Justin Baldoni doesn't waste a single minute of the day. Between filming for Jane the Virgin with Golden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez and spending time with his wife and 13-month-old daughter, the actor-director works on passion projects with his company, Wayfarer Entertainment. One such project, the docuseries My Last Days, premieres August 17, on the CW.
My Last Days, which will air in three parts this week, profiles six "superheroes" facing terminal illnesses: Claire Wineland, a 19-year-old with cystic fibrosis; "Darth Vader," a half-marathoner with leukemia; Kat Lazo, a 25-year-old "proud lesbian" with stomach cancer; Isabel Bueso, an aspiring sociologist with mucopolysaccharidosis; Kendrick David Evans, a 25-year-old with a rare and fatal form of sleep apnea; and Jess Oldwyn, a 35-year-old with brain cancer.
Baldoni, 32, launched the series back in 2012, on a break from acting. He tells Us Weekly he was inspired by an idea from the Baha'i faith: "the idea that death is supposed to be joyful, but only if you're preparing your life for it."
"One of the things I realized is that we push away the idea that one day we won't be here anymore," he explains. "We procrastinate … we procrastinate to do literally everything. And that includes living the life we want to live and becoming the people we want."
With that in mind, Baldoni set out to find people who were "living incredible lives but also dying." It wasn't difficult. "Everyone wants to have their story told," he tells Us. "We're giving them something that will live long after them."
Indeed, Baldoni's 2013 episode about Zach Sobiech, whose song "Clouds" went viral before his May 2013 death at age 18, has more than 14 million views on YouTube, and comments as recently as July 2016. (Baldoni is still close with Sobiech's family and is making a studio film about his life.)
"At Wayfarer, at my company, one of the things that we take great pride in and we’re very careful about is making sure we’re telling people’s stories with honesty and sincerity," the CW star tells Us. "We are not creating regular reality television that exaggerates moments and makes people look more dramatic or this or that."
He adds: "It’s not normal filming. You’re going in, and these people are giving us their most valuable resource, which is their time, and they might not have as much left as you or I. We have to be very, very, very careful and appreciative of that time and create something beautiful for them."
Baldoni stresses that while he's the host of the show on the CW, it's not about him. He does say, though, that telling these stories has changed the way he sees his own. "Constantly surrounding myself with amazing individuals like Jess, Dan, Kendrick, Claire, Darth and all these people helps me remember that what I’m dealing with, while it's subjective in it being difficult, is nothing … They don’t choose sadness, they choose happiness despite their adversity," he says. "It helps me do the same, and I hope it helps our audience do the same thing."
Watch My Last Days on the CW on August 17, 18 and 19 at 9 p.m. ET.
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