Lucy Liu Wants to #BringArtBackToSchools After Her Childhood Passion Changed Her Life

Lucy Liu has school art programs to thank for her success as an actress.

The Kill Bill star, 49, tells PEOPLE she mined her creativity by exploring her artistic hobbies at school. Growing up, Liu says, her parents didn’t encourage art in their home. The only time she could explore that side of herself, she says, was in school.

“It actually changed my life completely because since we were so math and science oriented,” she recalls. “When I started to get involved and do art on my own and at school in those programs, I was able to understand that I really wanted to have a creative life. Once I graduated from school I obviously pursued that and continued to pursue it even though my parents were not thrilled about that.”

That’s why Liu says she is partnering up with LIFEWTR, the premium bottled water company, and the brand’s “Arts in Education Series” on Arts Advocacy Day to drive conversation around the importance of arts in education and help #BringArtBackToSchools. On Monday, the actress posted about the campaign to her Instagram alongside a message on how her fans can get involved and help their local schools receive free art kits from LIFEWTR.

“Today, @LIFEWTR is announcing a commitment to reach one million students nationwide in the next year through curated curriculum, distribution of art supplies and local partnerships to champion this cause and inspire the next generation of artists like myself,” she wrote. “Please join me and share your story about how art has had a positive impact on you or someone you know, zip code and #BringArtBackToSchools. They’ll be donating art kits to classrooms in select schools across the country.”

The initiative combines two of the things Liu is most passionate about. As a mom herself to 2-and-a-half-year-old Rockwell Lloyd, the Elementary actress says it’s important to make sure kids explore their creativity when young.

“I have a few focuses. One of them is children, the other one is art and the other one is acting,” Liu says. “With kids especially, there’s a certain freedom that they have with the way they express themselves and that’s what we should tap into now. And what I love about what LIFEWTR is doing is they’re advocating for that and they’re advocating for people to have an opportunity to discover themselves as artists and to inspire other people.”