Steven Brandon is like many 34 year old men. He likes meeting new people, going out to the movies, skiing, swimming and horseback riding. He especially likes to eat which he calls his “specialty”. But unlike many people his age, Steven has had to face incredible odds during his life living with Down ’s syndrome. The most fascinating part of Steven’s story is that he recently got the opportunity to star in the leading role of a feature film.
The film My Feral Heart is a British drama, but the film is not about learning disabilities. It is the story of an independent young man with Down’s syndrome that stumbles upon a wild and unique life-altering friendship. Steven got the chance to star in this heartwarming film when he met director Jane Gull at a theater company in 2014. She cast him as the lead character Luke, who is described as a cheery man in his thirties who cares for his elderly mother.
The movie took four weeks to shoot and Steven spent 12 hours a day working on the film. For the past few months he has been on the road in the US at various festivals to promote My Feral Heart. This film is Steven’s acting debut but he has said that he always wanted to act. “I used to do ballet but I was so little that I got stage fright” he said in a recent interview. “I got into acting because I thought it was all right for me to do that, and I wasn’t embarrassed at all so I got into the work.”
Steven said that his experience making the film and the chance he got to play the lead was amazing and that it has helped his confidence to grow tremendously. His dad said that he had matured during the time he spent working on the film and his mum is very proud of him, as is the rest of his family.
Steven Brandon is very talented despite his Down’s syndrome. Many people with the disorder are not as lucky as he is. Recent reports show that one in three people with learning disabilities are often stuck at home on the weekends and are unable to take part in social activities. One-third of those individuals are worried that other people may laugh at them or that they may be bullied.
“The best way we can tackle this is to increase opportunities for people with a learning disability to get out and interact with their local community, showing their talents and personalities that are too often shut away.” Said the chief executive of Mencap, Jan Tregelles in a recent interview.
Steven’s co-workers on the film describe him as being funny and someone who loves to be in front of the camera. He had an awesome experience traveling to all the film festivals and would play up to the festival crowds. He really enjoyed the attention that he received. In Fargo, North Dakota, Steven stood up on his seat in front of the audience at a screening for My Feral Heart to hail a crowd that had been applauding the organist from the prior film. “We walked up on the stage after the film for Q&A and I did the same thing again.” He stated proudly.
Steven is now committed to his new career as an actor and he is looking forward to being a positive role model for other people with learning disabilities. He wants them to know that they do not have to be afraid and they can get out, meet new people and share their talents with the world. When asked about how it feels to be recognized by others, he says that it is fantastic and says that his friends ask him for his autograph.
The road to stardom has been an incredible journey not only for Steven but also for his parents as well. They have supported Steven from the very start and traveled with him across the world to help him promote his film. His father recalls that soon after Steven was born he and his wife were told that their son would not amount to anything. They weren’t even sure if Steven would be able to talk or not. It is safe to say that Steven has surprised his earliest critics and has far surpassed their expectations of how his life was going to turn out. My Feral Heart was released in the US on March 19, 2016. Be sure to check it out when you want an uplifting movie to watch.