When you’re a teen, the last thing on your mind is your own mortality. But for the title characters in AwesomenessTV’s new show, Zac & Mia, that isn’t the case. Based on the novel by A.J. Betts, the series tells the story of two teens battling cancer in the same hospital.
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In the real world, Zac and Mia would have pretty much nothing in common, but while hospitalized, their exchanges through a shared wall evolve into an unbreakable bond. If cancer is the variable that changes everything, the only constant is their ever-deepening need for one another.
Zac & Mia premieres November 7th on go90, but in the meantime, here are seven facts to know before you watch.
1. Anne Winters plays Mia, a 17 year old who’s hiding her cancer diagnosis from her friends and followers on social media. Things definitely change for Mia when she meets Zac.
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Winters is also set to star on Season 2 of 13 Reasons Why.
2. Kian Lawley plays Zac, an aspiring Mark Zuckerberg. You know Kian’s dedicated to the role because he really learned to play guitar for the show, and actually sings during Season 1. He also shaved his head for the series!
3. Author A.J. Betts started writing the book Zac & Mia in 2009 after working on a cancer ward in a children’s hospital. She stopped writing when her main inspiration — a young woman named Tayla — died suddenly, but picked it up again when Tayla’s mother encouraged her to go on.
4. During production, ATV partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to make teen Mylea Marinello’s biggest dream come true. She’s always wanted to be an actress, so we invited her to appear in episode 6 of Zac & Mia as a nurse on the cancer ward.
5. In the series, Zac is being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Every year, about 400 teens in the U.S. are diagnosed with this disease.
6. ATV invited Sophia Gall, an incredible young woman and teen cancer vlogger from Australia, to be a part of the show. She’s a huge fan of Kian’s, so we gave her a guest spot in episode 5, and also brought her to our headquarters in L.A. to screen the first three episodes of the show with its stars.
7. Kian and Anne visited the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles to meet with real cancer survivors and teens undergoing treatment for various types of cancer to learn about the people they were portraying.
Zac & Mia has us thinking a lot about the impact cancer has had on all of our lives. Share your story in the comments if cancer has affected your life in any way.