EXCLUSIVE: (Sorta) supportive, a new TV series that addresses chronic conditions and disabilities, has been put together by writer/producer Travis Flores, a Cystic Fibrosis survivor and two time double-lung transplant recipient. Flores is a friend of the late Christina Grimmie and the music of the former The Voice contestant will be featured throughout the show
The series will shine a light on and employ those who may not otherwise not be hired for television. The project, which will highlight how important humor is to life’s challenges, is also being produced by Roo and Kanga Productions. The first of the shows, directed and also produced by Elisabeth White (via Roo and Kanga), was financed by a grant from non-profit PhAware.
The comedy will begin shooting later this month with the intent of utilizing talent with chronic conditions and disabilities. The project will bring awareness to, among other things, Ph (Pulmonary hypertension) while focusing on the truth behind chronic illness.
It will tell the story of a group of teens all battling chronic conditions, along with a dedicated hospital staff that helps them learn to cope through bucket-list type adventures. Through each character, we discover the reasons why they have fought to survive and the ways they will continue to find purpose as they move forward together. In the journey of (sorta) supportive, serious life and death issues are met with comedic undertones that help us all understand and appreciate each day.
Nearly every person on the show’s cast and crew has dealt with a chronic illness, either personally or through a family member. Talent aboard so far includes Elaine Hendrix (The Parent Trap), Broadway talent Zach Rand (Les Miserables, Mary Poppins), Irina Dubova (The Americans), Clement von Franckenstein (The American President), Kenton Duty (Lost), Hunter Doohan (Westworld), Dee Baldus (Parks and Recreation), Mosley Agin (Problem Child 3) and Caleigh Haber as well as Shira Strongin of thesickchicks.com fame. The show will also star seven-year old cancer survivor Violet Brielle Spataro.
“Having been through two double lung transplants in the past three years, I’ve learned to appreciate every moment,” said Flores, who is also an award-winning children’s book author. “This project is my way of saying ‘hello’ to Hollywood in the most authentic and transparent way possible. I’m not ashamed of what I’ve been through or the things I continue to face. I wrote a story about sick teenagers because I was a sick teenager. It was my mission to involve a cast and crew who have a personal connection to illness whether it be their own condition, or a loved one’s condition. My community of the chronic, terminal and disabled deserve the opportunity to share their own real-life moments of pain and triumph. That is what I hope (sorta) supportive will do.”
Roo and Kanga co-founder, Peter Lugo, will serve as the show’s DP. He has shot over 30 indie feature films (The Crossbreed, Tales of Frankenstein) as well as numerous TV projects.
“Over the years, I’ve found it difficult to relate to characters of my type in film and TV,” said Shira Strongin who is sick but remains undiagnosed. “There were no true role models. They were typically romanticized. I’m extremely proud to be part of a project where that is not the case. I am blessed to be able to play a character that is the role model I wanted when I was growing up.”
Zach Rand noted that “there’s a certain honesty lacking in storytelling. What it is like to live with a terminal or chronic disease, care for someone with a disease or even lose someone. My true passion comes from being able to share that experience so people understand the seriousness. I’m happy to be a part of the production in memory of my sister, Chloe, who was lost to PH.”
Grimmie, whose music will be used throughout the production, was shot and killed outside her concert venue in Orlando in June of 2016. Her parents Bud and Tina Grimmie have since become activists and have been overseeing the use of her music and have been using the proceeds from her music to help administer the Chrstina Grimmie Foundation which helps victims of gun violence as well as breast cancer. The Grimmies are preparing for the 2nd annual Christina Grimmie Foundation benefit (Sept. 25) to continue to raise funds.