Pop-Culturalist Chats with Anne Winters
Anne Winters is capturing our hearts in her breakout role as the title character in the AwesomenessTV and go90 collaboration, Zac & Mia. A popular girl at school, it seems like Mia has it all. But underneath the surface, she’s hiding her battle with cancer. Anne’s performance is sincere, honest, and raw. It’s an emotional roller coaster that will make you laugh and cry all within the same episode.
Pop-Culturalist had the opportunity to speak with Anne about the role, what she hopes fans will take away from the series, and why this story is so important to kids around the world.
P-C: Tell us about Zac & Mia and your character.
Anne: Zac & Mia is based on a book by A.J. Betts, and I play Mia. It’s a love story between two normal kids who have been diagnosed with cancer.
Kian’s character, Zac, has been at the hospital for a while. His family is always around and helps him. Then, I come in, and I’m in complete denial. I haven’t told any of my friends. I’m trying to forget that I have cancer.
We kind of end up falling for each other in this vulnerable state that we’re both in. We meet because we’re sharing a wall at the hospital.
P-C: What drew you to this project?
Anne: The script is so genuine and sweet. It’s been so rewarding being a part of a show that deals with something that a lot of kids go through and does it in a very honest way. It’s really heartbreaking.
When we began filming, we got to meet with a lot of kids who were battling cancer. We went to the hospital and talked with them about their journeys. It was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life, and it made this such a passionate project for me.
It’s hard to put into words but after reading the script, it really got to me, and I was like, “I have to do this.”
P-C: The series is based on a popular YA novel. How faithful is this adaptation to the book? Were you familiar with it prior to filming?
Anne: As soon as I learned it was a book, I ran to the store, bought it, and read it immediately. It’s definitely the same story, but there are a lot of differences. In the book, Mia is a bit more mean. On the show, I tried to make her a little less tough. You’ll get to see her more vulnerable side a lot quicker than the book.
P-C: Did you have the opportunity to work or speak with the author of the book?
Anne: We got to meet her at the premiere, and she was so sweet. She was so happy talking with us, and I’m glad I got to meet her.
P-C: How challenging was it for you as an actress to play a character who is battling so much in her young life?
Anne: It was very challenging. I wasn’t able to draw from previous experiences because I’ve never gone through something like this. I really had to put myself in Mia’s shoes and go there emotionally.
I’m so glad I got to do it with Kian. We got really close and left each day and felt like we gave it our all.
P-C: In the first episode we see that Mia doesn’t really allow herself to be vulnerable–not even to the people closest to her. Will we see her open up more as the season progresses?
Anne: Yes. 100%. At the beginning of the show, she has a wall up. It’s because she’s so vulnerable inside, and she doesn’t want to let anyone in just yet. But Zac really gets to her, and that’s why they end up sharing such a special connection. Even when she tries to shut people out, they win her over by just being authentic and available for her. You’ll see her walls break down. Just you wait!
P-C: There’s a touching moment in the first episode between Zac and Mia after she undergoes her first round of chemo, and Zac plays her a song to comfort her. Can you talk about filming that scene and how you and Kian built your bond/chemistry?
Anne: First off, that scene is adorable. After we read it at the table read, everyone was smiling, and I was almost in tears. I still get choked up thinking about that moment and being there. No matter how many times they play that song, and no matter how many times we did that scene, I kept crying. It was raw emotions every single take.
The funny thing about filming a television series is that we shoot things out of order. By the time we filmed that scene, Kian and I had already built a bond. We had let our walls down by that point. We were like, “Okay. We’re in this together.” I think it really made that scene memorable.
P-C: What’s been the most rewarding part about this experience?
Anne: The most rewarding part about this experience is getting to meet with the young kids who are battling cancer. It’s crazy to think about how many of them have been put in this horrific situation.
Through the show, we got to make a small difference in a few of these kids’ lives and that’s been so meaningful. I invited one of the girls we met at the hospital to our premiere, and she had so much fun and couldn’t stop smiling. It made my whole night.
Then, we got to be part of Make-A-Wish, and had someone be part of our show. She always wanted to act, and it was incredible to give her that experience.
We also had another girl, Sofia, from Australia, who’s a YouTuber, spend the whole day with us. It was a blast. Their true stories have been so touching and amazing.
P-C: If you had to pick your favorite scene this season what would it be?
Anne: I can’t say too much but it’s later on this season. Zac takes Mia on this really cute date and it’s just so genuine.
P-C: Besides Zac & Mia, where can fans see you next?
Anne: I’m in the second season of 13 Reasons Why. I don’t know when it’s coming out but I think in March. And then in September 2018, I have a movie called Night School, with Kevin Hart, coming out.
Check out this exclusive clip from tomorrow’s episode:
Pop-Culturalist Speed Round
P-C: Guilty pleasure TV show?
Anne: The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
P-C: Guilty pleasure movie?
Anne: Legally Blonde
P-C: Favorite book?
Anne: Well, right now off the top of my head I’m going to say Zac & Mia.
P-C: Favorite social media platform?
P-C: Favorite play or musical?
P-C: A band or artist that fans would be surprised to learn is on your playlist?
Anne: I love Blink-182.
P-C: Hidden talent?
Anne: Oh my God. A hidden talent. I share all of my talents.
Photo Credit: AwesomenessTV