Future fashion model Rhea Durham was born July 1, 1978 to Baptist Protestant parents. She was discovered early on, as fourteen year-old Rhea caught the eye of a modeling talent scout when at a mall. By 17, she’d done fashion shows in New York, Milan, and Paris. She appeared in Christian Dior Haute Couture in 1998, the same year she also appeared in the VH1 Fashion Awards.
She walked in the Victoria’s Secret fashion show in 2000 and 2001, and her life changed in 2001 when she encountered a young Mark Wahlberg doing a press junket. Mark’s star was definitely on the rise, as he’d released both The Yards and The Perfect Storm the year earlier, and would release Rock Star and Planet of the Apes that year. His personal life was messy, however. After a troubled youth, including a 45-day stint in jail as a teenager, and several broken hearts, the 28 year-old actor didn’t believe in true love. But something about the lovely brunette made him think he should give romance another shot. He took a risk, and asked 22 year-old Rhea out. And she said yes!
Setting The Tone Of Their Relationship
His next question, though, was a bit unconventional, and set the tone for the rest of their relationship. Mark, a devout Catholic, asked Rhea if she wanted to come to church with him the next morning. That might have put some women off, but not Rhea. She said yes again, and the couple ended up having their first date by celebrating Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.
The two clicked, and began dating. Things got serious in 2003 when Rhea fell pregnant with the couple’s first daughter, Ella Rae. Ella Rae was soon followed by brother Michael in 2006 and second brother Brendan Joseph in 2008. By now, Rhea had thoroughly changed Mark’s perspective on love, family, and romance. «She has helped me become the man that I am… Until I met her, I wasn’t ready to have a family,» Wahlberg told US Magazine.
Wahlberg certainly wasn’t wrong. Though the couple had been living together and raising their children for years, they didn’t make it official until 2009. That was the same year Rhea formally converted to Roman Catholicism, and the pair married in a quiet Catholic ceremony in Beverly Hills, with their three children watching. Three would soon become four, however, as Rhea gave birth to Grace Margaret in 2010.
Rhea has continued working as a model while growing her family. She’s appeared in fashion shoots for Marie Claire, French Vogue, and British and American ELLE. She also appeared on Entertainment Tonight as herself in 2014, and has a special thanks credit as Rhea Wahlberg in 2009’s film The Lovely Bones.
She does enjoy being a mother, however, and the couple hasn’t entirely ruled out having a fifth child. They both credit regular Thursday night dates and staying involved in their children’s’ lives with keeping their marriage strong.