‘NCIS’ Maria Bello Was Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and She Treats It like a ‘Gift’
Maria Bello, known as Special Agent Jacqueline "Jack" Sloane on the series “NCIS,” among other series and films, battled bipolar disorder since she was a child. However, she sees the disease as a gift, especially in her line of work.
Maria Bello’s views in life are not what most people would label “the norm,” and she couldn’t care less. She’s been fighting against all kinds of labels in her life for years, and that includes both her personal and professional life.
The 52-year-old is raising her son in what she calls a modern family; she is in a relationship with a woman but refuses to identify as a lesbian and calls a mental disorder that has been stigmatized for centuries a “gift.”
Here’s more about Bello’s exciting life.
MARIA BELLO’S BLOOMING CAREER
Maria Bello started her acting career in the early ‘90s, honing her acting skills in New York theater productions after majoring in political science at Villanova University.
She went on to land small roles in series like “The Commish,” “Nowhere Man,” and “Misery Loves Company,” and got her big break in 1996 when she was cast in the short-lived spy series “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”
Following the cancelation of that show, Bello appeared as a guest on the medical drama “E.R” as Dr. Anna Del Amico. Still, the producers were so happy with her work that she became a regular on the series.
Maria has also appeared in popular films like “Payback,” “Coyote Ugly,” “A History of Violence,” “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor,” “Prisoners” and “Lights Out.”
She also had leading roles in “Prime Suspect,” “Touch,” and has been portraying Agent Jack Sloane through the past three seasons of “NCIS.”
DEALING WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER
Maria Bello was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 28 years old. However, she has battled mental disorder since she was very young.
“Thank God I was [diagnosed], or I probably wouldn't be here right now,” she told The Straits Time in 2016.
Bello first opened up about her diagnosis in her 2015 book of essays, “Whatever...Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves,” and later addressed it again while promoting her 2016 horror film “Lights Out.”
In the movie, Bello gave life to a depressed mother who had been admitted to a mental hospital as a child and is haunted by a ghost from the past.
For Maria who’s not a fan of horror films, bringing to life a person with a mental disorder was both a challenge and an opportunity. As she explained:
"I have the gift of bipolar disorder and having the experience of high highs and low lows and being able to draw from those experiences and showing it on the screen. I show how mental illness affects everyone in the family.”
A SUPERPOWER IN DISGUISE
Bello believes that things that people are used to seeing as diseases have the potential to become superpowers with newer medications.
“I've experienced things that most people don't experience,” she continued. “Thank God that people don't have to experience the lows, but for people to get to feel it through my acting is a gift. I'm in the right profession to have it."
On top of that, Maria mentioned to Entertainment Tonight that the feeling of being at the very top and the very bottom of human emotion has made her more empathetic as well.
MARIA’S MODERN FAMILY
Although Maria has dated men and has a son with her former partner Dan McDermott, in November 2013, she wrote an op-ed column on the New York Times talking about her “modern family” and her complicated views on sexuality and love.
At the time, Bello revealed she was in a relationship with her best friend Clare Munn and talked about coming out to her family and her son, and how it was the kid, Jackson, who gave her the courage she needed.
"When he was 12 years old, and I told him I was in a romantic relationship with a woman who was like a godmother to him, I didn't know what he would say. He smiled at me and simply said, 'Whatever, mom. Love is love.'"
Back then, the media took Maria’s words as her way of stating she was a lesbian, but for the actress, that reaction was disappointing and missed the point of her essay.
“In my story, traditional labels don't seem to fit anymore for most people; they are limiting the possibility for me to become who I am meant to be,” she told The Hollywood Reporter. “I just don't define myself by who I have sex with.”
These days, Maria is no longer with Clare. She’s dating chef Dominique Crenn, who was included on InStyle’s list of “50 badass women” who are changing the world as the first woman to run a three Michelin stars restaurant in the U.S.
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