Ken-Ton Native Premiers Inspirational Film in Hollywoodby by Linda Garrity
Kenmore native Brian Donovan believes, "It's not who you are when you're born. It's who you are when you live." The 1981 graduate of St. John the Baptist School in Kenmore moved to Hollywood to pursue an acting career in the early 1990's. Though far from his Ken-Ton home, he remained close to his family and friends, and particularly close to the memory of his deceased younger sister, Kelly, who was born with Down syndrome. The L.A. premier of his inspirational film "Kelly's Hollywood" about sibling love took place March and is currently on the festival circuit seeking distribution.
After graduating from John-Carroll University with a degree in business and a minor in communications, the then 23-year-old Donovan realized three things: he never wanted to wear a tie again, he wanted to work with kids, and he wanted to live as an actor. His lofty dreams were not that of the big house or fancy cars, but rather to pursue a career on the west coast. Donovan initially found work doing voice-overs for commercials and TV shows. He became the voice of Rock Lee in the Cartoon Network series, "Naruto," as well as doing voice-over work on Disney's "Jetix" and he has gone on to work for all the major networks, including ABC, CBS, NBC, HBO and FOX.
As Donovan began to experience success, he remained close with his family and friends, especially his sister, Kelly. He says, "Each year, I had Kelly come out and stay with me for two months, which was an amazing gift, but came with challenges and sacrifices. However, when I weigh everything against one another, I got so much out of those two months...it was so rewarding. It was the best two months of my year and made my life whole." About 15 years ago, Donovan began taping his time spent with his sister which eventually led to the creation of a film about her life, "Kelly's Hollywood."
"I didn't set out to make a documentary," explains Donovan, "I was just capturing moments of my sister's life. However, as the time passed, it started to really affect me and I thought about it more seriously." The film endeavors to explore the challenges people with disabilities face, combat the typical stereotypes, and celebrate the joys that he experienced with his sister. Kelly had a particular love of everything Hollywood and the movie culminates with her 'living her dream' and experiencing her own red-carpet event as a starlet in which she sang and danced in front of a live-audience.
Today, Donovan continues to work as an actor, director, and producer and over the past couple years he's taken on the new role as being a father. He and his wife have two sons under the age of two. Donovan jokes that he came to fatherhood late and he'll probably be changing diapers when he's fifty, when most of his friends are wrapping things up raising their kids. Donovan says he's at a very good place in life right now.
Looking back, Donovan reminisces that although growing-up he was "definitely 'that kid' with a lot of energy," whereas at school he always "towed the line" and for the most part flew under the radar. Though he's lived in L.A. for the past twenty-five years, his three closest friends remain his buddies from St. John's School. "When it comes down to it, everything we do takes courage; it all starts with courage. And for me those roots started at St. John's School. With positive energy and care, when opportunities arise that are tended to, things will grow and take-off. That's what I learned...it's 'my take' from my years of Catholic education at St. John's. Wonderful things can happen when you love and support one another."