Spreading Hope with David DeSanctis
Playing the role of a person with Down syndrome would be challenging for any seasoned actor. Combine that with an actor who actually has Down syndrome and the task could be overwhelming. But for David DeSanctis the undertaking was more than just an acting job. He stars in the movie, Where Hope Grows, about a professional baseball player whose career is cut short. DeSanctis plays a grocery clerk who develops an unexpected friendship with the former athlete and they embark on a journey full of hope and redemption. Risen interviewed DeSanctis in 2015 and talked with him about honesty and integrity and why it is important as well as how his character’s personality affected him in real life.
DeSanctis shares with us why being honest is important to him even when it is difficult to do.
“I went through a phase when I was younger of trying to tell the truth and not lie and my older sister Sarah Marie DeSanctis, at first she believed in me one hundred percent, and then in middle school before she left to go off to college, I was living behind lies. So she didn’t believe me at all. And then I think I needed to learn to trust her again and put my trust in her for her to trust me and believe in me again. I needed to live behind the truth and not behind lies.”
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:29-32
DeSanctis opens up about how the character he plays in the movie who hugs everyone he meets affected him personally.
“According to character Calvin Campbell, the first hug Produce gave him he thought, ‘Why is he giving me a hug?’ Later he kind of half accepts this second hug. And then finally he goes in for a full-sized bear hug. I really cried in real life during the final hug scene and the reason I cried was because of what Calvin said to Katie [his on-screen daughter] outside of the hospital that was so moving to me. He loves her so much that he wanted to give everything to her.”
Share a hug. You don’t have to hug complete strangers, but take the opportunity to share a hug or a high five with your friends and family members. Scientific studies show that when you people hug, oxytocin is released, which calms the nervous system and boosts positive emotions. When we give, and receive, hugs we can lower blood pressure and lower cortisol, which will help us to be less anxious. Too often, we get caught up in the busyness of life. We rush from one meeting or appointment to the next activity. We forget to genuinely connect with others and show them how much they mean to us. Take time this week to give a hug, high five or kind word with a friend or family member.
Be honest. Being a person of integrity is an important character quality. Even if there are consequences to telling the truth, it is important to remember that your reputation and legacy in the long-run are more valuable than a short-term consequence. Take time this week to reflect on any past decisions or situations you have been in where you didn’t tell the truth or you avoided telling the whole truth, which is still telling a lie. If you need to confess or make the situation right, meet with the person and set the record straight. The longer you let the situation continue, the harder it will be to tell the truth. There might still be consequences to correcting the lie, but again remember that your character and integrity are more important in the long run.
Be a faithful friend. We have the opportunity to be friends with all different types of people. Whether it is a friend from a different background or ethnicity to those that have had different experiences, these friendships can be life-giving if we are open to them. Sometimes when someone is different than us, it can be a challenge to be friends with them at first. But be willing and open to friends that are different than you or your group of friends. Even if your group of friends isn’t open to accepting someone different from them, consider befriending that person on your own. Think back to people in your life that befriended you when you didn’t have a friend. We can learn a lot from others, their experiences and often they can enrich our life.
To read our entire interview with David DeSanctis, click here.
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