Currently he can be seen as Senator Jack Bowman with Kiefer Sutherland and Virginia Madsen in ABC’s political thriller Designated Survivor. Most recently he starred as Nicholas Deering opposite Ana Ortiz in the Lifetime comedy-drama Devious Maids, and recurred both as Joe Nazario opposite Drea de Matteo in the NBC police drama Shades Of Blue and as Agent Cameron Davies opposite Angie Harmon in TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles.
One Love, All Equal: Is there something that you can pinpoint as the main catalyst for becoming an actor?
Mark Deklin: I’ve always been a storyteller. I’ve held a lot of different jobs and pursued a lot of different interests in my life, but storytelling has always been a constant for me. History, literature, dreams, myths…it’s how we humans process the world. It’s how we make sense of things, how we form our memories and bind our culture. I suppose I could’ve made a living as a musician, or a writer, or a teacher — but whatever I ended up doing, it most certainly would’ve involved creativity and storytelling.
OLAE: Of the characters you have portrayed which was the most difficult to play?
MD: Every role has its particular challenges, but every role also brings with it a magic moment when everything clicks into place and you feel the character settle into your bones, no matter how foreign or distant he might’ve seemed when you first read the script. Suddenly you have your balance, and all uncertainties become moot. It really is magic, and it really is a specific moment. It’s that same moment of freedom you experienced when you rode your bike on your own for the first time, without training wheels and without your dad’s hand on the seat behind you, that moment when you physically felt your balance kick in. Some acting challenges are just that, physical — playing a blind character, a drunk character, a disabled character, a delirious character. Flying or falling or executing tricky and/or dangerous choreography. Other challenges are psychological — maybe something about the character is frightening or repulsive to you; maybe it taps into some very real part of yourself that frightens or repels you. But if you’re brave and capable and you allow yourself to enjoy the work, to enjoy the unfolding process, then it ends up being an incredible ride. Then all you have to do, as Cagney said, is hit your mark, look them in the eye and tell the truth.
OLAE: Why is it important for you to lend your support to the LGBT community?
MD: It’s important because we’re all human. We’re all connected. Julian Bond said it perfectly: “The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.” As a father, I want my kids to grow up in a better world than the one I grew up in. Every parent wants that — or they should, anyway. When I was a kid, we couldn’t have even grasped the concept of someone being “out,” because all the kids who were “different” were very much “in.” They were terrified of being discovered. Terrified, when they should’ve been celebrating. What a tragedy. And if, one day, my own son turns out to be gay, or my own daughter turns out to be a lesbian, will I want him or her to feel cowed and frightened? To hide in some closet? To hide his or her light from the world? Are you fucking kidding? Absolutely, unequivocally not. I want my kids to shine. Always. I want them to feel proud of who they are. Always. Why on earth would I ever want to teach them shame? Humility, a conscience and a moral compass, yes. But never shame.
OLAE: Is there an instance that spurred you to into action for the LGBT cause?
MD: Not a specific instance, but even as a kid, I always had a hair-trigger sensitivity to any kind of unfairness and injustice. I used to pick fights with bullies all the time because I couldn’t stand to see someone smaller or weaker being picked on. I spent a lot of time in the principal’s office for that. As an adult, I still have a visceral intolerance for bullying in any form. And as an adult, I happen to have a ton of dear, dear friends in the LGBT community. And I would pick a fight with a bully for any one of them, too (if they needed me to, that is – most of them would do just fine without my help).
Another thing from my childhood – I remember the moment when I realized that, despite what society might say to the contrary, LGBT people were cool with me. I’d overheard some adults talking about how “wrong” it would be for a gay couple to adopt. “The poor child,” I remember one of them saying. And that really struck me, because I’m adopted, and I’ve always felt that I was very fortunate to be adopted and raised by my loving, wonderful family. And I remember suddenly thinking, “Wait a minute. You’re trying to tell me that a kid would be better off in an orphanage — would be happier in an orphanage — than in a loving home with two moms or two dads? Really?? Bullshit.”
OLAE: Why do you think it is important for celebs/well-known people to use their platforms to speak to equality, and acceptance, and tolerance?
MD: If you’ve been given a public voice of any kind, you have a responsibility to use that voice in the service of what’s right. Period. It’s not something you can shirk and it’s not a convenient PR opportunity. Not if you’re a real human being. It’s a Responsibility. Capital R. You don’t feel like being a role model? Fuck you, then don’t be a public figure. But if you are a public figure, then someone is looking to you as a role model, whether you want them to or not. Someone is listening to you. So be worthy of that.
OLAE: What is your opinion of the stereotype that if you support the LGBT community you are considered gay?
MD: It’s ridiculous. And who cares? Bigots will think what bigots think. Fuck them and their tiny, little minds.
OLAE: What advice would you give to someone who wants to support the LGBT community?
MD: I don’t know that I have any actual advice. Just be brave and do it. Do what your conscience tells you is right. Use your talents, whatever they may be, in the service of something bigger than yourself.
OLAE: Have you ever witnessed someone being homophobic or transphobic, and how did you respond?
MD: Fortunately, I don’t spend much time with bigots, so it’s not something I have to deal with very often. But not too long ago I was at a party and someone make a passing homophobic joke. So I decided to leave. Immediately. And I made sure that everyone there knew exactly why I was leaving. I thanked my host but said that I just didn’t have it in me to quietly finish my drink in the company of a bigot and pretend that nothing was wrong. The homophobe became embarrassed and apologetic and tried to take back what he’d said; the atmosphere became very awkward and uncomfortable, and I’m sure there were people there who thought I was an asshole for throwing a wet blanket over the whole party. But I had to. And as I was walking to my car, several people came out to thank me for voicing what they were feeling, too.
OLAE: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to speak with us Mark.
MD: It was my pleasure. Thanks for your work.
Follow Mark Deklin on twitter.