“I love New York, and today I’m announcing my candidacy for governor. Join us,” Nixon tweeted alongside a two-minute video.
“New York is my home. I’ve never lived anywhere else,” she said.
“I’m a proud public school graduate, and a prouder public school parent. I was given chances I just don’t see most of New York’s kids today. Our leaders are letting us down,” she said in her campaign video.
She goes on to say that while she loves her home state, “something has to change.”
The ad includes footage of Nixon giving political speeches at events, including the People’s State of the Union event, last year’s Stonewall Inn LGBTQ rally in support of immigrant rights, the 2017 Women’s March in New York City, a Human Rights Campaign gala and the 2009 National Equality March in Washington, D.C.
Nixon in recent speeches has called on Democrats nationally to carve out a strong liberal identity instead of being merely the “anti-Trump party.”
The 51-year-old Manhattan mother of three is an ally of Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who frequently clashes with Cuomo on various issues.
The 60-year-old Cuomo was favoured 66 per cent to 19 per cent over Nixon in a recent Siena College poll.
Cuomo had no immediate comment on Nixon’s candidacy. But recently, he mocked the celebrity status the Grammy, Emmy and Tony winner could bring to the race.
“Normally name recognition is relevant when it has some connection to the endeavour,” Cuomo told reporters earlier this month. “If it was just about name recognition, then I’m hoping that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Billy Joel don’t get into the race.”
Last month, at the annual New York gala of Human Rights Campaign, which has endorsed Cuomo on, she took a backhanded stab at the governor’s record: “For all the pride that we take here in being such a blue state, New York has the single worst income inequality of any state in the country.”
Actress Rosie O’Donnell took to Twitter to announce her support for Nixon.
Nixon has been rumoured as a potential candidate since last summer.
Appearing on the Today show in August, Nixon wouldn’t answer when she was asked whether she plans to mount a campaign, but she said she had heard “rumours” about her potential challenge to Cuomo in the Democratic primary.
“I think there are a lot of people who would like me to run, and I think for a variety of reasons,” she said at the time. “But I think the No. 1 is education. We’ve got a real problem on our hands in New York state.”
She went on to criticize Cuomo’s handling of public education, saying the gap between rich and poor schools has never been greater.
Nixon won’t be the only celebrity candidate on the New York ballot. Former Law and Order: SVU actress Diane Neal is running for Congress as an independent in a Hudson Valley district.
—With files from the Associated Press