Mark Consuelos didn’t set out to be an actor.
“It was all kind of by happenstance.”
The entertainer, talk show host, producer, father and philanthropist actually graduated from the University of South Florida in 1994 with a degree in marketing.
“I had just transferred from the University of Notre Dame to the University of South Florida and my dad said, ‘go get a business degree,’” said Consuelos. “I met with the counselor and said, ‘what’s the easiest track in business?’”
But when he found out a friend was taking an acting class off campus, he was intrigued.
“I thought it was hilarious that he was taking it,” said Consuelos. “It was outside of the university, like a local theater group, and he said you should just come with me and see if you like it. So, I went and fell in love.”
Consuelos came from an academic family with an older brother who became a doctor and a sister who became a lawyer, but he couldn’t picture himself working in such a traditional environment. He followed an unconventional path and, with hard work and support from his family, found success in the entertainment industry.
Now, he is working to push forward narratives that showcase Latino stories beyond stereotypical roles.
“I knew that I really didn’t want to wear a suit every day to work, that I wanted to kind of be in the circus, and acting seemed like the closest thing to it,” he said.
The Role That Started It All
Mark Andrew Consuelos was born in Zaragoza, Spain, on March 30, 1971 to an Italian mother, Camilla, and Mexican father, Saul. The family spent time in Italy, Lebanon, Illinois and Florida. Among his earliest acting credits is a production of Hello, Dolly! at the Looking Glass Playhouse in Illinois.
Consuelos said education was very important to his family, but they supported his choice to pursue acting professionally. “For me to tell them that I’m not going to use my degree but go into this crazy field that nobody in my family was in or knew anything about, other than going to the movies, they were so supportive,” he said. “They’re like, go for it.”
After catching the acting bug post-graduation, Consuelos got a headshot and an agent.
“I graduated college and my plan was to move to New York City to go study, like really formally study, acting,” he said. “I didn’t know why but Los Angeles definitely was not on my mind.”
Los Angeles was on his agent’s mind, however, and she submitted him for a role on the ABC soap opera, All My Children.
The show liked his audition tape and a couple weeks later, he was on a plane to New York to screen test for the job. “I flew to New York and I slept on my buddy’s couch, and I went in and got the job,” said Consuelos.
He joined the cast of All My Children in February 1995 as Mateo Santos, one of his best-known roles. He played Santos until 2002 and even returned to the role in 2010 for the 40th anniversary show.
In 1998 and 1999, Consuelos was awarded the American Latino Media Arts Award for “Outstanding Actor in a Daytime Soap Opera.”
The award-winning actor says he enjoyed the role and appreciated the depth head writer and show creator, Agnes Nixon, gave his character.
“Even with All My Children, I was part of a major storyline on daytime TV that centered around a Latino family from Texas,” said Consuelos. “It wasn’t like we were waiters or cops or drug dealers, or you know, whatever stereotypical roles that we as a community have been fighting against… I think [Nixon] was always on the forefront of telling these stories that truly represented what’s actually happening.”
Telling Latino Stories
While Consuelos says he’s seen changes in representation and diversity in entertainment since the start of his career, he admits the changes are not always easy to spot.
“I think sometimes it feels kind of glacial and there’s small changes,” he said. “I know for me personally, I’ve had a unique experience…I’ve played a senator, a doctor, a lawyer, the general manager of a professional baseball team; I’ve always had these very professional elevated roles that I’ve played.”
But even more than the roles he’s played, Consuelos sees himself making a difference in representation behind the scenes.
“I think the most effective I can be as a producer and a Latino is to find those stories and find those collaborations with other Latinos or with other showrunners that are supportive of our community,” he says. “I think it’s through really smart partnerships and collaborations with other people that are thinking about doing the same thing and have power, that we will get to that place.”
For example, Consuelos optioned a book called Mexican Gothic a few years ago. The story is a historical horror noir by Mexican-Canadian author, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and a New York Times bestseller.
