Welcome to another Featured Friday!
Over the past couple weeks I have discovered the amazing, hilarious and insightful podcast – the 98%. Two lovely ladies, Alexa Morden and Katie Elin-Salt, joined forces to explore what it is really like for the majority of actors by sharing advice, interviews and a few laughs about the reality of the job. It’s become my regular listening playlist for my walks, or if I am just sitting around the house doing odd jobs. Although, I have to tell you beware if you are listening to this on a walk because they will have you laughing out loud! Just last week I was walking around London listening to one of their episodes of them sharing audition stories, which I could definitely relate to, but one of them was so funny I couldn’t help but burst out laughing not caring who was looking at me. I highly recommend checking it out and giving it a listen.
I was so delighted when I reached out to them recently and they agreed to have an interview for a Featured Friday spot! So let’s jump to it, and find a little bit more of the behind the scenes of the 98%.
- Let’s start from the beginning, from your website I see you two met from a commercial casting and kept in touch. What prompted you two to start a podcast?
- I (Alexa) was in Vancouver for half the year of 2017 and was having a bit of a tough time mentally. I personally found at that time that listening to interviews with other actors actually made me feel worse because in my mind they had everything I wanted in terms of their career, while I was doing everything I could to get there and it wasn’t working. I realised that actors are always comparing themselves to others (specifically the 2% who are “working actors”) because they are the only actors we hear from. We never see or hear from the majority of actors who aren’t going from table read to premiere every other week even though I KNEW they existed because I and all my friends were them!! So I toyed with the idea of starting a podcast because it was the only way we’d have a voice that wasn’t contingent on someone else making it happen. I was also listening to the podcast My Favourite Murder at the time and loved that they were just two aquatints who bonded over a common interest and as a listener it was enjoyable hearing them learn things about each other as the podcast went on. I had only spoken to Katie properly once before this but I knew she was funny, honest, passionate and talented so I sent her, I think, a 5 minute voice note on WhatsApp babbling on and asking for her honest opinion on my idea of a podcast talking about the reality of what most actors go through but never talk about. I knew she’d be honest if she thought it sounded shit because we weren’t even friends at that point so she didn’t have to be polite! But luckily she loved it and I soon realised it would be way better with her as a host too so we could bounce off each other and share stories that neither of us had heard before. Katie has lots of impassioned thoughts about this industry that I knew she wouldn’t be afraid of sharing..which was proved correct when I got back to London and we had our first meet up where we chatted non stop!
- Did you find it difficult starting out? And did you think it was going to get as big as it is now?
- It had its difficulties in terms of me having no idea how to make a podcast! But I dedicated hours to research and learning and bought a microphone and I’m a very organised person so as soon as I have some sort of grasp on something I take it in my stride and am able to keep multiple tabs open in my brain at all times! We would imagine and joke about it going mainstream and having thousands of listeners and being able to quit our day jobs just to podcast, but as actors we were both used to not getting ahead of ourselves and not expecting anything. Which I think helped a lot. I see other podcasters in facebook groups asking how to get more listens and how to make money from podcasting. That was never our goal. In my mind if we got any more listens than just my parents or we were able to help just one person then it would be a success. The fact we’ve reached so many people and continuously get told how helpful the podcast is is still surreal, I can’t really explain it! I’ll never forget the first time we got an email from someone saying that thanks to our honesty on the podcast they had started therapy and had a complete turn around in their attitude and mental health. No matter how “big” the podcast gets – those are the moments that stand out the most.
- As an actress myself, I find it so important to find other creative outlets, that’s why I started the blog in the first place. How has the podcast 98% allowed you to explore yourself as artists/actors – Or has it? (Btw one of my favourite things about the podcast is the introduction theme songs!)
- While the podcast isn’t an acting job, it is a creative outlet that has helped me enormously. I found that even writing scripts came to dead ends because you’re waiting on other people to give you the green light. With the podcast we are in charge of it and don’t have to wait for someone else to grant us permission to do it and make it happen. It’s given me an identity outside of auditioning and therefore a channel to find fulfilment inside myself. Seeing hard work actually pay off is an amazing feeling and we both can’t recommend enough that actors find something, anything, that gives them a creative outlet that doesn’t rely on someone else (agents, casting directors, directors, bosses etc) allowing them to do it. Even if it’s an instrument or jewellery making or photography or something!And in terms of songs…Katie is the only other person I’ve met that loves writing parodies to songs as much as me (like, it’s just something we do randomly throughout the day) and we joke about being the Lennon and Mcartney of jingles ha. We are always singing a made up song about something! So I love that we were able to include that in the podcast…despite it adding a lot more work!! And you can find all our theme songs on our website as a sort of playlist!
- I love that you are able to bring in a variety of guests – casting directors, agents, directors – How did you start approaching them, or did they come to you?
- One of my motto’s is “you never know unless you give it a go” so when we started we just tried our luck! A lot of our guests are people we know, especially when we started, because we knew that’d be the easiest way to get people on and the vibe would instantly be friendly. We are specific about who we have on though and have a clear idea on why we are approaching them over others. We didn’t want to ask people just for a sake of it. We’ve had to say no to people that would be great guests because they didn’t quite fit what we’re about. Or others who we’d love to chat to but the topic would be too similar to something we’ve done. When we then started getting approached by people as time went on I was floored! Industry professionals we followed personally were getting in contact with US about coming on! It just shows that so much of this industry is smoke and mirrors. Every one of our guests has been a delight and genuinely loves what we’re doing and wants to help actors.
