‘Zac & Mia’ Stars Open Up About Playing Teen Cancer Patients

"Zac Mia" Stars Kian Lawley and Anne Winters Talk About Their Roles

AwesomenessTV

Zac & Mia is a new AwesomenessTV series based on a novel of the same name by A.J. Betts about two teens being treated for cancer in the same hospital ward.

Awesomeness continues after advertisement

In the outside world, the two would have nothing in common, but under extraordinary circumstances, they forge an unbreakable bond.

At the show’s premiere party on Monday night at ATV’s headquarters, Zac & Mia stars Kian Lawley and Anne Winters spoke to ATV about the life-changing experience of portraying the two teens.

Check out the trailer for the series below, then be sure to stream Zac & Mia on go90.

Awesomeness continues after advertisement

>

AwesomenessTV: What were you initial thoughts when you read the Zac & Mia script?

Anne Winters: My initial thought was, ‘Wow, this is so genuinely sweet.’ It’s just so raw and so cute that you can’t help but smile. I just loved the way they portrayed this reality.

"Zac & Mia" Stars Kian Lawley and Anne Winters on Portraying the Reality of Cancer: Anne Winters

AwesomenessTV

Kian Lawley: Like she said, [I loved the way] they portrayed this reality. When I read the script I was kind of like, ‘Oh, this is another cancer story.’ But when you really dive deep, you can tell that these are just two regular characters that are going through regular things, but they just so happen to have something that they didn’t wish for; they have this issue that not everyone has. I thought that was a super important thing — to portray these characters with dignity.

"Zac & Mia" Stars Kian Lawley and Anne Winters on Portraying the Reality of Cancer: Kian Lawley

AwesomenessTV

ATV: Is this story personal for you at all?

AW: We may not have a lot of people that we know that have really dealt with this, but we went to the Mattel hospital and met with kids that were dealing with [cancer]. Even if you’re not super close to someone, if you hear someone’s story and it’s so truthful about going through this thing, it makes it so personal.

That’s what I think made it raw — we really put ourselves in a position to be those people that are living like that, and it feels personal.

KL: To some extent — nowhere near the realness of these people’s lives — but to some extent, I felt like that character in a way. I felt like I had that sickness and I was going through something. It was just a hard process.

ATV: You had a Make-a-Wish patient on set with you at one point. What was that like?

KL: It was nice. She got to come to set and enjoy the perks of being an actress. She got to have her own set chair, and she was actually in a scene with my best friend in the film and my sister — she played a nurse, and she did a great job. 

AW: It’s cool getting to be a part of something like that. A lot of people portray this kind of thing and that’s it, so I think it was really cool that Awesomeness allowed us to actually meet with kids that were actually going through it and have a Make-a-Wish person on set. And we got to meet with [teen cancer YouTuber] Sophia [Gall], too.

KL: She came out all the way from Australia — 14-hour flight all the way here. And she immediately just jumped into everything. I was like, ‘How do you do that? I can’t even do that!’

We did a little screening for her; she got to see the scene [where we showed her YouTube video]. It was so cool to see her face light up with joy, and see that she’s in it and she’s taking part in this movement.

ATV: Are there any other ways this project has been different for you than other things you’ve worked on?

KL: Yeah, this is the most different show that I’ve done — ever. One, I had to shave my head bald. I’ve never been bald in my life.

ATV: Yeah! How did you feel about that?

KL: Cold! There were pros and cons — I didn’t like the way it looked, but I didn’t really have to do anything with my hair, so that was pretty cool. But other than that, character-wise, you have to dig deep. You have to go into your treasure chest of emotions, and it was a process to get there. But we made it out alive.

AW: First of all, I just need to say props to [director Jason Perlman]. He really did pull us out of our comfort zones in so many ways that I did not think were possible. And that’s a big reason why [making this show] was different — I literally walked away every day feeling like, ‘Dang, that was crazy. That was so good.’

It was different because everyone’s hearts were really in it. This material really brought us to a vulnerable place, and everyone was so vulnerable with each other every single day that we really got to know each other.

ATV: How did you prepare to tackle this material?

KL: Like Anne mentioned before, we met up with several cancer patients and survivors; it was really nice to get the backstory and get all the details and facts straight before we started it. We didn’t want to make a mockery out of ‘just another cancer story’; we wanted to show the truth. But emotionally, I didn’t really prepare for it. It’s just something that hits you.