The boy looked embarrassed but gathered all the courage he could muster. He rushed after him and said in desperation, “Sir, I have not eaten anything all day, could I possibly borrow some money? I will save all of the money I make polishing shoes this week, so I can return the money to you.”
Walt stopped and looked at the boy with his skinny body and ragged clothing and pulled out some change from his pocket before handing to him. The boy expressed his thanks, and then ran away.
Walt thought to himself, ‘Just another scammer on the street, I’ll never see that money again.’ After a day had passed Walt had all but forgotten their interaction, and the incident had faded from his mind.
Walt didn’t return to the station for several weeks, but when he was next there, before boarding his train he suddenly heard someone calling from afar.
“Sir, wait a minute please!”
The voice was coming from a thin, raggedy boy, as he ran to catch up with him. It turned out to be very same shoe shine boy from the other day, desperately attempting to return the money he had borrowed. Only then, did Walt remember that the boy had borrowed his money at all.
“I have been waiting to see you again at the station for quite a while. Finally, I have the chance to return the money I borrowed from you,” he said, gasping for breath.
Walt took the money from his small outstretched hand and was alarmed to suddenly see the true character of the boy. All of a sudden Walt was stuck by a radical idea. He realized that standing before him, this raggedy, unassuming, shoe shine boy, was the perfect person to play the main character in a script that he was writing.
As it turned out, Walt was actually a film director, who was at that time, attempting to cast the main role of his new movie. Although he had met no less than 100 children from all of the finest acting schools, he had yet to find one that felt quite right. However, something struck him, right there and then, that this boy might be just the right person for the job.
Walt gave the money back to the boy and said, “Take the money back. There is no need to return it to me, but make me one promise instead. Tomorrow, come to the city’s filming company offices and ask for me. I’ll have something much better waiting for you that will bring you great joy”. With that, Walt turned and left the station with a warm feeling inside and a skip in his step.
The next day, a security guard came and informed Walt that there was a group of children, dressed in ragged clothing, waiting for him outside. In astonishment, he went out to greet the shoe shine boy and ask him who the other children are. The boy ran up to him happily and said, “Sir, these children share the same plight as me, they too are orphaned and wandering the streets. They also want to find great joy.”
It was the last thing that Walt had expected and he was moved by the kindness and generosity of the boy. More convinced than ever of the strength of character he possessed, Walt hired him on the spot for the role of the main character in his movie. Exclaiming that, “owing to this boy’s kindness, he was chosen without going through casting or audition.”
The boy that Walt met at the station that day is called Vinícius de Oliveira. And the film he stared in went on to win more than 50 awards.
”I was looking for a boy who knew what the battle for survival was, but who had not lost his innocence in doing so,” Walt reputably shared.
In later life, Vinícius de Oliveira went on to establish a filming company of his own. He also wrote an autobiography titled “My Life of Acting”. On the cover of the book, he specifically noted: “Thanks to my kindness, I was exempt from casting.”
Underneath he wrote, “Out of my kindness, I save opportunities for others, but also for that reason, life treats me so well.”
The kindness of Vinícius de Oliveira brought him a great opportunity, that he grabbed with both hands and changed his life forever. Beyond his personal achievement, his acting has also moved millions of people, and perhaps inspired others to strive.