Actors with Down syndrome on being leads in Hallmark's new movie: 'I got very emotional'

·3 min read

There’s a moment in Hallmark’s latest romance, “Color My World With Love,” that everyone could benefit from watching, particularly today.

It starts at a wedding dress boutique, where Kendall (the bride-to-be) has dragged her reluctant mother, Emma, to try on gowns. At first, all is as it should be when it comes to the wedding dress montage of any movie. Kendall is happy, thrilled to be on her way to getting married, and glowing as she tries on dresses. However, things go awry when Kendall picks out a white sweetheart neck with no sleeves.

Swiping Kendall’s selection from her hand, a saleswoman interjects, “This is pricy, and it needs to be ordered. It’ll take at least six months to make, maybe longer for a special size.”

It’s a heartbreaking interaction to watch, mainly because of the inference: Kendall is a woman with Down syndrome, and it’s clear the saleswoman has made the mistake of believing that she is incapable of being a bride. Off-screen, Kendall’s grandmother confronts the woman while Kendall vents her frustration to her mom. “She’s nasty,” Kendall says, adding that her fiancé Brad (a man who has Down syndrome) would hug her. “I don’t want to hug her.”

David Desanctis as Brad and Lily D. Moore as Kendall. (Luka Cyprian / Crown Media)
David Desanctis as Brad and Lily D. Moore as Kendall. (Luka Cyprian / Crown Media)

Still, once the saleswoman has returned from the grandmother’s dressing down, Kendall does hug her. “Maybe it’s not your fault. Maybe people are mean to you too,” she tells the saleswoman, who offers a heartfelt apology in return.

Like the movie, the scene is loaded with lessons. Still, the message that people with diversity are very much capable of love and understanding is the throughline of the Hallmark feature, which follows Emma as she comes to terms with the fact that her daughter Kendall, who has Down syndrome, is in love and wants to get married. Beyond being artistically inclined, Kendall is fiercely independent and feisty — a good match for her love interest David, who has a determined streak and a romantic side. He also has a great sense of humor; when he first meets Kendall's mother it's while wearing a "The Homie With The Extra Chromie" shirt.

Hallmark’s latest feature follows Kendall, a young artist with a feisty spirit, as she falls in love with a fellow student in a cooking class.  (Allister Foster / Crown Media)
Hallmark’s latest feature follows Kendall, a young artist with a feisty spirit, as she falls in love with a fellow student in a cooking class. (Allister Foster / Crown Media)

“People with disabilities have real feelings. We can fall in love and get married, just like typical people,” Lily D. Moore (the actor who plays Kendall in the new film) told TODAY in an interview.

“It’s about painting your own story, really,” added Moore’s co-star David DeSanctis (who plays her fiancé in the movie.)

In recent years, Moore and DeSanctis have shown just how much they are capable of. On top of her latest Hallmark feature, Moore starred alongside the cast of Netflix’s hit series “Never Have I Ever,” featured in Hulu’s “Single Drunk Female” and is gearing up to start college in the fall. DeSanctis has a lot on the horizon as well. Speaking to TODAY he revealed that beyond focusing on pursuing more challenging roles, he also has entertainment development on his mind.

The film also follows Kendall’s single mother, Emma (Erica Durance), who must come to terms with the fact that her little girl is a young woman and learn how to look beyond the shell to find the beauty inside. (Allister Foster / Crown Media)
The film also follows Kendall’s single mother, Emma (Erica Durance), who must come to terms with the fact that her little girl is a young woman and learn how to look beyond the shell to find the beauty inside. (Allister Foster / Crown Media)

“I kind of want to get myself a little bit out of my comfort zone from being an actor,” he told TODAY. “I am designing my own TV shows and I’m designing my own movies.”

In the process of learning to let go of her daughter Kendall, Emma also finds love in an unexpected place. (Allister Foster / Crown Media)
In the process of learning to let go of her daughter Kendall, Emma also finds love in an unexpected place. (Allister Foster / Crown Media)

For both actors, the chance to star as the leads in a romance genre has been both rewarding and emotional.

“I was over-excited I was over-pumped,” David recalled, noting that while this isn’t his first feature film, the experience of filming “Color My World With Love” was different. “I just felt comfortable and brave and free-spirited, for this one.”

“I believe everyone has an inner star,” actor Lily D. Moore told TODAY. “whether it is acting or science or reading or math or smiling. Once they find that, they can let it shine.” (Allister Foster / Crown Media)
“I believe everyone has an inner star,” actor Lily D. Moore told TODAY. “whether it is acting or science or reading or math or smiling. Once they find that, they can let it shine.” (Allister Foster / Crown Media)

“I cried,” Moore said. “And I got very emotional, just because I had never been the main character in a movie before. And this is my chance to be that, and so I was definitely overwhelmed with tears of joy, for sure,” she explained, adding that the news of her role in the movie was also big for her family. “They were beyond excited. Yeah, that their youngest kid really can be a star.”

"Color My World With Love" will debut on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries this Sunday, June 12 at 9 p.m. EST and PST.