DENVER — "Wonder" may be a hit in theaters, but it's real life for Michael Casey.
The fictional film chronicles a boy with Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare genetic syndrome that Casey shares in real life.
"For the most part, your face did not develop with the rest of your body," Casey explained.
He was born with a smaller airway, an underdeveloped jaw, no cheekbones, and only part of one ear.
"I’ve had over 30 surgeries," the 17-year-old told Denver7's Jason Gruenauer.
He's undergone that physical pain and has lived through bullying in school because he looks different. But intellectually, he's just as smart as any other kid.
"There's no mental deficit that you can notice by looking at someone," he said. "Don't judge a book by its cover."
Michael plays five different instruments including the cello, guitar, piano, and more. He speaks Japanese, Spanish, sign language, and is learning German.
He spends weekends playing the cello on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall or Denver's 16th Street Mall.
After going through so much at a young age, Casey says he is just a normal kid.
"There are different perspectives of normal, but the way I see normal to me is having a smile on my face," he said.
This summer, Michael will be traveling to dozens of libraries to give motivational speeches. He's also working on a website that is focused on spreading positive messages.
He plans on pursuing film and media in college in Texas next year.