Astro, along with co-star Charlie Rowe, recently chatted with Paste Magazine about his experiences so far working on the brand new TV series, Red Band Society. The show follows a group of kids living in a paediatric ward, all suffering from various illnesses. Because of the severity of their conditions, the teens are confined to the hospital and, in an attempt to re-establish a sense of normalcy, they learn to lean on each other. Most of all, they just want to have fun.
Enter Dash. Portrayed by 18 year old rapper Astro, Dash refuses to let his cystic fibrosis get in the way of his antics. “For me, so far my character only has to have fun,” he told Paste. “He’s one of the sickest kids eventually in the show, but he’s also one of the wildest. The main thing I have to bring to the Dash role is just to be wild and annoying—much like off-camera.”
To familiarize himself with the terminal illness, the young rapper will be doing some serious research. For now though, it helps that Red Band Society took the cast on a tour to raise money for The Ryan Seacrest Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Teen Cancer America, and The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. That’s where Astro’s research really began.
“We went to different hospitals and met different kids. I met a kid with cystic fibrosis in Atlanta, and he gave me a little bit of information… Mainly I learned that you’ve just got to enjoy yourself and appreciate every moment. He has cystic fibrosis but he isn’t down or depressed, or anything like that. He’s just living.”
The show is largely based on the real experiences of Alberto Espinoza, whose character will be taken up by Charlie Rowe, as Leo, Dash’s best friend. After spending ten years in a hospital battling cancer, Alberto maintains that he was going to die of boredom more than anything. However, it is Dash’s approach that resonates stronger with Astro, who spent a lot of time in hospitals as well. He explained, “I went to the hospital seven times one year when I was ten years old.” Ultimately, it started feeling normal to him, and he really just wanted to have fun during his stays, which sometimes lasted months at a time.
“I didn’t like the hospital,” Astro stated, but being surrounded by kids his age helped. “It wasn’t a depressing time,” he added.
Red Band Society also stars Oscar Winner, Octavia Spencer, as the kids nurse, and is executive produced by Steven Spielberg. It premiered Wednesday, September 16th on Fox.
You can also check out the video for Astro’s newest single, 88.