PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — It’s a film that’s called both heartbreaking and hopeful.
Let Me Be Me is the true story of a man from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania who found a way to communicate with autism through fashion.
Kyle Westphal says: “Everyone is on their own journey. I just want to be me.”
And that’s how he lives. He has dreamed up a career and a life of his own design.
Westphal hopes his story of living with autism will bring you hope and a little magic.
Action News’ Alicia Vitarelli met the aspiring fashion designer where it all began – in the design studio at his alma mater, Drexel University.
“This is where dreams are made and this is where they are born,” he says while reminiscing about his old workspaces.
As a child, Westphal was mostly nonverbal and kept to himself.
His family says autism in the 1990s meant living in an institution. But the Westphalians went a different way.
In their documentary, we see the programs and meet the people who help Westphal find his voice.
“The six-year-old Westphal was in my own little world,” says Westphal. “I used blankets as a shield and sanctuary.”
Later, this stuff that he used to hide became a way of showing himself.
He learned that in his favorite Disney movie, Cinderella.
“I wanted to be the fairy godmother with a magic wand and make people feel special,” says Westphal. “Later, as a teenager and as a young adult, that’s what led me to fashion.”
From sketching and fashion shows in his backyard, Westphal then honed his art at Drexel.
“I used to be here maybe 10, 15 hours a day,” he says as he walks through the design rooms.
Westphal and his family are now working on his own collection and have brought their story to the big screen to inspire everyone to find their own magic.
“Let me be me, that’s the whole story,” says Westphal. “Imperfection is perfect.”
“Let Me Be Me” is now streaming. Click here to find out more.
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https://6abc.com/let-me-be-film-2022-kyle-westphal-designer-streaming/12128026/ ‘Let Me Be Me’: Drexel University grad and fashion designer’s journey with autism becomes film | Meet Kyle Westphal