Sr Rose: What was your response to being tapped to be the MC for the CIMA awards?
Mark Derwin: This is quite an honor. I have never done anything like this and it is very nice to be thought of for an event like this. I think of myself as a working actor and this kind of thing seems to be for someone else.
SR: Tell us about your family.
MD: I am an actor from an Irish Catholic family. I grew up about an hour north of New York City. My parents are from Roscommon and Westmead, Ireland. I grew up with a brother and sister. We lost my brother in 1994; he was my best friend. It was devastating for all of us and is something I will never get over.
My family always went to church. To be honest, sometimes I went just to meet a girl and one time it took me two years to get up the courage to ask out one girl I had met at church!
SR: What about your faith? What does going to church mean to you?
MD: The spirituality I have from going to church, to Mass, gives my life balance. I feel like a better man when I leave. And I don’t always leave feeling “in a great place” spiritually. But I leave knowing I have given back a little to God; an hour a week is not a lot to ask for all that God has given me.
SR: How do you keep your “center” in this business?
MD: You have to take your ego out of it and get into the business of acting for the right reason. I just want to work. Celebrity has never been my way. And I have plenty of reasons to be grateful and humble.
My dad was ill for most of my life and mom did most of our raising. I was not a good student. I eked by in high school. I was not emotionally prepared for college and got kicked out
I worked hard as a carpenter for eight years. It was a difficult time. I knew there was more to life but didn’t know what it was or what I really wanted to do. I came to Los Angeles in 1987 and fell into this business by chance. I didn’t know anyone so I listened and paid attention.
I have never forgotten the ditches I dug or the houses I built. Every time I walk into a store I thank God that I am able to buy this food.
Any rewards from acting have been great but I take it with a grain of salt. I had plenty of years of not having money and I was always careful. The thing is, for me, to stay humble I remember my roots, and what’s important in life.
Actors often have trouble finding their center. But we are all blessed to be able to do any work in this business. Anyone can get a job, let’s see if you can get a second job; this is where acting is a challenge. Reputation is a lot in this business and being dependable and hardworking is important. But no business gives people more second changes than Hollywood, except the Catholic Church that is very forgiving….
SR: I remember you from Life with Bonnie…
MD: Bonnie Hunt is a very centered woman. She and co-star Marianne Muellerleile are still friends and pretty well grounded friends, too.
SR: How are things with The Secret Life of the American Teenager?
MD: At first we wondered: is this an ABC Family show? And as the show progressed we realized that “Yes, it is.” Every episode ends with a poignant moment, sometimes the situation is difficult but the show leaves you wanting more. On the show we have discussed the unwed teen character’s Amy Juergens (Shailene Woodley) her baby, adoption, what’s the impact on the audience, or the audience response to the dilemmas. Brenda Hampton (the creator of 7th Heaven, too), is so aware of the different opinions about the storylines and how the story will be perceived. My character of the dad, George Juergens, well, I am having the most fun as an actor because I am unfiltered; I get to play against type because this guy makes big mistakes. He lies and cheats on his wife. But they let me bring in some comedy and quirkiness to my role. I think the show is wonderful. It seems controversial because it deals with teens and sex, and the consequences, but this is the way life is, the way things are. Positive things can come out of a challenging storyline like this. People write and tell us how much they love it
Even though the subject matter is tough, it tries to convey the realistic message that being smart about sex, abstaining from sex is important. Characters very fleshed out. Yes, there are different views. I love this job and I am excited to be on this show even though it may be perceived as challenging or controversial. The Secret Life of the American Teenager stirs up important conversations between kids and their parents and this is a very good thing. If through the story we can convince even one teen from making a mistake then this makes it worth it. On the show, we think we do influence young men and women in a positive way. Brenda Hampton has three adopted children, and adopted pets, and she cares about her family and her extended family, us. I am so impressed by her writing, especially her overall awareness of where the story and consequences are going; how the show is perceived by her audience and how the characters move forward. The show is entertaining and thoughtful and it is an honor to be part of it.