When the The Story Of Us first aired, we wanted to sit down with one of its actors, 9-year-old Bryan Angelo Andres, who was part of our list of people with Down Syndrome we admire. To those unfamiliar with the ABS-CBN teleserye, Bryan played Darwin, the young brother with Down Syndrome to Kim Chiu’s character. But Bryan was a busy boy, and it was only recently that his dad was able to talk to us.
We were amazed by the fact that Bryan had no prior acting experience before this gig--and the fact he is just 9 years old! We wondered about the unique challenges that faced him and his parents. But from what his dad Eric told us in an email interview, it was an unforgettable experience that the whole family enjoyed.
It was Bryan’s desire to be an actor that made the process smoother. Eric said his son’s penchant for acting was developed upon seeing her ate, actress Sofia Andres, during tapings and shootings. His wife would often bring him along to visit Sofia, who has said in previous interviews that Bryan had always dreamed of being part of a primetime teleserye. Since taping would require a number of hours of waiting, Bryan kept himself amused by playing iPad games--and talking to people on the set.
It was during one of those taping visits, this time on the set of Forevermore, that Eric was approached. “It was a get-together, and the producer said that they would like to get Bryan to be Kim Chiu’s younger brother [in her teleserye].”
Eric was doubtful about the offer, but he was surprised when the production team called. The story conference of the teleserye was taking place, and they wanted Bryan to be part of it. With a confirmed offer, Eric was worried whether his son could deliver, notwithstanding the fact that he has special needs.
On the first day of shooting, Bryan was hesitant to wear face and body make-up but he eventually warmed up especially in his dad’s presence. Eric added that it also helped that the production people were very lenient with Bryan and were willing to adjust to accommodate the budding actor’s availability.
Eric became the de facto acting coach who prepared Bryan in his scenes. “As his dad, I know how to pacify him.” He said that “being gentle, diplomatic, and tactful” with Bryan was the effective approach to convince him to do certain scenes.
There was one particularly nerve-racking episode. Kim’s character was going to America, leaving her brother Darwin behind. That mean Bryan had to cry on cue, and Eric said he couldn’t be more proud of his son in that moment. After the take, the director told Eric, “Daddy, dramatic actor pala gusto ng anak mo.”
Through Bryan’s character in The Story Of Us was short-lived, he is slated to have another acting project soon. We do hope it is just the beginning. Bryan’s achievement brings awareness to Down Syndrome and serves as an inspiraiton to those who feel that being different is a hindrance to their dreams.