“New kid on the block” Donnie Wahlberg makes a visit to Bentley
March 8, 2012
By Alyson Bisceglia
“All I ever wanted was a few pats on the back from the kids in the neighborhood,” said Donnie Wahlberg, the 42-year-old singer, actor and film producer originally from Dorchester, Massachusetts.
Wahlberg spoke at a Bentley Executive Club (BEC) event last Wednesday night in LaCava’s Executive Dining Room. The event was moderated by Joseph Shaker, a member of BEC’s board of directors and personal friend of Wahlberg. The topic of discussion was “The Business of Entertainment” (officially, anyway). The actor spoke about a wide array of things outside of this topic, such as his early childhood, the founding of his band New Kids on the Block and his development over the years as a performer.
The event, which began at 6 p.m. with cocktails and dinner, featured various films and clips of Wahlberg’s career. The films were produced by Bentley seniors David Entin, James Ferguson and Lily Ann Montemayor, along with junior Nick Vasiliadis.
If members of the audience did not know much about Wahlberg’s past career, they definitely learned a lot after viewing the films. The actor has starred in a wide array of movies, including The Sixth Sense, Band of Brothers, Saw II, III and IV and Righteous Kill. He now stars in the CBS series Blue Bloods, where he had to be on set at 5 a.m. the next morning to continue filming.
Wahlberg actually started the boy band New Kids on the Block in 1984, which is where his life of stardom began. However, his roots reach much further back. The star grew up with eight siblings, including younger brother Mark Wahlberg, in the not-so-lavish town of Dorchester. He said his parents’ main concern was feeding their children, since they were not well off and his father was frequently unemployed or on strike. His parents divorced when Wahlberg was 12 years old.
He spoke about how he found refuge at the studio of music producer Maurice Starr, who helped him get New Kids on the Block off the ground. Wahlberg also spoke about his experience in the Roxbury school system, where he attended school during the forced bussing era. Despite this inner-city school district’s bad reputation, Wahlberg values the friendships he made there and how much he learned about different races of people. He felt like he belonged to the community, and it was this community that gave him the drive to reach his goals.
Those goals were quite simple, really: To reach his true potential and to win the admiration and approval of the people he grew up with. Wahlberg strives to follow the advice his father once gave him, which was not to change, even if he made it big. And as host Shaker expressed in the beginning of the interview, Wahlberg truly is someone who didn’t forget where he came from.
Another goal Wahlberg had in his career was to take part in the making of The Sixth Sense. After reading the script, he made a personal visit to the director, expressing his interest in the movie. When he was offered a chance to audition for the role of Vincent Grey, one of Dr. Crowe’s former patients in the movie, the goal of winning the part and becoming this character became the actor’s new mission. He lost close to 50 pounds in order to play the part of the 15 year old, and he did so free of charge. Proving to himself that he could master such a difficult role was enough payment for Wahlberg.
During the interview, the actor also expressed how he tries to give his fans as much attention as he possibly can, which sets him apart as a star. He allows himself to be relatively available through his Twitter account, and he makes an effort to “shake every hand and hug every fan” when he goes to events like this.
When questioned about business in the entertainment industry, Wahlberg explained that it has a lot to do with keeping up with and embracing the ever-changing technology that surrounds us. For example, when his band New Kids on the Block got together with the Backstreet Boys to go on a world tour, they created a website to advertise it, which Wahlberg says was a great idea because it really caught people’s attention.
Wahlberg struck a chord with the BEC audience with his down-to-earth personality and stories from his childhood. He also made a visible impression with his account of filming Band of Brothers, a 2001 World War II miniseries in which he portrayed American Second Lieutenant Carwood Lipton. Throughout the filming of the series, Wahlberg would speak with Lipton to better understand the events that took place, as well as how to most accurately represent the soldiers.
Wahlberg took his role in the movie very seriously, emphasizing his respect for those who serve. Being able to make Lipton and the other veterans from Easy Company proud with the movie was one of his biggest accomplishments, he said.
When asked about his plans for the future, Wahlberg said he plans to continue reaching new heights and “plowing through” more goals. So be on the lookout for this actor – he’s here to stay.