By Gina Roberts-Grey
Actor Mark Deklin, 44, loves his job. But that wasn’t always the case for the Pittsburgh native. He collected entries on his resume like chess pieces in his early 20s. “I definitely had an eclectic start,” Deklin says.
A history and English buff, former Greenpeace worker, jazz pianist in Vienna, art/rare book dealer, scotch guru, wine aficionado and fight director who staged combat scenes for the theatre, Deklin is a jack-of-all-trades who took the scenic route through life while searching for a profession that tapped into his passion. While rehearsing for a play, Deklin finally had that “light bulb moment.”
“I realized what I wanted to do was always right there. I wanted to be an actor, and I’m so glad I figured that out,” he says.
His fans are glad, too. Deklin currently stars in ABC’s “GCB” alongside recent BELLAcover star Kristin Chenoweth. The show is about a mother of two and onetime high school “mean girl” who returns home to Dallas humbled after a scandalous divorce. It centers on her hopes of getting a second chance to win over her old classmates. Deklin, the only male series regular, stars as “Blake Reilly,” the secretly gay husband of one of the main characters.
He’s also a regular on “Hawaii Five-0” and “Hot In Cleveland.” In addition to his work on the small screen, Deklin has held starring roles on Broadway in “Sweet Smell of Success” alongside John Lithgow and “The Lion King” in which he played “Scar.”
But despite his impressive credits and captivating blue eyes, it’s Deklin’s genuine charm, grounded sense of self and downhearted nature that’s apparent as soon as he starts to speak.
It wasn’t easy to catch up with him amid all of his projects, but BELLA got him sitting still long enough to get his thoughts on fatherhood, beauty and why he decided to track down his birth mother.
Let’s give our readers a look at what makes you tick. How do you define beauty?
There are different types of beauty. There is beauty that makes you [feel] desire and that’s the joyful type of beauty. It could be a travel brochure that makes you want to be in a place. Then there’s an artistic type of beauty that makes you stop in your tracks … [like] a beautiful sunset that causes artistic arrest where all time stands still.
One thing I tell my almost-three-year-old daughter Kylie when she says, “I’m so pretty,” is that yes, she’s very pretty on the outside. But, like her mom, she’s pretty on the inside where it counts.
How do you maintain traditions in your family?
Before we had our daughter, my wife and I would eat standing at the kitchen counter. But once Kylie was born, we decided to make family meals a priority. We all try to sit down together and talk even though she’s young. Dinner is a big part of our day because it provides stability to everyone’s lives despite being so busy. It’s also a good learning experience because it helps my daughter learn how to behave at the table so when we take her out to eat she knows how to act.
Holiday traditions are interesting because I was raised Presbyterian and my wife is Jewish. But neither of us is religious, so we celebrate “Christma-kah.” But since I’m adopted and have a relationship with my biological mother, which adds a unique element. So there are a lot of negotiations that go on.
What prompted you to search for your biological mother?
I literally woke up one day and decided to try to find her, but the trigger was going to a psychic for fun at a street fair. During the reading, she shuddered and said I wasn’t born with this name. She told me I was named after a children’s book character. I asked my father and he told me the name I was given at birth was Christopher. A year later, I found my birth certificate and learned I was named Christopher Robbins.
If you had to do it all over again, would you search for your birth mom?
Definitely. It’s one of the most important things I have ever done. I was always a big fan of history so I felt like I had to know where I came from and where I sat in the larger context of the world.
It was never about feeling as if I didn’t belong or didn’t want to be where I was; I had a wonderful childhood and love my parents. I was a happy kid and young adult. It was more about being in my early 20s and soul searching. I wasn’t a kid and I wasn’t an adult, so I was really trying to figure out who I was.
Growing up, did you know you were adopted?
Yes, I always knew and my parents handled it so well. When I did decide to search for my biological mother, they were terrifically supportive and I made it very clear that they are my “real parents.” I wasn’t looking for different parents. They are the ones who went to my ball games, who sat up with me when I was sick and put Band-Aids on my knee. They love me; they raised me.
How has becoming a dad changed your perspective of parenthood?
Having a child is so much bigger than what you can define and it’s just so beautiful. It’s changed every aspect of the way I view the world. Being a dad has flipped my world upside down in best way possible. It’s changed how I see beauty and shifted my priorities. It’s easy to get caught up in being either selfish or selfless but it’s made me see that there’s a third option – enlightened self-interest. I always put my daughter’s needs ahead of my own but it’s not selfless because it’s what is best for her. And what’s best for my daughter is what’s best for me. Her joy is my joy, her pain is my pain, and I love that! My life has come full circle. I’m a lucky man.