The actors strike put the project on hold, but at press time as the strike nears its end, Consuelos said he is looking forward to getting it back on track. “We have it set up at Hulu,” he said. “I’m really excited about telling that story.”
A Family Affair
After All My Children, Consuelos went on to play Steve Velard in the 2006 movie, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, and landed more television roles on popular shows like Ugly Betty, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, American Horror Story: Asylum and Only Murders in the Building.
His breakout role on All My Children not only jumpstarted his career, but also led to a strong romantic relationship with wife, well-known television personality Kelly Ripa.
In 1995, he met Ripa on the soap opera set and the two eloped a year later. The couple shares three children together—Michael, Lola and Joaquin—and remains happily married to this day.
“We met each other on a soap and that’s how we spent the first seven years of our marriage,” said Consuelos. “On a soap together, with our storylines together, working 12-hour days and commuting with small children.”
The time the pair has spent working together and the bond they’ve built laid the groundwork for their current roles as co-hosts on Live! with Kelly & Mark.
On working with his wife, Consuelos says, “She’s the best in the business at what she does; she is so good and she makes it so easy for the person that she’s working with. It’s an absolute no-brainer.”
Consuelos has also had the opportunity work with another family member on screen: his son Michael.
On the CW drama Riverdale, Consuelos played Hiram Lodge, father to protagonist Veronica Lodge, from 2017 until the show’s end in 2023. The role earned him a Teen Choice Award for Choice TV Villain in 2018.
In a flashback episode, showrunners were looking for a high school version of Consuelos.
“I remember talking to Roberto [Aguirre-Sacasa], who created the show, and he said, ‘your son Michael looks so much like you, it’s a shame he doesn’t have a SAG card,’” Consuelos said. “I said, ‘you know, he does have one because he did some voiceover work as a little kid for some shows.’”
Michael Consuelos played young Hiram Lodge in the flashback episode and returned to the show alongside his father for an episode depicting Hiram Lodge’s origin story.
Being onscreen with his son was an unforgettable moment for Consuelos. “I have to tell you, I’m just so proud. We will always have that together; it will live on forever and his kids will be able to see it, which would be my grandchildren, and I don’t know—I think it’s just another blessing I am so grateful for.”
Consuelos has proudly used his platform to advocate for philanthropic causes, including support for the unhoused through the New York charity, the WIN (Women in Need) Foundation.
“The WIN Foundation was something that I was exposed to early on, gosh, almost close to 30 years ago, when I was on All My Children and someone in the cast was involved,” said Consuelos.
The foundation initially specialized in abuse recovery for women, but now offers programs of emotional empowerment for women around the world.
Consuelos fondly remembers bringing holiday gifts for the kids and connecting with the foundation through WIN’s chief executive officer, Christine Quinn.
“We got to do work with them, especially over the holidays. They were big fans of All My Children, and I remember one of the houses was not too far away from our studio on the Upper West Side,” said Consuelos. “It was a cause that Kelly and I found close to our hearts.”
In 2023, Consuelos was asked to be Grand Marshal in Los Angeles’ Mexican Independence Day Parade—something he considered a great honor.
“Man, what a gift it was,” he said. “I got to go to the Mexican consulate and meet all the people that were responsible for the parade. That was really great. And you know, in some way, I got to honor my father, who came to this country when he was a teenager from Mexico.”
Now, anchored back in New York with Live! with Kelly & Mark for the first time in roughly seven years, Consuelos is setting his sights on a new endeavor.
“Now that I’m here, I would love to do some theater,” he says. “It doesn’t have to be Broadway—I would just absolutely love to get back on stage.”
Consuelos has continued to forge his own path and hopes that other Latino entertainers will follow. He’s been successful in avoiding a conventional life and a job that required him to wear suit.
For the most part, anyway. “What’s ironic is that for the past 10 years, every role that I’ve landed, I’ve had to wear a suit every day,” laughs Consuelos.
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