VMEN Fall/Winter 2019: JEFF WAHLBERG

Actor Jeff Wahlberg and his role in Dora and the City of Lost Gold

During his first few projects, actor Jeff Wahlberg was still working at a Florida car dealership while bouncing between Miami and Los Angeles. “I remember always having to go back to my day job after. It was a weird contrast,” the 23-year-old explains. “You spend these two months on top of the world, living your dream and then you go back to regular life.” His double life included booking feature films from behind his cubicle. After starring alongside James Franco in Don’t Come Back from the Moon (Wahlberg’s first feature film), Franco offered Wahlberg a part in his film Future World, a dystopian action flick. “I remember reading that email in my cubicle like, Oh my God, yes!”

The jarring dichotomy of the mundane and magical wasn’t the only driving force behind Wahlberg’s move to L.A. “I feel alive when acting,” he says. “It’s the only time that I feel like I have a clear idea of what I’m doing in life. But at the same time, I don’t have any idea what I’m doing; I’m kind of winging it.” Acting comes naturally to Wahlberg—unsurprisingly so, given that his uncle is Mark Wahlberg. “We are products of different environments and different generations, but he’s a Wahlberg and so am I. We all have corny jokes and we were all born in Boston.”

This summer marked Wahlberg’s first major role. He starred as Diego in Dora and the Lost City of Gold, the live-action adaptation of the beloved Nick Jr. franchise. It’s his first project of this scale, one he recently illustrated on Instagram, sharing posters for the film’s various international editions, spanning China, Brazil, Russia, and Latin America. Of acting, Wahlberg says that after each shoot, “I leave a different person. [During Dora], I remember feeling in touch with my inner child. When I left, I felt happy and grateful.” He certainly looked the part at the film’s world premiere in Los Angeles, where he was seen, radiant, sporting a perfectly disheveled Prada look with ease.

Now L.A.-based, and with the car dealership gig long gone, Wahlberg beams with relief: “Happiness is next and now.”

Jeff wears all clothing and accessories Gucci
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