Managing CF alongside an uncertain schedule: Jack’s story

Feature -

As part of our new programme of employment support for people with CF, Work Forwards, 24-year-old actor Jack Norris shares his journey into acting and talks about how he manages his hectic schedule alongside his CF.

Jack is best known for his role in the 2021 film Requiem, where he starred alongside Bella Ramsey. However, most recently, he has been working as a Movement Director with ZooCo Theatre on their new stage show Bossy. Jack took some time out from his day to share his story with us.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and your CF journey?

I was diagnosed with CF at birth. Growing up, I was always relatively healthy, but I did need to have regular IVs, and I was in and out of the hospital quite frequently.

Managing my CF at school was always a little bit awkward. Secondary school can feel like a popularity contest, so I felt a lot of pressure to try to fit in. While all my schoolmates were very lovely about my CF, I did feel embarrassed about it.

But, now I am more comfortable in my skin, so I feel happier to open up about my CF.

How did you find starting Kaftrio?

I had the most cataclysmic reaction to it. It was huge. I started Kaftrio while my lung function was still quite low, so I had become used to feeling tired and achy all the time.  But everything changed the day I started Kaftrio.

I took my first dose in the morning, and later that day, while I was on a walk with my parents, my body began to feel really strange. My fingers went all tingly, and for the first time ever, I became aware of just how shallow my breaths were. My lungs are generally not very productive, but on that day, my breathing started to rattle.

I began to cough, and it honestly felt as though half of my lungs had fallen out. Suddenly I felt so much space in my lungs, so we rushed home to do a lung function test, and it had improved by 30%. I hadn’t had a lung function result that high since I was five years old. It was the most insane moment of my life.

There is no average day for me, which can make fitting in my CF medicine routine a bit challenging, especially if I am filming or rehearsing. But I always make sure I do my medicine and physio because it would be very difficult to manage such a chaotic schedule without a strong body and mind.

Jack Norris

What inspired you to become an actor?

It wasn’t until my health took a turn for the worst (before I had Kaftrio) during college that I started to think about my future. During sixth form, I got diagnosed with mycobacterium abscessus in my lungs, which caused my lung function to get a lot worse and plummet to about 58%. That was the worst I’ve ever felt.

Jack on stage in between two other actors

At that point in my life, I started to question what career path I wanted to take. I had always had a passion for theatre, acting and creativity, but my school was academically focused, so I couldn’t properly pursue acting then. I was led to believe that acting was something fun to do on the side of a ‘proper’ job.

But while I was in the hospital, hooked up to some really strong IVs, I remember thinking, “I am going to go for it. I am going to be an actor.” Once I had made that commitment in my head, nothing was going to stop me.

How did you get into acting?

As soon as I got out of the hospital, I spoke to my drama teacher at school. She told me that if I wanted to pursue acting as a full-time career, I needed to leave school and go elsewhere. So I found a new college where I studied performing arts for two years. And that was the beginning of my journey into acting. 

During that time, I also joined the National Youth Theatre and went to various youth acting companies. After college, I went to a very prestigious drama school called LAMDA, where I did some short courses. It was my first real taste of the discipline required to be in the arts.

Jack and Bella

Then I got offered a spot at drama school, where I studied physical theatre for three years. After graduating from university, I joined a drama club and found myself an agent. Through the agency, I got to tour with some really interesting drama companies, and I also did a film for Netflix called Requiem, where I acted alongside Bella Ramsey.

What does an average working day look like for you, and how do you manage your CF?

There is no average day for me, which can make fitting in my CF medicine routine a bit challenging, especially if I am filming or rehearsing. But I always make sure I do my medicine and physio because it would be very difficult to manage such a chaotic schedule without a strong body and mind.

I need to keep physically and mentally fit, and a part of that is ensuring that my CF jobs get done. So no matter what happens or how chaotic my job is, there is a list of things for my CF that I have to do. I am very disciplined about it.

Any top tips?

Have a good routine. Once you start missing meds or skipping physio, it becomes a habit. So try as hard as you can to keep doing them and adapt your schedule to fit around your work.


What do you love most about what you do?

The uncertainty of it. It’s so exciting to never know where I will be each day. It feels like anything is possible, which has led me to fall in love with my job and the life that comes with it.

What motivates you the most in your career?

The understanding that you only live this life once. If you have a passion for what you’re doing, and you wholeheartedly believe that you are here to do a particular job, to be a performer or to live a creative life, then you are doing yourself and the world injustice if you don’t try to live your dream.

You must come to terms with your restrictions, accept that you can’t do anything about them and then make the most out of what you’ve got. CF has given me the determination to push through struggles, and it has allowed me to see the beauty in things.

What are your hopes for the future? 

I want to continue living this creative life, meeting fascinating and quite eccentric people. I want to continue learning, get better at my job and maintain my health.

If you’ve got a question about work and CF, want to talk through your career options, or want support to balance work and health or CF caring responsibilities, find out more about the Work Forwards programme or contact the team at [email protected].

Get support

Gillian on laptop

Work Forwards

Empowering people with cystic fibrosis to fulfill their career dreams and aspirations

Your donation will make a difference:

Select amount
Select amount