Extra Credits is series of portraits taken with people we like wearing clothes we like. Today: Jeffrey Wahlberg, the 22-year actor and model — who we coincidentally met while producing our March issue with a bromantic interview by his uncle Mark. The Cancer with a Leo moon is on a journey to superstardom. After acting in two films alongside James Franco, he is set to play Diego, Dora’s right hand man, in the upcoming live-action film Dora The Explorer. “I had the absolute time of my life making it,” he says about the adaptation of the beloved cartoon. “I can’t stress that enough.” We caught up with Wahlberg to discuss the film, his obsession with Donald Glover — “he’s a genius”— and following Marky Mark’s footsteps.
MACIAS: Do you follow astrology?
MACIAS: How much of a Cancer are you? Give me the full chart.
WAHLBERG: I started acting first. Actually, I just started modeling. I love fashion. I have tremendous respect for models and what they do. It’s not an easy job. That shit is scary. I think I’m a much better actor than I am a model, because modeling is very scary. I got discovered on Instagram. I needed money, so I was like, “Absolutely. I’d love to try it.” Plus, it was just something I was into. You get to travel. You get to meet all these other really interesting people.
MACIAS: Impossible not to bring up the obvious, right?
MACIAS: I think that would be super cool.
WAHLBERG: It would make sense for it to be the other way, but that wasn’t the case. I’ve been acting for much longer, but I’m just now starting to really get paid for it. I didn’t chase it professionally until after I graduated high school, because it was either college, or move to LA and do my thing. I chose the latter, obviously.
WAHLBERG: I’ve worked with James twice, actually. Don’t Come Back from the Moon, which I’m very fond of. It’s actually the first movie I ever did. We shot Future World after, but it’s just now coming out because — I don’t know, it’s an indie. Don’t Come Back from the Moon is James Franco, Rashida Jones, myself, and a couple other young, great actors.
MACIAS: What’s it like to work with James Franco on two, almost opposite, projects?
WALHBERG: Moon is actually based off a novel by the same name, by Dean Bakopoulos. It’s just basically about kids with Daddy issues trying to find love and dealing with massive resentment. Future World is a sci-fi—totally, completely different. I definitely spent way more time with James on Future World, because he co-directed it. He was just there every day. I would work with him much more directly, as supposed to Moon, where it was our first time meeting. James is still a mystery to me. I still feel like there’s a lot I don’t know about him.
WALHBERG: Of course, did you watch it? Dude, how old are you, if you don’t mind me asking?
MACIAS: I’m 26.
MACIAS: Yes, I’m Mexican.
MACIAS: When you found out you got the role of Diego, what went through your mind?
WAHLBERG: It happened so quickly. I found out I got it, and then within the next two days I was on a plane going halfway across the world. There was really no time to even think. I just had to go. We shot in Australia — they took me right to dance practice. Oh, shit. I shouldn’t say that. I don’t want to give away too much.
MACIAS: Dora is such a big part of everyone’s childhood.
MACIAS: What shows are you obsessed with right now?
WAHLBERG: My favorite show is probably Atlanta. I think the reason I love it so much is that I grew up in Miami, and I feel like Atlanta and Miami share a lot of similarities. They’re both in the South. They’re both mostly people of color. I just relate to Donald Glover’s character so much, and I know my two best friends definitely do. I have one best friend, and Atlanta is his life story — just a young black kick trying to make it and survive what is already an uphill battle. The show is hilarious and extremely entertaining. Donald Glover is a genius.
MACIAS: What’s next on your agenda?
WAHLBERG: Happiness is definitely in my future. It’s in my present right now, too. I’m very happy right now. My next project is a true story about an 18-year-old Colombian street artist from Miami named Israel Hernandez. He’s a real person but he passed away, unfortunately. He was beaten and tased to death by the Miami Beach Police Department. It’s a story that I hold really close to home because I grew up in Miami. I met his family not too long ago. It’s gonna be a lot of work, but I’m looking forward to it.