- I know that it is probably not the intention, but do you think you have benefited in any way from bringing on guest speakers, like casting directors?
- We’d be lying if we said we hadn’t fantasised about our podcast being an out-of-work actor ironically bringing us both acting work haha, but honestly it’s helped us more long term than that. We’ve benefited because of what our guests have taught us and the curtains we’ve been able to pull back for the first time. I am a more confident, content and understanding actor now because of what I’ve learned doing the podcast. Which I hope is the same for our listeners! When I had my final audition for the feature film I ended up booking last year the director said he’d been listening to the podcast after he saw my audition tape and looked me up. (Yes! They do look you up!) I was instantly nervous because I was so used to the “this is what I’ve been up to” spiel. I knew that he now knew I hadn’t worked for a while (and everything else we’ve talked about on the podcast!!). But he loved it and it took all the nervous energy out of the room. We spoke about some of what we discuss in the podcast…dodgy castings, being a 98% actor and our love of independent film. The podcast wasn’t the reason I got the part but because I had nothing to hide behind and no bullshit to try and spout it made it the best audition I’ve ever had. Katie and I felt like we took a risk being so honest about our actor lives on the podcast but really, why is it a risk? It’s the way things are, nothing to be ashamed of!
- You are now on your third series of the podcast, how do you feel you have grown since 2018?
- I love that our twitter has grown. We didn’t want our twitter page to just be dedicated to marketing the podcast. I love podcasts but don’t follow their social media because it’s all just advertising for a podcast I’m going to listen to anyway! So we really enjoy being a hub for all things actor, podcast related or not, and being able to be a voice for many people who don’t feel able to talk publicly about things when we do. But really in terms of the podcast I feel the same as the very first episode. We just want to provide support and laughs and be the “audio handbook” we could have really done with ourselves years ago. That will never change – even if they do make a movie about our lives and pay us millions of pounds! 😉 And while we have had a few recent guests that people may know more than others, our chats (don’t like calling them interviews!) just show that we are all people. Many podcasts have guests with large followings which leads to more exposure. That is not even a thought process for us. Every guest is as important as the next and we love that our steady growth comes from content not popularity!
- What is your ultimate goal you’d like to see the podcast achieve?
- I haven’t really thought about that before. I remember reaching 100 downloads a week or so in and sending an excited screen grab to Katie. So everything since then has just been a bonus. I think we are on track to reaching 100,000 total downloads for the whole podcast by the end of Series 3 which would be incredible. But if we don’t – no worries! We started the podcast as an outlet for ourselves and to be a help and support to others. That hasn’t changed and the feedback has exceeded our expectations! In a dream world we start earning money from the podcast, quit our day jobs and can podcast full time to bring multiple episodes a month! I’d love to do it more but it’s just not possible. I do all the editing, admin, marketing, communications whilst working and auditioning and Katie has her fingers in so many pies outside of the podcast with her many talents that we just can’t put more time in without giving up work that pays our bills! Plus it actually costs us hundreds of pounds a year just to host the podcast online for people to listen to for free, run our website and record our episodes. So if we ever got to a place where we weren’t out of pocket, that would be a huge weight off our shoulders!!
- Can we expect a series 4?
- We’ve been so busy trying to make Series 3 during a pandemic with me in Canada, Katie in the UK and our guests elsewhere that we haven’t even thought about doing a Series 4! Originally Series 4 wasn’t the plan because I’ll now be based in Vancouver but now we know we can do it all via zoom!! So maybe it’ll go to public opinion on if podcast zoom is the new podcast room and if people are left wanting more…answers on a postcard!!
- One last question, I always ask my features for any advice they would like to give to other creatives. Could you give any advice for young actors or creatives just starting out, or wanting to explore new opportunities to express their talents?
- It’s hard to think of anything to say that we haven’t covered in the podcast so…give that a go first! But I’ll try for a few succinct points…
- – Everything is temporary. So; enjoy every moment of the work you have in the field you desire. And; the shitty job you’re doing right now to pay your bills won’t be forever.
- – But! Try and find a pay the bills job that doesn’t crush your soul…
- – Keep a list of all things you accomplish that make you feel proud. (Big or small!) Focus on them and not the things that are outside of your control…
- – On that note…”Control The Controllables” !! (S1E5 of The 98%!)
- – Buckle up and take things in your stride. The things that don’t go your way are almost never to do with your talent or ability so don’t let yourself get into self doubt.And the most important thing:
- – DO NOT LOOK FOR YOUR SELF WORTH/VALIDITY IN THE INDUSTRY. YOU WILL NEVER FIND IT THERE!!! But when you find it within yourself, it opens a lot more doors.
Thank you so much to Alexa and Katie for featuring on Double-J-Creative, they truly have helped me with this podcast in more ways then one. If you wish to help them out with their podcast, you can do so by visiting their patreon page. Also, something very useful for actors is WeAudition. Because of lockdown, self tapes are more on the rise and this platforms helps you by connecting with other actors in order for you to find a reader, or earn money yourself for being a reader to someone! I recently signed up and by using their code 9825, you can get a discount!
If you wish to keep up with the podcast further follow them on twitter :
@ the98percentpod @ alexamorden @ katieelinsalt
As well as visiting their site :
I hope you have enjoyed this Featured Friday and please if you would like to be featured as well do not hesitate to get in touch!
Have a great day x