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On the surface, she looks fine. Sure, she complains about joint pain or fatigue, but she exaggerates. If it were truly excruciating, she would be in the hospital, right? She says that she doesn’t feel well, but she doesn’t “look sick.” Nearly 24 million people in the United States suffer from a seemingly “invisible” disease caused by immune system dysfunction. It may reveal itself in the joints (Rheumatoid Arthritis), in the thyroid (Hashimoto’s), in the intestines (Chron’s Disease), or in any other soft body tissue as 1 of 80 identified autoimmune diseases (AID). Nearly 75% of those afflicted are women. Because research is typically driven by male-centered research, these diseases do not get the necessary attention to stimulate a sense of urgency for a cure. YOU DON’T LOOK SICK will examine the disease through three bold and audacious people determined to win at life in spite of debilitating symptoms, costly health care and ever-encroaching depression.
 
THE PARTICIPANTS
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JUSTIN BAKER- Participant, Co-Producer
 

 
Justin grew up in Yukon Oklahoma. He is a 39-year old actor, photographer, clown, and ... robot. He was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis at the age of 16 and with Crohn's Disease at the age 25 - right after his first hip replacement (hence the robot qualifier). He has also had a small bowel reduction as well as a second hip replacement. According to Justin, both of his hips are now cyborgs. He continues to chase after his dreams as a performer in Los Angeles all the while being outspoken regarding to chronic illnesses and mental health. He hopes that other chronic illness sufferers out there won't feel so alone. Check him out on the interwebs for clips of his performances or to gaze at his wonderful photography.
 
 
ALIZA PEARL- Participant, Co-Producer
 

 
Aliza Pearl is an actor, writer, and Sci-Fi junkie, who is living with Fibromyalgia and Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance. Of African-American, Puerto Rican, and Afro-Caribbean heritage, Aliza explores identity and split cultural ties through Sci-Fi and genre storytelling. Aliza’s acting credits include Showtime's "House of Lies", "Days of Our Lives”, Funny or Die viral video "A Game of Thrones Halloween”, indie features including “Faith Based”, “Darkness Falls”, and “Something is Killing Tate”, films and videos for WongFu Productions, Black and Sexy TV, Comediva's popular webseries "BAMF Girls Club”, and various commercials. She wrote for Nerdist News and Nerdist Presents, and was a cast member on the live streaming tabletop RPG shows “Shield of Tomorrow” and “Callisto 6” on Geek & Sundry, and “Rat Queens” on Hyper RPG. Aliza co-directs, co-produces, and performs in an improvised Star Trek show called “The Improvised Generation,” performs and co-produces with Ripley Improv, and also produces and co-stars in an all-Klingon TTRPG show called “Blood of the Void” on Queue Times on Twitch. She has several other Sci-Fi projects and scripts in the works.

ARIANA FARINA - Participant, Co-Producer


 

In 2014, Ariana was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, but she tracks flares from the disease all the way back to 1999. Her path to diagnosis was long and difficult, but she continues to fight to control it. She even became a special case study for some of the top gastroenterologists worldwide, while seeking help from UCLA Medicine, The Mayo Clinic and the Taymount Clinic in the UK.  But, her accomplishments outshine her disease. She is the Chair for Narrative Features Programming, Unleashed! Programming and Senior Producer at the Dances with Films festival.  In addition to festival programming, Ariana is a Film Competition Judge for prominent film competitions in Los Angeles and a Jury Member to festivals worldwide. Currently, Ariana is touring the U.S. presenting on Film Festival Submission Strategy for Filmmakers, including speaking engagements at Film Independent, USC School of Cinematic Arts, and Women in Film Chicago. When not working at film festivals, Ariana runs her Regulatory and Quality Consulting business. Ariana Farina, Founder of Ariana Farina Consulting LLC, is a Regulatory and Quality Systems Consultant to the Cosmetics Industry. She has 15 years of experience helping hundreds of brands and factories across the world with their quality, regulatory compliance,  and international expansion needs. Ariana developed and taught the first Regulatory class at FIDM. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of California - Los Angeles. Ariana hopes that through her journey, she will be able to raise awareness about the challenges folks suffering from autoimmune diseases face, and to help those suffering from autoimmune diseases to alleviate their pain, navigate the pitfalls within the healthcare system, and live more fulfilling lives.

 

THE FILMMAKERS

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JESSICA L. FUNCHES - Producer, Writer & Director


 

Jessica was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 24 and Hashimoto's Disease in her early 40's. Prior to having RA, she lived an very athletic and active life. Upon diagnosis, her doctor (at the time) informed her that, because she had such an aggressive form of the disease, she would most likely need a walking device in 5 years and would be confined to a wheelchair in 10 years. Though she has had a hip and knee replacement, she is still going strong! Jessica wants to bring the same hope that God has given her to others through this documentary.

Jessica is a passionate storyteller. She has written, produced and directed award-winning short form documentaries, television documentaries and independent films over the course of her 19-year filmmaking journey.

While attending the University of Southern California’s (USC) Peter Stark Producing Program, Jessica won a coveted Peter Stark Special Project grant to produce the short film HOPE’S CHOICE. HOPE’S CHOICE played at the Cannes International Film Festival in the Kodak Emerging Filmmaker’s Showcase and won several awards including a College Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The short aired on Showtime and HBO/Cinemax Latin America. Additionally, Jessica produced the feature film SOMETHING IS KILLING TATE, which garnered a dozen film festival awards and premiered on the Starz Network.

In 2018, Jessica’s screenplay, “One Last Bow,” was selected as 1 of 22 projects from over 4100 submissions to be a part of Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment project accelerator program – Imagine Impact. Also, in 2018, her screenplay titled "Lost People" was honored as the 1st Runner Up in the 2018 Copper Mountain Film Festival Screenwriting Competition.

Jessica served as Producer and Story Producer on The Africa Channel series “World Wide Nate: African Adventures” - currently airing on UMC.tv. She also co-wrote and directed the television documentary FROM HARVEST TO TABLE: THE STORY OF THE LA VICTORIA® BRAND, a 30-minute segment produced by NBC4 Southern California that explores the rich history of the LA VICTORIA® Brand.

In addition to her various film and television projects, Jessica has also produced, written and directed several short form documentaries and DVD special features for Warner Brothers titles including TROY: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT, FOOL’S GOLD, NIP TUCK, WE ARE MARSHALL and THE CLOSER.

 

 

 

 

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