If you didn't get a chance to see the faith-based, fact-inspired romantic drama I Still Believe during its COVID-19-shortened theatrical run, it's available today (Friday, March 27) on video-on-demand.
Click here to learn how to watch.
The film, produced/directed by the Erwin Brothers, stars KJ Apa (Riverdale) as young Christian singer Jeremy Camp, whose girlfriend, and later wife, Melissa (Britt Robertson), is dealing with severe health challenges. Camp has an inspiration for dealing with the situation -- the example of his parents (Gary Sinise, Shania Twain) raising his younger brother, Josh (Reuben Dodd), who, in real life, has Down Syndrome.
Here's the real Camp and Dodd discussing his part in the film:
To read my earlier review of the movie, click here, but here's the perspective of Dodd -- a native of Santa Monica, California -- on his part and what it all means.
Q: How did you get the role in I Still Believe?
I was invited to audition through my agent, Zuri Agency. My mom, dad and brother Callum helped me rehearse after I first memorized my lines and then acted the part. I met the casting director, Beverly Holloway, at the first audition and met the director, producers and writers at the second one. It was a really fun audition and I didn’t need the script because I’d already memorized my lines. When I walked out of the audition, I asked, “Can you tell me what I can improve on?” They just laughed.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the movie after the auditions! When we were on vacation with our friends, my agent called and said that I booked the job! I felt really surprised and I was rubbing my nose with excitement! I might be one of the only kids with CHARGE Syndrome who has acted in a big Hollywood movie. I made an announcement video to share and said, “You’re gonna see my huge, humongous face on the big screen.” That made people laugh.
And guess what? I say the first line in the movie. But you’ll have to watch the movie first to hear that line.
Q: Can you share any special experiences while filming?
I was thrilled to meet the cast and crew. I felt amazed when I saw KJ, Shania, Britt and Gary on set. They were very nice to me and I felt like they were my family. When I saw KJ, I was so excited and ran away and then I said “Hey KJ,” and he said “Hey bro!”, and we both laughed.
When I wrapped my scenes, I was given an honorary Oscar from the filmmakers. They were so kind and supportive. Everyone, including the background actors, cheered me on, and when the cheers went quiet, I said, “Hey guys, you’ve done very well, as well!” They all cheered again.
It made me feel very happy about myself. I felt really good about being in the movie and I want to continue my acting career.
Q: Did you get to meet your real-life counterpart?
I play the role of Josh Camp, Jeremy Camp’s younger brother, who has Down Syndrome. I was hoping I would get to meet Josh, but, unfortunately, I did not. In fact, I didn’t get to meet the real Jeremy and his [current] wife Adie until the red-carpet premiere. and then we hugged.
Q: What would you like people to learn from I Still Believe?
I would like people to learn that even though things get really tough, you can always keep going and keep believing.
I can relate to this message because I have CHARGE Syndrome, and my disabilities do not stop me from acting or doing things that I never thought I would be able to do. I am severely-profoundly deaf and have had 22 surgeries.
There is a scene in the movie where Gary Sinise’s character, Tom Camp, says that his life is not full in spite of the disappointments, but because of them. What he means is that his son Josh (my character) having disabilities has actually helped make his life even better.
So it’s a very important scene for me and for the message of hope in the movie.
Q: If people want to learn more about you, where should they go?
You can look at my IMDb page, which shows what I have accomplished in my acting career. Also, my Instagram account, where you can see photographs, stories about my life and projects that I’m working on. My mom wrote a blog when I was born, that focused on the challenges of my continued medical journey and going through 22 surgeries.
Image: Lionsgate Movies
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager and blog editor at Family Theater Productions.