Scroll To Top

Turning a Tortured Adolescence Into a TV Series

Turning a Tortured Adolescence Into a TV Series


Coming out at 16 was mostly a nightmare for Ryan Zamo. He found catharsis by writing and producing his own show about the gay teen experience.

My show, Back Stabber, was first envisioned years ago as a final project in film school, but the message it carried was always something I fought for; acceptance, equality, and loving people for who they are -- regardless of age, race, religion, and sexual orientation.

I spent six years knocking on doors all over Hollywood to try to get it produced, and I was not stopping until I saw it happen. Last year I realized I had my own equipment, so I decided to grab some friends and produce it myself. No funding, no backers, no sponsors -- I produced the series for under $2,000, refusing to not see it through.

I watched YouTube tutorials on how to make blockbuster movies, and I did everything myself -- special effects, CGI, audio, editing, coloring; literally everything. And for the past 366 days, I have worked on this project, with no help from anyone -- besides my wonderful actors, who also worked for free, and stuck through it with me for the past year because we all believed in this message so much.

Growing up in New Jersey and coming out at 16 -- 11 years ago -- I faced so much bullying and harassment. It was hard to be OK with myself; I was one of about two openly gay people in my small town, and acceptance was not on its list of priorities. Because of the internal turmoil I struggled with, I quickly fell into heavy drugs and partying. Thanks to the grace of God, I am almost three years clean and sober off of meth, cocaine, and alcohol and am proud to help others still struggling with addiction.

I still cannot understand why people are afraid to befriend LGBT people, like their going to catch a virus. After I came out, my relationship with my family completely changed; they felt like they didn't know how to interact with me anymore. Two weeks before I them, everything was great; the only thing that changed was they found out I liked boys.

Back Stabber and its storylines were written from real events that I and people in my life have gone through. It's set in an uppity town in Pennsylvania, where the super-rich look down upon those that are "just rich," but a group of friends stick together and love each other unconditionally. No matter the ethnicity, income, sexuality, hobbies, or anything else, these friends come from completely divergent backgrounds and love each other for who they are, not what they are.

In the story are two gay kids, Isaiah (played by me) and Sam. Isaiah is loud, eccentric, and boisterous. Sam, on the other hand, is the shy, smart, nerdy type; I actually wrote Sam into the pilot just days before filming began. I wanted to show the contrast with Isaiah and break the stereotypical image of gay guys that society projects.

The two characters face battles of being accepted by society and their families, and struggle with self-acceptance as well. I wrote Sam and Isaiah as "the cool kids," because I wanted people to start embracing the thought of having gay friends. And despite all the drama and backstabbing, the testosterone-driven straight guys are still there standing up for the gay friends when they're bullied and attacked.

With each storyline being based on true events, I truly hope viewers find one character that runs parallel to themselves. I really hope our show can help make even a slight difference, and I truly think with such relatable stories, we can drive home the fact that at the end of the day, we're all just human.

Ryan ZamoRYAN ZAMO is a musician, actor, and creator of Back Stabber, which is now available on Amazon.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Ryan Zamo