We could always use more diverse voices in comedy. CBC Gem hit comedy You’re My Hero brings Ian’s story to light with humor, heart, honesty and insightfulness. Ian (played by Sean Towgood, also the creator and executive producer) is a blunt 20-something with cerebral palsy who navigates a world not designed for wheels. A comedic gem with in-your-face plotlines and jokes that make you think, this series shakes up the prevailing views on what it means to live with a disability. 

Recently, I had the privilege of chatting with actor Vas Saranga, who plays Ian’s best friend and roommate, Eric. We discussed his role in the show, what fans can expect from You’re My Hero and more. 

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This interview is condensed for length and clarity. 

Melody McCune: We at GGA love a good origin story. How did you get into acting?

Vas Saranga: It all started when I saw the first Back to the Future movie. It multiplied by two when I saw the second one and multiplied infinitely when I saw the third one. I think I was eight years old when I saw that and I became a cinephile after that. Once I saw The Matrix, I settled on becoming a director and being at the cutting edge of really cool cinema, of mind-blowing imagery, and immersive worlds.

Then, a funny thing happened. In high school, I took film and media arts courses and had to shoot a few short films. I had to put myself in these short films as an actor out of necessity. We didn’t have access to other kids from the drama classes. As soon as I started playing characters in front of the camera, I realized that’s where my true passion was and that I enjoyed the smaller scope of stories and not just the vast landscape of these big action adventure sci-fi movies.

Actors Vas Saranga and Tina Jung laugh during filming of the CBC Gem comedy You're My Hero.

Pictured: Vas Saranga and Tina Jung in YOU’RE MY HERO

MM: Let’s talk about You’re My Hero. Can you tell me what it’s about and how you got involved with it?

VS: You’re My Hero is a sharp, funny and heartfelt show. It centers around Ian. He’s blunt, unfiltered and a 20-something navigating the world with cerebral palsy. He’s in a wheelchair, which creates issues in his life that he has to deal with relating to accessibility and discrimination, on top of trying to find love and dealing with friendships, dating, work life and family life. It adds this dimension to a coming-of-age story highlighting important issues surrounding disability and accessibility.

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MM: How does your character, Eric, fit into the narrative?

VS: Eric is best described as an emotionally immature young man with a heart of gold. He’s Ian’s best friend and roommate, so he ends up being the source of many problems for Ian because he is impulsive. At the same time, he is one of those guys that would drop everything to bail his friends out, even if he’s the one who got them in trouble in the first place.

He has a good heart but isn’t the best at understanding Ian’s accessibility requirements. Sometimes, he puts his own escapades first, making situations worse for Ian. Then, he has to learn an important lesson from it and maybe forget that lesson the next day and have to be reminded.

MM: Do you share any similarities with your character?

VS: The immaturity. That “do first” like quality. I know it’s funny to say that about myself, but it wasn’t hard to tap into, which some might find scary, but I embraced it.

MM: What do you hope viewers take away from the series?

VS: First and foremost, I hope they’re entertained. It’s really funny and original. It’s got an incredibly authentic voice because the creator, Sean Towgood, is also the star. Some of the situations are based on his own life experience, and others reflect the perspective of a person with a disability, in this case, cerebral palsy. Navigating situations that we might have seen before in other shows but have a completely different spin on them. It’s a fresh take on many of life’s important moments and has a lot of heart and strong characters. I hope people relate and connect to those characters but are also delightfully entertained.

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MM: Describe You’re My Hero using three words.

VS: Authentic. Original. Hilarious.

MM: What’s your favorite part of the acting process?

VS: It’s definitely improvising.

MM: Did you get to do a lot of improv on this show?

VS: We did a share of it on the show, but it was always rooted in the story and the script. Sometimes, there were physical gags. It wasn’t necessarily dialogue being improvised, but maybe moments in the silences or the way characters entered or exited the frame; how we moved around the frame and played with the beats in between the words can feel like improvising. Playing moment-to-moment and having it feel improvised is my favorite part of the acting process.

Actors Vas Saranga and Tina Jung laugh during filming of the CBC Gem comedy You're My Hero.

Pictured: Vas Saranga and Tina Jung in YOU’RE MY HERO

MM: What else is on the horizon for you, career-wise?

VS: I’ve got a holiday rom-com coming to Lifetime Network this Christmas. It’s called Mistletoe Match. I’ve got an independent film called Doubles with Slight Pepper that should be hitting the festival circuit later this year.

MM: Have you watched anything interesting lately?

VS: Everything Everywhere All at Once. I was so happy to see it sweep the Oscars.

MM: Name your top five favorite films.

VS: Back to the Future. The Matrix. Batman (1989). Jurassic Park. Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

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MM: Thank you so much for chatting with me, Vas!

VS: Thank you, Melody!

Follow Vas on Instagram (@vas_saranga) and watch all episodes of You’re My Hero on CBC Gem

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