“I’m a work in progress.” Choice words from Mark Consuelos, a self-described small-town guy at heart, who’s drive and talent has earned him the American dream.
Married for 27 years to actress and TV host Kelly Ripa, together they present the hugely popular syndicated morning show Live with Kelly and Mark, radiating a chemistry that is fun, dynamic, and authentic.
Parents to three children, they seem to have cracked it — finding the perfect balance between personal and professional success. With old school values and principles as their hub, they encapsulate what it means to be a modern day power couple (and they’re also extremely nice!).
Born in Spain, of Mexican Italian heritage of which he is enormously proud, Mark was raised in Lebanon, a small town outside of St Louis, Illinois, in what he remembers as an idyllic childhood. As an 11-year-old, following an outing with his father to see the multi Oscar-winning movie Kramer vs. Kramer, Mark’s fascination for the cityscapes of New York was born, and enthralled by the acting talents of Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, his desire to become an actor was seeded.
Mark earned his acting chops on the daytime television soap All My Children — where he met and co-starred with his future wife Kelly. He went on to rack-up a multitude of credits in film and TV, including in the police procedural Law & Order and the CW drama Riverdale. He has also added writing and producing to his professional bow. And, along with his wife, the pair are proud and passionate part-owners of Italian soccer team Campobasso FC, who play in Serie D, the fourth tier of the football-mad country’s professional leagues. He’s also crazy about Formula 1 racing, enjoying the sport’s emergence in the USA. And he even became a bona fide ordained minister to oversee the nuptials of his pals Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky in 2008.
But it’s as one half of the Live with Kelly and Mark presenting team that he’s now best known, permanently joining his wife as her co-host in April, replacing Ryan Seacrest. Fans of the ABC morning talk show, which has been running since the 1980s, love the pair’s natural bond and rapport. Almost three decades after they played a loved-up couple in All My Children in 1995, and married for real a year later, they now get to showcase their enduringly healthy real-life relationship on live TV. So what is the secret to their robust union?
“She definitely challenges me in the best possible ways,” says Mark. “I’m just crazy about her when I look at her. Something happens. That was the initial thing — I can’t not be with this person.
“The word allegiance is probably not a strong enough word — but I know she has my back, and I hope she knows I have her’s. And I love the fact that as we go on, especially as it’s been 27 years now, the chapters in the book of our love story are just so different. Every chapter is so unique — and we have so many great memories.
“Find someone that you enjoy walking on the beach with, talking about the future, about what you want. We did that when we were 24 years old, and we still do it now. Like, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do this?’ I never want to stop doing that, dreaming about what we could do. Now there’s talk about grandchildren, and we’re designing things around that — we want to be the magnets, we want to be the favorite grandparents. So we’re building the magnets so they have to come to us.
“It’s those kinds of conversations that really tie us together. Even though I know I’m highly annoying and she is extremely patient. I would say that’s definitely a big factor in our relationship — her patience.”
Spending the day with Mark was time well spent. Genuine, humble and grateful for his lot in life, he is the real deal. Committed to fundamental principles, an engaged and very proud dad, he’s a natural enthusiast, focussed, eager to keep moving forward — propelled and supported by the grace, character and courage of his wife.
Here we discuss life, lessons, claustrophobia, and football as Mark becomes the latest subject of our Who the F*** Are You? profile. It was an absolute pleasure to photograph and speak with Mark, and I hope you also enjoy our conversation.
Who the f*** are you?
Oh gosh, that’s a great question! I’d start with a work in progress. I identify strongly as a father and a husband — those two titles take a lot of my energy. Very voluntarily, I love being both those things.
I’m someone who really enjoys a challenge. Solving a puzzle. If there’s a leak in the roof, I love that. If something’s not working, I love to devise why. I have no engineering background at all, but I want to know what that is. I love architecture and design.
But I am someone who makes a tremendous amount of mistakes still. I’ve been given the gift of learning how to — on a daily basis — correct those things, which has changed my life tremendously.
I’m working on it — I’m still working on it.
How are you feeling right now?
I feel great. I feel stable. Stable, content, serene. I feel grateful. I had a lot of fun today. Obviously, you worry about the world — but I feel good.
Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I bounced around a lot early on. I was born in Spain, was there for about a month and then I moved to Sardinia, then to Puglia in Italy, then to Kansas City for about a year, and then to a small town in southern Illinois from first grade until my sophomore year in high school. I had a good ten years there, that’s where I grew up — in this small town, of about 3,200 people, near St Louis.
My house was on the last street in the city limits. We were surrounded by soya bean fields — an idyllic childhood. No one looked like us in Illinois. I didn’t know any other Mexican or Italian families so we stood out. But I really loved it. It’s the kind of place where, during the summer, you leave your house at 8am and come back at 8pm and your parents didn’t worry about you.
