By Mike Hitch
Becoming a star at the age of 11 already carries obstacles and challenges in its own right – let alone becoming a child star who represents an entire community.
When the international box office success, School of Rock exploded onto cinema screens in 2003, audiences instantly fell in love with the sassy and charismatic character of Billy – who you may know better as ‘the gay kid.’
Portrayed as a fan of Liza Minelli, Billy’s originally nerdy character was re-written after 11-year-old Brian Falduto auditioned, turning him into a flamboyant aspiring stylist in contrast to Jack Black’s hair-flipping heterosexuality.
One problem though, Falduto was bullied as “the gay kid from School of Rock,” once the film came out since he was only “one of a handful of LGBTQ-referencing items in media’ at the time. After trying to re-invent and distance himself from his past for years, Brian has come full-circle, come out as gay to his family and is now re-kindling his passion for the arts.
Star Observer spoke to Falduto, who says that while he once desperately wanted distance from his gay-icon status, he now welcomes it with open arms.
“When I was younger, I just wanted nothing to do with it and I just felt this need to prove that I was more than just “the gay kid from School of Rock,” he said.
“But now it’s opened doors to opportunities like this where I get to share my story and hopefully connect with people who see or saw themselves in me.”
After graduating college, becoming a certified life coach and stepping outside of his narrative to help others, Falduto called upon his established acting skills to help him “know what to leave at the door.”
“As an actor, I have to be present and surrender myself to the circumstances of the scene, which can contain triggering material. I’m completely invested and there with my scene partner .. but I’m also doing my work as an actor and leaving certain things that aren’t going to serve the work at the door,” he said.
While Falduto has mastered the art of leaving troubles at the door – he’s now working on letting them in as well. After debuting his acoustic EP, ‘Love One Another’ which reached the top #100 in the US and UK within a week of release, Falduto discovered a passion for country music that sings to a gay soul.
Describing himself as a “#gaycountry artist,” Falduto’s first studio album “Stage Two” is out now featuring the lead single, “Rainy Day.” However, Falduto also hinted to Star Observer that he is currently in the process of putting together his first-ever music video for an upcoming single “God Loves Me Too.”
“Country music has little gay representation, but they have plenty of church songs, so I decided to write a song about my experience growing up gay in church. I don’t want to give away too much, but I think the message is strong and important,” he said.
“It’s already gathered some support from GLAAD and The Trevor Project; and the School of Rock team has resurfaced behind me to support this venture.
“I do have a bit of an agenda as far as my artistry goes and it’s to continue loving myself and sharing my story and helping others do the same; mainly just by leading by example and doing so as authentically as I know how to.”
If you’re interested in what’s up and coming for Falduto and his music after ‘School of Rock’, then feel free to follow his new account on Instagram! @thegaylifecoach.