Mark LaBella, Actor/Producer/Writer is an alumni of the famous Second City, Chicago. A doctor, turned actor, he is best known for his roles on NCIS Los Angeles, Chicago Fire and Date Night Chicago.
He is a man of honor and holds value in the “American Dream”
Mark shares his thoughts on the things that have given his life meaning.
Mark LaBella recalls his very humble beginnings in the Philippines with no toys and no extras. He lived in a poor area and as a child with a great imagination found ways to bring light and laughter into his life with “Make Believe”. He gathered other kids together and put on shows and pageants. He and his cousins would celebrate life by dancing and singing and sharing it with those who would listen.
Eventually his Mother would move ahead to the U.S. to try and create a better life for the family. Mark tells of how his mother worked hard selling cigarettes and comic books to afford baby formula while going to nursing school. “This makes me so thankful”.
“I used to pray everyday that one day I would eat pizza and live in America, the place I called heaven.”
“At 9 years old I lived in California and life was new and exciting.” Mark immersed himself in American television shows and said he use to play with his Lego’s and pretend he was the director and writer and that the Lego people were the actors.
“In the 5th grade I was in a talent show as a background guy going oooh and ahhh in “The Circle of Life from the Lion King” and I was so nervous.”
Jr high graduation: academic and leadership award
Mark landed the lead role in another production in the 6th grade. He did not let any opportunity go by. In H.S. he was involved in sports, choir, acting, and the student council. Mark found all opportunities to be a gift.
When 911 happened it really affected Mark and he decided to join the military. “Patriotism is a big thing to me. I served 5 years in the Navy and became a medic for the Marines.”
Boot camp graduation
Color guard of naval school and health sciences San Diego
Awarded DOUBLE RED BADGE
(athletic petty officer and educational petty officer of corps school class)
Invited NAVY shipmates over for Thanksgiving dinner
“I decided to go to medical school and was top ten in my class. I am truly a nerd.”
“My parents encouraged reading and I would always wait for my mom to bring me a new book.” Mark educated himself on storytelling and so began the writing.”
“I went to Chicago to do my Preceptorship exams. I was a medical graduate studying for my U.S. Medical Licence exams. Things were not going well, someone stole my laptop and medical books from my gym locker and I was dealing with a breakup.”
“Chicago Fire was looking for real Doctor’s so I auditioned and they gave me a line in the show. I was hooked! I knew I loved acting. It all came back to me from being a kid and loving to perform.”
“Being creative brought me right out of the depression I was feeling. I auditioned for a top casting agent and landed a principle role on my next audition.”
“My parents did not know of any of this and I was suppose to be studying. The creative drive kept pushing me. I would sneak to LA for auditions.”
“My mother eventually saw me for the first time in the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Musical” and she loved it! I could see her emotions and new I had her support. This meant so much.”
“I love and appreciate that I get to do something that I love and get paid for it. I went to a program at the Writers Guild of America and I again am grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities I have.”
For Mark and his writing…. he says “we are moving into a world of diversity, a cultural shift in Hollywood and there is a call out for different voices and perspectives.”
He feels fortunate for his supportive family and “life is good” for Dr. Mark LaBella.
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