Authors! Authors!

Actor urges blueprint, strong foundation for building a life

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    CSI: NY actor and author Hill Harper speaks Wednesday during the Authors! Authors! event at the Stranahan Theater in Toledo.

    The Blade/Lori King
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  • Rogers High School student Brandon Jackson, left, and Southview's Dannie Duhart speak with CSI: NY actor and author Hill Harper.
    Rogers High School student Brandon Jackson, left, and Southview's Dannie Duhart speak with CSI: NY actor and author Hill Harper.

    Quizzing the audience with an in-your-face style as he sprinted up and down aisles, Hill Harper feigned exasperation when the answer he wanted wasn’t delivered. And in the process, he bellowed at, won laughs from, and inspired an all-ages crowd of 375 Wednesday night in the Stranahan Theater.

    “It’s time to stop living lives that are smaller than you were meant to live!” he shouted.

    Drawing largely from the first of his four books, Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny, Mr. Harper walked through his four-ingredient recipe for success at the Authors! Authors! talk, co-sponsored by The Blade and the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.

    He’s perhaps best known as an actor who portrays coroner Dr. Sheldon Hawkes in CSI: NY, now filming its ninth season.

    Mr. Harper, 46, used architecture as his over-arching analogy, saying that to live successfully, we must be “active architects of our own lives,” and the first step is to make a blueprint.

    Second, build a deep foundation, with materials such as a strong work ethic, family and values, education, good health, money, and faith, said Mr. Hill, who graduated from Harvard Law School (where he played basketball with and befriended the several-years-older Barack Obama). He has homes in New York and Los Angeles.

    We can keep growing through life by regularly adding layers to our own foundation, otherwise, rigidity can set in. The biggest obstacle to pursuing dreams is fear, which he spells out as False Evidence Appearing Real. “So many of the fears we walk around with are false; we’ve inherited them!” Fears begin to melt when we map out a strategy and build a foundation.

    Third is constructing the framework, including factors such as getting good grades and studying. The environment plays a part in this: if the home isn’t conducive for studying, find a place that is, he said.

    He noted how the environment in quake-prone L.A. caused him to buy a wooden home that can withstand movement better than brick, but his New York home is brick, more solid for cold winters.

    “Your ability to move and bend is critical,” he said.

    The final ingredient allows the structure to fulfill its purpose: a door that opens to let new people and ideas in and ushers out people who don’t help to propel us forward. New ideas and people are likely to cause us to go back to the blueprint and make alterations, a circular, lifelong process.

    Paraphrasing a quote by Robert F. Kennedy, he said the future does not belong to those who are fearful of bold projects and new ideas, but to those who can blend passion, reason, and courage to create a life that has impact.

    Next in the Authors! Authors! series is John Grogan, at 7 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Stranahan Theater. He wrote Marley and Me. Tickets can be purchased at library branches and at the door. Information: 419-259-5266.

    Contact Tahree Lane at: and 419-724-6075.