Instagram Is a Wholesome Talent Show, With #HeyJenLookatMe & #SunshineSongs

Coronavirus will have some truly devastating fallout  — sickness, loss of life, hunger, economic hardship — but there is a lot of other emotional stuff we’re all going to be dealing with for a while. One of which is the fact that kids who have been looking forward to being in a big concert, a sports tournament, a play, a dance recital, a talent show, or an art exhibit are probably going to face a huge let down this spring. That’s the pain Broadway star Laura Benanti and actress Jennifer Garner are trying to ease a little bit. The result is something we can all enjoy during this season of social distancing, and maybe your kids will want to participate in it too.

“This time of year has so many people, from preschoolers to professionals, working their tails off to perform,” Garner wrote in a post over the weekend. “And now — the games, the meets, the recitals, the productions, big and small — are shut down.”

Since they won’t get their moment on the stage or in the stadium with schools closed and large gatherings canceled, she encouraged them to use the hashtag #HeyJenLookatMe to share their work on Instagram.

“To the Elsas and Matildas; to the Willy Lomans and Romeos,” she wrote. “Not to mention the flautists, the pianists, the gymnasts, the shot-putter. We want to SEE — show us what you’ve got!!”

Around the same time, Benanti put out a similar call, focusing on the theater kids of the internet. “If you were meant to perform in your High School musical and it was cancelled please post yourself singing, tag me and use the hashtag #SunshineSongs so whoever wants to can be your audience!!”

The result is an assortment of adorable, entertaining, inspiring, and funny content. Some of the #SunshineSongs performers made it to a segment on Sunday’s Good Morning America — no doubt a slightly bigger audience than they would have had in their high school auditoriums. Garner selected a pianist, some dancers, a kid practicing his baseball swing, and a little girl spinning in her wheelchair to highlight on her Instagram Stories.

But we really don’t need Garner and Benanti to curate this content for us. Just search on their hashtags and scroll through for some impressive talent (and some, shall we say, heartfelt performances). Here are just a couple we’ve enjoyed this morning:

There are only so many hours a day when we can look at the news and shop for hand sanitizer. We don’t know what the CDC has to say about this, but it seems healthy to cleanse your overworked brain with some wholesome content like this a few times a day, at least. Please, encourage your own kids to participate to keep us all going!

Here are more tips on how to keep those kids busy when school is out.


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