Mark Indelicato in Ugly Betty
(© ABC)
Mark Indelicato in Ugly Betty
(© ABC)
Despite the large number of theater-trained actors on television, the small screen rarely encompasses the Great White Way in its storylines. One exception is ABC's Ugly Betty, which last season sent some of its main characters to a performance of Wicked. On Thursday, October 23, the show -- which is set in New York (and now filmed here as well) -- will highlight a storyline in which theater-loving Justin Suarez, played by 14-year-old Mark Indelicato, auditions for Broadway's newest smash hit Billy Elliot. Indelicato recently spoke to TheaterMania about this special episode, working with Vanessa Williams and Lindsay Lohan, and his own plans for appearing on Broadway.

THEATERMANIA: So, Mark, did you get to see Billy Elliot before filming the episode?
MARK INDELICATO: I didn't, but I'm dying to go see it. I've heard those kids are ridiculously talented.

TM: So without giving away everything, what happens on the episode?
MI: The main idea is Justin goes to an open audition call for the Broadway show. Of course, the character of Billy doesn't look anything like me; he's a blue-eyed, blonde British boy, and I play a Mexican kid. And it's not a realistic audition. You don't see Justin singing; there are a few dance steps I do from the show that are made to look very Justin-like. We added snaps and jumps and facial expressions. And, yes, Justin shows up in a full-out dance outfit. But what's also cool is that the episode gives you a taste of Justin's school life.

TM: There's also some sort of twist, right?
MI: When he goes to the audition, someone unexpected is there -- and Justin ends up having a dance-off with this person, who isn't someone you would think would be a dancer. At first, Justin is dumbfounded about this development, but by the end of the episode, he sparks a new friendship with the person. It's really funny.

TM: Something else that comes out of the episode is we see once again how supportive Justin's family is of him. Is that message important to you?
MI: I think the great thing about Ugly Betty is that it definitely gives people the confidence to be themselves and be happy with who they are at the end of the day. I do think Justin having a supportive family is a big deal, because some kids don't have that.

Vanessa Williams, Mark Indelicato, and America Ferrara
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
Vanessa Williams, Mark Indelicato, and America Ferrara
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
TM: You also get a lot of support from your cast, right?
MI: I had only acted for six years, and this was the first pilot I ever booked, so I got pretty lucky with this cast. Vanessa Williams may play the wicked witch-like character on the show, but she is so great to work with. She's the mom figure on the set, maybe because she's a mom in real life. And Vanessa reminds me that stardom could be there forever, and it could disappear tomorrow, and no matter what, you never change who you are.

TM: What about America Ferrera, who plays Betty?
MI: She is a great example to me on how you're supposed to be when you become famous; she keeps growing every day and doesn't take one day for granted. What's also amazing is that America doesn't act like it's her show, even if she is the title character. She always considers us an ensemble cast, so when Lindsay Lohan guest starred, it was just like we added another member of the family.

TM: I know you want to do Broadway yourself, if not necessarily Billy Elliot. Do you have something in mind?
MI: I went to the opening night of 13 and I thought it was really captivating. I think it shows problems that real kids have. So when they change the cast and if they want an ethnic person in Indiana, I'd definitely do it. But if not that show, I'm sure there will be something else in the future.

TM: Have you thought about life after the show? Or even about giving up acting someday?
MI: I definitely want to go to college -- and even if I didn't, everyone I know won't let me forget how important it is. America personally said she would kill me if I don't go. The truth is I don't know if I'm going to be acting forever. And even before we moved here, I wanted to go to NYU. I love the campus and being in the city. But I don't want to study acting, though I can take an acting class there if I want. I want to find a fallback career; right now, learning how to manage money sounds like a good idea. The most important thing is I don't want to become a "where are they now" question. Or if I am, it should be a good "where are they now." I don't want people to gasp in horror when they see what I've become.