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Hackensack Actor's Role In Powerful Film Shines Light On Mental Illness

Shana DeAndrea of Morris County wrote, produced, co-directed and starred in "MAD," which sheds light on mental illness.
Shana DeAndrea of Morris County wrote, produced, co-directed and starred in "MAD," which sheds light on mental illness. Photo Credit: Jeffrey Mosier

A 33-year-old hairstylist from Morris County is shedding light on mental health through her new short film, "MAD."

The idea had been on Shana DeAndrea's mind for years. But it wasn't until earlier this month that the project came into focus.

"I was sitting at the news station at 3 a.m., and decided I needed to start writing," said DeAndrea, a freelance stylist for several news agencies. "March is Women's Month, and I gave myself the month to get it done, dedicating it to that."

The story contains parts of DeAndrea's own. 

"MAD" -- directed by Ishell Vaughan -- is about a woman (DeAndrea) trying to help her partner (Juan Carlos Merino of Hackensack),a professional athlete battling mental illness, which causes him to lash out. 

With no one left to help her, the woman realizes she is actually the one who needs help the most when she discovers she's carrying a child.

MAD

Shana DeAndrea

Shana DeAndrea produced, directed and starred in "MAD," which sheds light on mental illness.

Shana DeAndrea

Juan Carlos Merino.

Shana DeAndrea

The drive to help others can sometimes be detrimental, DeAndrea said.

"It's almost like an addiction to try and figure out the problem," she said. "But when it starts to hurt your life, you have to make a choice to walk away."

She hopes that people realize that this is not only her truth, but that of thousands of others.

"There is so much going on behind closed doors no one knows about," DeAndrea said.

"People keep things to themselves for years. Mental illness has so many forms and levels to it. It's not just an angry moment, drunk moment -- if it is someone's behavior, it's someones behavior... and it needs to be taken seriously."

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