The Struggle With Standards
Having high moral standards and working in the entertainment industry is HARD! You tend to not work as much and pay is minimal which is a sad commentary on our world in my opinion.
I am an actor and audiobook narrator. I’ve been acting since I was a kid out in LA and have adored it! Film is my first love but audiobooks are a very close second, then followed by stage. As a child actor, I remember being super uncomfortable in acting classes when given a script with bad language in it. What your definition of “bad” is, is up to you but as a young actor, I knew there were words I wasn’t comfortable with. I didn’t use them in my real life so I didn’t want to use them on screen either.
Despite my coach and manager’s encouragement and explanation of the fact that it’s not me, just the character I was playing, I still wasn’t comfortable with it. As a young child, it was forgivable and often endearing to some. As I got older though, it became less endearing and more annoying to coaches, managers, casting directors and the like. Then as a teenager, there wasn’t only language I wasn’t comfortable with but story lines, costumes and characters. My poor manager just didn’t know what to do with me. I turned down many auditions and roles and it held me back from being a successful actor. Many of my peers were rocking it! Some even going on to win many awards but I wouldn’t give up my standards, so I floundered.
But It’s Just A Character, It’s Not Really You
Believe me, I understand that I am an actor and it’s a character I am portraying. I get that it’s not me, that’s acting 101. However, it’s not someone I want to be portraying either! Having standards in Hollywood is like being an alien, they just don’t understand. I eventually found my way to film school where I ran into the same problems but behind the scenes, films I did NOT want to work on kept popping up or worse, part of our grade. There were required films to watch that I did not want to (many a film school teacher resented me and my outspokenness).
I eventually moved to Utah where I knew they made a lot of movies and thanks to the population of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and their film studios, I hoped they understood standards a bit better than Hollywood. While I got cast in a few great film projects over the years in Utah, it didn’t really pan out either. I found that for the most part, the content was either largely the same as LA or the “clean” projects I didn’t fit the bill (blond hair blue eyes just wasn’t the thing anymore!). So for a while I gave up acting.
Then a few years ago, I started doing more stage here in Utah which allowed for more flexibility and I was gratefully cast in, directed and stage managed many amazing shows over the years. Though I felt (and still feel) a draw to screen, it just hasn’t worked out. So a couple years ago, I decided I wanted to give voice over a try, specifically audiobooks. I LOVE listening to audiobooks. They kept me company on my work commute pre covid, they make the dishes not so dreary and let me escape into magical worlds while I’m doing the mundane real world tasks (goodbye folding laundry, hello fairy realms!).
Books Aren’t Safe Either
However, as I would listen to books, I soon realized how much explicit content is also in books. And as an avid YA reader, it shocked and saddened me. When I would check out books from the library (thank you Overdrive!) I would check out 3 or 4 at a time because undoubtedly I would return 1 or 2 before finishing due to excessive language or explicit sex scenes (especially with minors! ugh). So when I got into audiobooks, I was concerned my standards would hold me back again.
Gratefully I’ve been able to narrate some AMAZING books! Some have a bit more language than I’d prefer but have remained fairly clean. And so many of my authors have been wonderful at letting me know before contracts the content of the book so I can decide and I’m so grateful for that!
However, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!
It is SO hard to find clean books to narrate sometimes! And even harder to find clean books to narrate that pay! I’ve discovered that so many “clean authors” just don’t have the funds to pay the standard $250pfh or anywhere close to that. This isn’t all of them, I know of a good handful (and have worked with some) who fund their books outright. However, it seems that most of them can’t afford much up front and rely on royalty share. Now many of my colleagues would argue that they have no right creating an audiobook then but I personally disagree. I am actually happy to do royalty share if it’s a book/author I am truly interested in or I believe in or think will sell well. I even build a few RS books into my schedule each quarter because I believe in these authors. But, I too have overhead costs and need to make more than a few sales each month.
So it just leaves me to wonder why there isn’t as much financial success for clean? Now, I know that there are success stories out there, specifically in the Clean Romance genre and that is amazing and I’m so happy for that, but what about the other clean genres? I know many fellow narrators who don’t have my similar standards and are making full time wages on audiobook narrating, and even on Royalty share projects (meaning A LOT of people are buying them!). While I am happy for them, it’s just not the path I’m willing to take. I heard a fellow narrator once say something to the effect that through their audiobooks, they live in “a house that porn built” and that is just something I can’t get behind. My standards mean more to me than the money. (No judgement to anyone who doesn’t feel the same.)
Thank You, Clean Authors!
Why have we become a society that engages in foul language so much we hardly bat an eye and why is porn in word form the pick of the day? It saddens me. Words are powerful and I want to use my voice for good. I am so grateful when I find an author willing to bill themselves as clean, to stand up for higher standards. So to all the clean authors, Christian authors and authors who write clean but don’t bill themselves that way, THANK YOU. We need more wholesome media. That is the point of Cats Meow Productions, getting more clean audio to the world. I believe when a world loses its moral compass, it’s downhill from there.
So just know if you are an author that writes clean, there are readers (and narrators) who truly appreciate it! And if you’re a reader who likes clean, please support your authors, write reviews, tell them how much you appreciate clean and spread the word on their books. Let’s all band together to make clean books more popular, more read, more available. We need them!