Breaking down barriers and living his silver screen dream, actor Evan Sneider is proof that talent conquers all.

The 31-year-old actor with Down syndrome stars in the film Girlfriend, which premiered at the TIFF this week.

Sneider shines in his first feature-length role as a man caught between the woman he longs for and her abusive ex-boyfriend. It’s a part that requires subtlety and sophistication and Sneider’s nuanced performance is a cornerstone for the entire film.

Boston-born Sneider has pursued acting for most of his life and has performed in more than 20 community theatre productions as well as having a small role in the short film The Replacement Child in 2007. He sees his role in Girlfriend as his big break into the career he’s dreamed of since childhood.

“I always wanted to be an actor — it truly has been my dream and passion to do stage work and films and I hope to continue to pursue an acting career,” Sneider said

Girlfriend is the feature-film directorial debut of Justin Lerner who also wrote and produced the film. Lerner says Sneider’s secret weapon as an actor is an innate ability to tap into direct personal emotions in scenes.

“The emotional connection makes you an actor and Evan has that. He felt everything as the character and actors take classes for years to get to that place,” Lerner said.

Sneider credits his work in Girlfriend to the friendship and support of Lerner and the entire cast and crew.

“I’m so glad to be working with such a wonderful cast and crew. They’ve all given me so much support and what they’ve done for me has really touched my heart. Being in this film is a really moving experience for me,” Sneider said.