Mark Wroblewski, the participant in the Here At Home film, Honestly Painful, grew up in a small town in Poland when the Iron Curtain was still firmly in place. While studying for a Polish language teaching degree at Warsaw University, Wroblewski participated in an exchange program in France. There he made a momentous decision. Nearly 30 years later, he remembers the precise date of his defection to the West – February 23, 1983. It would be many years before he could return to his native country.
After traveling throughout Europe and North America he ended up in Toronto where he worked at a series of odd-jobs, doing everything from fast-food prep to data-entry. He also managed to sponsor several members of his family for immigration to Canada. But in 2004, his mental health took a turn for the worse, a situation that eventually led to homelessness and time spent at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
All his life Wroblewski has nursed a desire to be in showbiz. In the 1980s he tried to get his foot in the door by working for the Church of Scientology in L.A. but this strategy never panned out. Years later he enrolled in a modelling school in Scarborough, Ontario, but that never went anywhere either. “The secret to my success”, he notes with ironic delight, , “is that I never slept with anybody who could further my career.” In 2011, he took a turn on the catwalk at a CAMH event and received a standing ovation. You can see why – he’s clearly in his element.