes. Though initially reluctant to leave her New York-based family for six months a year to film in Los Angeles, Sedgwick accepted the role. The show, boosted by Sedgwick’s winning performance, gained robust audiences and critical reviews. In 2010, Sedgwick won an Emmy for lead actress in a drama series, the first major award of her long and varied career.
“TV is a very intimate experience for people, and I know that because of the way they react to you when they see you on the street!” Sedgwick said of her new connection with fans. “They say, ‘Oh, I loooooooove you!’ It’s this deep connection and a very intimate one. They feel like they know you; you’re in their living room… And I appreciate being that person that’s accessible enough so that people can be intimate with me onscreen and on the street.”