If you were asked 20 years ago whether New Kids on the Block would still be performing or better yet whether Donnie Wahlberg
was a solid working actor odds are you would have laughed. Last night I
was able to attend a function at Bentley University in Waltham where
Donnie Wahlberg was asked to discuss his take on “The Business of Entertainment“.
For those that may not be up to speed Donnie Wahlberg is from
Dorchester, Massachusetts where he started out in the entertainment
world as a member of the band New Kids on the Block who were quite
popular in the 1980′s and 1990′s but have got back together in 2008 and
have toured with the Back Street Boys. You would think that that was
interesting enough but throughout the years he has also been a steady
actor most recently on the series Blue Bloods which is still running on CBS.
Wahlberg’s segment of the evening started out with a video review of
some of his work on his video work. Many of us including my husband
were surprised he was in so many different movies over the last 15+
years. He has had a few stand out rolls that though small really stood
out like in the Sixth Sense, Band of Brothers and Ransom.
Wahlberg came across as a very humble, hard working normal guy who at
42 years of age has learned many lessons from the ups and downs of his
careers in the entertainment industry.
Wahlberg came from a tough background growing up in a big family (9
kids) in Dorchester. His parents were hard working blue collar folks
that unfortunately divorced in 1982. He discussed the lasting impact of
his mother Alma on his life and how she reacted when he first told her
of his “band”. He said “That she looked at him as though he had already
sold 20 million records”. His father also supported him though he told
him to make sure to “never forget where you came from”.
Wahlberg also discussed how bussing impacted his life for the better.
Having been through the same thing since I grew up in Boston at the
same time I have to agree. He spent a lot of time in Roxbury hanging
out with producer Maurice Starr as they worked toward getting New Kids on the Block
up and running. A white kid from Dorchester would not have been in
Roxbury in those days unless he was bussed there. As a hispanic kid
from the South End of Boston would not be in the North End of Boston
learning Italian as was the case for me.
I have to say when it came to his brother Mark Wahlberg‘s early success I had not remembered that Donnie had written songs for him, never mind that he wrote and produced the hit “Good Vibrations” for him. I admit it the beat was too contagious to ignore. The conversation turned to New Kids on the Block
where Wahlberg discussed the comeback that started back in 2008.
Though he confessed he is not much of a techie he discussed how getting
a video about the comeback on YouTube produced a huge amount of
momentum that can not be duplicated by posting posters by hand like in
the old days. In this segment he mentioned that continued success in
the entertainment industry is about “putting in the time to learn at the
beginning and being open to continuing to learn in an industry that is
constantly changing”. The reunion has been good for other band members
as well including Joey McIntyre and Jordan Knight who continue to pursue singing careers.
I think many in the audience were surprised by how personable Donnie
Wahlberg is and many left feeling more motivated about life and how hard
work and perseverence pay off. I am sure many in the crowd are going
to be checking out “Blue Bloods” this week(airs Friday at 10pm on CBS.).
Here is a clip of Donnie on his current series Blue Bloods where as he says he is priveledged to be working across the table from Magnum PI(Tom Selleck) and Bridget Moynahan(another person raised in Massachusetts).