‘CHI-nanigans’ and the ‘perfect imperfections of youth’



An endearing new
Windy City-based
family web series
offers laughs and
lessons while
helping young people
build confidence

It’s hard not to fall in love with the kids in CHI-nanigans, a new Chicago-based family web series with ASL translation created by Harold Ramis Film School alum Jill Ross set to premiere August 4 on YouTube.

Focusing on ‘tween siblings Foster and Marie and their ensemble of friends in Chicago, the series “celebrates the perfect imperfection of youth,” says Ross, creator of the series and founder of Minor Major Entertainment.



CHI-nanigans is an extension of the Shenanigans series of chapter books that Ross began publishing in 2003. It contains humorous stories inspired by real incidence that she and her siblings and, later on, her children experienced. Along the way, it sneaks in a moral lesson or two.

Together, they underscore of Ross’ commitment to helping young people build confidence. “I want youth to see themselves reflected, validated, and accepted,” she says.

Kids are kids are kids
The show’s audition announcement requested that the young actors attend exactly as they are, freckles, braces, and all. Regardless of size, weight, or appearance, all were made to feel welcome. It also requested to see those living with alopecia and vitiligo.

“This is what I saw in my family and community,” Ross explains. “My dad was a stutterer, so I’m well aware that persons with different abilities are sometimes ostracized or mistreated, and I want to be part of the solution.”

Her preference to ASL translation was made possible with help from K. Crom. Saunders, Associate Professor of ASL Department at Columbia College Chicago. Saunders worked as a consultant on the series to ensure that translations are not only accurate, but also reflect the idioms and expressions used commonly in the deaf community.

This aspect of the series was also inspired by Ross’ personal experience.

“I have a cousin who was born deaf,” she explains. “As children, our interactions were minimal. Because of that, I knew that if I ever created televised content that it would include ASL translation so that hearing and the deaf, friends and families could sit and enjoy together.”

Free screening
Ross’ production company, Minor Major Entertainment, will hold a free screening and sneak-peek of CHI-nanigans, on Saturday, July 27th, from 1-3pm inside the Black Box Theater at Kennedy King College (740 West 63rd Street). For tickets and information, click here.

According to Ross, stories for season two of CHI-nanigans are already outlined and a feature film is in the works. To keep up with her and the kids, click here.

About Jill Ross
In 2017, after being accepted at the Harold Ramis Film School at the Second City, Chicago, Jill resigned from her 31-year career with United Airlines, to follow her passion. “It was the scariest thing I’ve done, but no doubt, the most fulfilling.”

Send your indie updates to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.com.