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Mormons reflect on experience of being on reality TV

Published: Friday, Feb. 21 2014 1:00 p.m. MST

Nixon, who has adopted the role of a small-town girl living in the big city, said, “Those same small-town ideals that I was raised with, having a family and having a church community, those things are still important to me. Even though I live in a big city where it’s not as popular to do those things, I’m going to still do them and I think that that makes you an interesting person. Maybe ‘peculiar’ is a common word that’s used.”

Hayes and Lewis, who got all four judges to turn their chairs around during their “blind audition” on “The Voice,” also turned some heads when they addressed pop singer Shakira, a coach on the show, in Spanish. Both singers served Spanish-speaking missions for the LDS Church.

Hayes said that his traditional Mormon values are always present in his mind as a performer.

"Jon and I certainly do try to be well behaved and to act in accordance to what we believe," he said. "I represent my family, I represent the Mormons as a whole. I represent people that live in the West. I’ve got to kind of keep all those things in mind and act accordingly.”

Morality, ethics and LDS standards

Members of the LDS Church are no strangers to singing competitions, with the most prominent among musical Mormons being David Archuleta, who placed second on “American Idol” in 2008. Kenzie Hall, who was recently eliminated from season 13 of “Idol,” is also a Mormon.

BYU alumna Amy Whitcomb gained considerable national exposure by appearing a total of three times on singing competitions. She appeared alongside Hayes and Lewis on season 4 of “The Voice” and also competed twice on NBC’s “The Sing-Off” (with Noteworthy in 2009 and as a member of Delilah in 2011).

Due to the nature of some reality competitions, contestants’ morality and ethics are often put to the test, as Whitcomb can attest. She said that feedback based on her appearances on “The Sing-Off” and “The Voice” strengthened her testimony of modesty.

As a young female singer, she knew she would be put in a position where she would be looked up to as a role model by some viewers but also unfairly scrutinized by others.

“I had to think about a lot of the young girls that would be looking at me and watching me. I have gotten some irrational and ridiculous emails from moms about certain, really particular modesty things,” Whitcomb told the Deseret News. “(But) I actually do appreciate those because they make me think a little bit more about my song choice, about my outfit choice — and it’s good! There’s no reason why I cannot choose a more conservative route.”

She mentioned that she received compliments on her attitude, her demeanor and her habit of always dressing appropriately. “That was something that I took into consideration,” she said. “I was still covered up — and definitely really covered up, compared to the next person. People really appreciated that. I’ve come to really appreciate modesty more and more.”

During her two seasons on “Survivor,” Meehan visibly struggled with moral dilemmas presented by the nature of the game, often wondering how to balance personal integrity with strategy and gameplay.

“I just kept telling myself that BYU has a football team and those guys look like they could pummel other people. They hurt them. They knock them down — for a game,” Meehan explained. “I’m not going to physically harm anyone in this game. We’re all in it as adults with the goal of being the Sole Survivor, so I think I justified it by saying, ‘It would be silly to be on the field and not tackle — because that’s part of the game.’ So I kind of accepted the conditions that it’s not reality — that it’s a world that requires deception — and that, if I’m going to participate in that world, I either have to do that or not participate. Those are the rules. I’m playing, they’re playing, we both know tackling is involved, so I’m going to do it.”

Both Whitcomb and Meehan said their struggles ultimately brought out the best in them.

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