Heartbreak to Art

What would you do if someone started a Facebook page for your haters? This artist wrote a web series

Toronto artist Bobby Del Rio says he's definitely had some trouble with trolls, but his experience of online bullying ultimately inspired him to write his new web series.

Bobby Del Rio on the online bullying incident that inspired his current web series

Toronto artist Bobby Del Rio says he's definitely had some trouble with trolls, but his experience of online bullying ultimately inspired him to write his new web series "In Real Life". 1:09

In one episode of Bobby Del Rio's web series In Real Life, the hero finds himself targeted by bullied online. You could say it's a case of IRL imitating art. Del Rio's been through all that stuff before, as he reveals in this latest Heartbreak to Art video. A veteran member of Toronto's film and theatre community, he says he's definitely had some trouble with trolls. And though he told himself the internet just brings out the "worst of humanity," the comments did their damage. "Emotionally, I felt like nothing else existed," he says in the video — but he took those feelings, and put them into his web series. Get a quick intro to the artist, and read his advice for those being bullied online.

Name: Bobby Del Rio (@Bobman

Age: 39

Hometown: Toronto

Lives and works: Toronto

Art: Actor, writer, director

His style: "Ruthless pursuit of the truth."

Current project: In Real Life, which won best web series at the LA Film Awards in February. As Del Rio puts it, it's "an anthology series about social media. Every episode is a different genre."

On cyberbullying: "I have never actually shared [the story in the video] publicly, but I think it's important to get the word out. Bullying is real, and can happen to anyone. My deep desire to understand social media stems from abuse I have continually endured online via social media."

"I have had many incidents over the course of my 20-year career. It's an issue that affects so many people of all different ages, races, genders, etc."

"I mostly just try to ignore/block/unfriend people. It's not always easy, but I stopped escalating incidents to the best of my ability. Instead of trying to fight the whole world, I just unfriend people pretty quickly."

His advice for anyone being bullied online: "You are not alone. Be strong. It will pass. Protect yourself always, and surround yourself with a good support system."

What's next? If you're in Toronto, find Del Rio at this year's Summerworks festival in August. He'll star in his 2009 play, Professionally Ethnic, a "comedic political satire about the awkward way multiculturalism is implemented in Canadian theatre."

Heartbreak to Art is a CBC Arts web series about the transformative power of creativity. In each episode, a different Canadian artist shares a disarmingly personal story. These dancers, musicians, painters and poets have all lived through deeply emotional challenges, and they reveal how art saw them through. A collection of impressionistic portraits, the series' director, Karena Evans, puts it this way: these films are "about what every real story is truly about — how the human heart changes."


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