Anyone who’s watched ABC’s “Ugly Betty” knows Mark Indelicato, even if they don’t know his name. He plays Betty’s precocious young nephew, Justin, as obsessed with high fashion as his aunt is indifferent to it.
It’s a far cry from how Justin was initially conceived. “Justin was supposed to be the kid you see in a lot of shows,” says Indelicato, now 14. “He was just supposed to be there and say something funny. I was surprised it arced so that he really matters, and I’m really happy the writers took my character seriously.”
One of those surprises was Justin’s reaction to an unexpected turn last season. “I liked when they made him the bad boy after his father died. It showed that I can do something different.”
That twist was a welcome change. “I wanted to be taken seriously. I don’t want to be just a comedy actor forever,” says Indelicato, who relates to some aspects of the character more than others. “Justin is an artist, as am I. We’re all outcasts. But I’m not super-fashion-obsessed, and it’s not as hard for me to make friends or be into what everyone else is into.”
Clothing may not be a major preoccupation for Indelicato, but that hasn’t stopped the young star from trying to get his own jeans line off the ground. “I want to help kids who can’t find jeans that fit,” he says. “I don’t want kids to either have to gain or lose weight to get into these.”
Recent breakthrough: “In the new season of ‘Ugly Betty,’ Justin finds that he’s more in touch with someone in school than he realizes.”
Role model: “I definitely say America Ferrera, just because she’s so successful at such a young age. She doesn’t take any day for granted, even though she is a celebrity.”
What’s next: “I’m working on a music demo right now, wanting to join every other kid that’s put out an album. Not super-Disney, but not so different that it’s not marketable. It’s pop with a twist.”