You don’t just meet Filipe DeAndrade. You hear stories first. He’s one of those guys people rave about with wide-eyes. “Oh, you haven’t seen Filipe? He’s a live wire. He’s a character. He’s a mad man.” Then, as if summoned by hyperbole, a small, mustachioed Brazilian wearing a lip ring appears.
At least that’s how it went for me, at the Sun Valley Film Festival — judging the 2017 Nat Geo Wild to Inspire contest. DeAndrade won the award and the trip to Africa that goes with it in 2015, and was in Sun Valley to show footage from his new series, Untamed with Filipe DeAndrade. The show airs on Nat Geo Wild’s Youtube and Facebook platforms, showcasing a mix of animal encounters and DeAndrade’s on-camera riffing.
When you hear a dude hyped by so many people, it’s tempting to hold a grudge. “I’m a live wire too!” you think. Then you shake hands with DeAndrade and it all melts away. He’s affable as all hell, brimming with charisma, and — perhaps most importantly — seems deftly able to handle the spotlight once it shines on him. To spend any amount of time with the guy is to recognize a hungry, creative, talented artist who’s making the very most of his big break.
It helps that the show is good. So good that it’s easy to wonder if the 30-year-old is America’s answer to Steve Irwin.
“For the first time in my life, I’m doing what I’m meant to do,” DeAndrade told me in Sun Valley. “It’s.. you know… I think the biggest secret in life is when you find what you love to do and you would do it for free.”
We sat down to talk about his show and the joy of living big dreams.