His family has always been tight knit, but Mark Wahlberg says that doing their hit reality show, Wahlburgers, is making them even closer. The show, which follows his huge family’s Boston-based burger joint, started in 2014, and is now more popular than ever. It’s not just entertaining for audiences; it’s a business, and Mark explains that it’s really given everyone a sense of purpose — especially his beloved mother, Alma Wahlberg. “The show has given my mother her own identity, which I didn’t realize is so important to her,” the Transformers star told HollywoodLife in an EXCLUSIVE interview. You know, I had to kind of talk her into the show.
Mark’s sister, Debbie Wahlberg, tragically died at the age of 43 in 2003, after suffering a heart attack while in the hospital to remove kidney stones. Septic shock from the kidney infection also contributed to her death. Mark’s mother was still grieving the loss of her daughter years later, but the actor said heading the family business really helped her thrive. “You know, once my sister passed, it was very difficult for her,” he told us. The restaurant, it’s given her a fresh start and a new lease on life, so it’s made her happy.” And it’s made viewers happy, too. Alma is a fan favorite! “Now if there’s not enough of her on the show, I’ll hear about that,” Mark joked. “She’ll be like, ‘The show’s not working. This is not what the people want.’ I’m like, ‘Well maybe you’re in your own little world and maybe that’s not necessarily the case.’”
It’s not just the show that’s helping his family, but the business, too. Mark said he really had “no interest” in being on TV, but he knew it would help the restaurant chain. “The business has really brought us together,” Mark told us. “Donnie [Wahlberg, his brother and former NKOTB member] is taking more of a management position, which is great.”
Wahlburgers season 10 premieres May 15 at 9:00pm ET on A&E.