Great education, great memories. I’m glad I grew up in a small town. I’m really a small-town guy at heart.
What excites you?
Over the summer, we were lucky enough to spend some time near the ocean. And at 6pm the sun sets, and I would go for a swim with my family, and anybody that wants to come along. I’m there every night, without fail, to do a sunset swim. We’d jump in the salt water and watch that sun go down. I love being with my family.
I love Formula 1 — that really excites me. And I love watching my soccer team. We were able to buy a piece of a soccer team in Italy. I love Sundays and the anticipation of watching a match. And by the way, it’s the only football I watch. I don’t watch the Premier League. I watch 4th Division Italian football. It’s fantastic.
What scares you?
The usual stuff as a father — like what world are we leaving our kids and their kids — that stuff occupies a lot of my mind.
I’m claustrophobic. I found out when I was about 38 years old. I went scuba diving and I had a panic attack 30 or 40 feet down. That was weird. Then when I started going into elevators, I started feeling the same sensation. And I started getting it on plane journeys — I’d flown all my life and then it kicked in. Some pathway was connected that I never knew was there. Maybe it’s always been there? I just didn’t understand the anxiety. So tight spaces. We have an elevator in our townhouse and I have a little stash where I keep some anti-anxiety medication just in case I get stuck. I haven’t been stuck yet, but people have been stuck in that elevator.
What is your proudest achievement?
I would have to say my marriage and my kids. Those things I’m extremely proud of.
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Understanding — no not understanding — accepting that I’m not in control. I get it, but I challenge it daily. Then I realize that I can’t control that person, I can’t control the weather, I can’t control this. I’m just gonna have to figure it out, accept it.
Who was your greatest mentor and what did they teach you?
Easy. My father. Not so much by what he said, but just by watching him. He taught me how to be a man. The way he worked, and then after work would get his degrees. His education was always a big part [of his life] but he never talked about it. He just did it. He taught me about being on time or being early. Early is on time — on time is late. He taught me that reputation is something you earn, both good and bad. He taught me the importance of family. He taught me that to be a man and to apologize is one and the same. He would apologize to me. I learned that lesson early on.
Who are your fictional and real-life heroes?
I don’t really have any fictional heroes. I’ve never really thought about that. Real-life — because I’ve lived with this person for the past 27 years — I would have to say my wife. The bravest, fiercest, most loyal person with the utmost integrity — just knows the difference between right and wrong. She is my moral compass when it comes to life. She’s a woman of her word. I’ve seen her face immense challenges and succeed. I’ve seen her walk into things that I know she’s been extremely afraid of, and overcome it with grace. And she gave birth to our three children and carried them. She’s an amazing mother. Yeah, she’s my hero. The fact that I was able to marry someone like that! My dad did say, “Marry above your station.”
What is your favorite item of clothing in your wardrobe?
Right now, I have this pair of Maharishi streetwear pants — they’re beautiful with an embroidered dragon on the back on the calf.
What music did you listen to at age 13, and do you still love it now?
Aged 13, that was 1984. Prince, When Doves Cry. Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Van Halen, Jump. I love all that stuff.
What is the most inspiring book you have ever read?
I’m not a big reader and I don’t read that many self-help books. I read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle — be in the moment, that was very important. I read Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear. It was about a guy who used to run cross country, spent a season with the University of Colorado cross country team, and it was so inspiring because they’re the best. I’m not a runner, but I wanted to run after that.
What is a movie that left a lasting impression on you?
Kramer vs Kramer. My father took me to this movie. I was enchanted. I was a little 10 or 11-year-old kid and it depicted New York in the late 1970s. I was transfixed with this city. I didn’t know I’d be living here 20 years later, for the majority of my life now. I loved the relationship between Dustin Hoffman and his son. It was a beautiful movie and it was about a father who had to raise his son as the mother left. It was heartbreaking. That’s what made me want to be an actor, watching that film.
What is your favorite word or saying?
I like this quote from Craig Ferguson, “The three things you must always ask yourself before you say anything. One — Does this need to be said. Two — Does this need to be said by me? Three — Does this need to be said by me now?”
What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?
I have absolutely no idea what they’d say. Hopefully, I’d made amends by that time.
And finally, a quickfire five favorites…
1986 Defender 110. Green.
Campobasso FC — that’s our team.
Rigatoni bolognese, made by my mom. We haven’t had it in a long time. I’m gonna go and hit her up when I see her.
Oh gosh, I’m not very fussy… soap! Dove soap and maybe some Layright pomade
Styling by Tanya Ortega
Fashion Assistant Gabby Hannley
Grooming by Jason Murillo at Art Department
Shot on location at Neuehouse NY — Cinema Lounge
Special thanks to Nell Skoda, Rae Belnavis