Overcoming the Hater Wall

Actor and Director Ben Hodge has been the acting teacher at Central York High School for the past 10 years where he has developed an innovative and fresh curriculum for young actors aged 13-24. This curriculum and workshop format is now available to the greater York area with hopes of training and leading new actors to the realisation that acting is a more than just a hobby or pastime: it is an honourable profession and a way of life. His connections with New York City, LA and local talent agencies are now being offered to anyone who joins the Studio classes and have opened the doors for many already joined. He currently runs classes and offers private acting coaching via Skype. Connect with Ben on Twitter or via email
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We all have dreams, goals and aspirations.

Haters never win. I just think that’s true about life, because negative energy always costs in the end.
Tom Hiddleston
For actors and those in the entertainment business, those dreams and aspirations seem more lofty than other occupations. The glitz and glam of show business often blinds us from the reality and truth of the entertainment business. It’s not an easy business. It takes hard work, determination, endurance and extreme focus to be successful in this business. There are countless numbers of great resources on what it takes to make it in the business but that is not what I want to talk about here.
I am interested in sharing something called the hater wall and how aspiring actors can learn to overcome it.
“Haters” are people who cannot be happy with one’s success or dreams of success. They mock, ridicule, question, berate and challenge any hopes of a positive or bright future. The hater wall is a figurative barrier of individuals or things that get in the way of our aspirations and goals.

Who are these people that make up the hater wall?

It can be different for everyone, but interestingly enough, many of the young actors that I work with speak about their friends and family being unsupportive or skeptical of their dream of becoming an actor or performer. People who are supposed to edify and build us up are often the ones who are tearing us down through harsh words, doubt and biting cynicism. When we encounter the hater wall, we naturally go on the defensive or retreat from the enormity of the situation. Why put up with the bickering, arguing and back and forth?
It’s important to note that our family and friends who make up the hater wall often have justifiable concerns. Being concerned about things like: “back up plans,” degrees, steady income, places to stay, food to eat, financial security, are all important and necessary realities that an aspiring actor needs to consider.
The problem is that those making up the hater wall respond to these concerns with suggestions to find another hobby, occupation, career or life goal. For those in the hater wall, acting is a proverbial waste of time, energy and talent. The energy and time spent on acting should go elsewhere, to law firms, medical school or the business sector.
The problem with this response is clear: wanting to become an actor is not simply about an occupation choice.
For many, acting is a way of life. It is the ultimate form of expression and connection that many people who have experienced it have a hard time forgetting its power. Why wouldn’t we want to do something we love for the rest of our lives? Why would we want to deny something that means so much to us just to settle into something else that may pay more in cash but leaves our sense of drive and completeness in massive debt?
Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how it’s done, they’ve seen it done every day, but they’re unable to do it themselves.
Brendan Behan
The hater wall is not just made up of people in our lives. Reality also can be part of this hater wall but in more of a positive way. If we don’t have the talent and aren’t booking work, etc, then maybe reality is trying to tell us something. Maybe we need to head back for more study or training. It doesn’t mean we have to give up, it means we have to be realistic and honest with our results and make appropriate adjustments to move towards our goals.
The only way the hater wall can be conquered or effectively managed is learning how we can find ways over it, around it or through it. We must understand that there will always be people and things adding to the hater wall in our lives. We must not run from the wall that looms in front of us. We must meet it head on.
Each of us respond to the hater wall differently. Some of us look up at its height and start climbing over it. Some of us think that we’d rather start searching for the end of the hater wall so we can find our way around it. Some of us look at the wall, grab some TNT and blow a hole right through the wall no matter what.
What is most important is that we find a way to the other side: to our true aspirations, our true goals our true calling. It’s also worth noting that all of these ways of dealing with the hater wall require some form of effort.
It takes work, blood, sweat and tears to climb, walk or drive through this wall. There is no quick fix. I can guarantee you that when you find your goals and achieve them on the other side, there is no greater sense of satisfaction in the world.

If you want to be an actor, if you have dreams of working in the entertainment business, GO FOR IT.

It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting.
Paulo Coelho
Surround yourself with people who will support, love, encourage and critique you constructively. These people have to speak truth when you need to hear it.
Learn from your mistakes and don’t get caught up in the petty and counter-productive arguments with those people in the hater wall. Learn to take their concerns with a grain of salt and find ways to respectfully respond with solutions to those concerns rather than fighting to see who’s right or wrong.
No one wins in that situation. There’s no need to be abrasive or destructive.
Stay true to what your heart and mind is telling you and take the necessary steps to achieving that. Remember that it will require planning, resources and time on your part. You can’t just pack up to NY/LA tomorrow on a whim and a dream. Show your hater wall that your love for your dream of becoming an actor is bigger than the end result.
If you’re willing to endure the hard work and training that it requires, then there is no hater wall that can stand in your way.

About Ben

Ben Hodge has been acting and directing for 20 years in a variety of formats. He has directed several productions in York, PA and had his play REACH performed in NYC at an Off-Broadway venue in 2009. Ben studied English and Acting at Messiah College and received his Masters in Education from Penn State University. After the success of REACH, the hit play about the hidden issues of 21st Century teens, Ben started acting classes in the York, PA area and created Ben Hodge Studios in October 2009. His main goal is to bring a high-level, professional acting workshop to York, PA that is modelled after professional workshops with influences by Uta Hagen, Sanford Meisner and David Mamet.
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