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).