Give Us Your Best: AVN's Female Performer of the Year Nominees

This feature is part of the cover story of the January 2018 issue of AVN magazine. Click for the digital edition.

The AVN Female Performer of the Year trophy, first awarded in 1993 to AVN Hall of Famer Ashlyn Gere, has come to represent the pinnacle of the profession. Each year the award goes to the performer who has created the most outstanding body of work during the eligibility period as voted on by a panel of judges appointed by AVN Media Network. The winner embodies the total package for a porn star, delivering exceptional performances, demonstrating her range through a breadth of projects, and maintaining her marketability with a positive image. As we count down to the 2018 AVN Awards Show, we asked each of the nominees one question: What do you consider your greatest achievement? Here are their answers. (Note: August Ames also is a 2018 Female Performer of the Year nominee; she died on December 5, before we received her response to this question.)

Abella Danger

I’ve been very fortunate to have achieved many of the goals I’ve set for myself in porn, like having a Mason movie all about me that won Best Star Showcase and winning Best New Starlet and Hottest Newcomer. The emotions I felt during those events are feelings I’ll always remember and cherish. But my biggest achievement by a long shot is simply being able to explore my sexuality in a way that I really craved, that couldn’t be satisfied without doing porn. All the best sex I’ve had in my life has been in porn, with the sex gods I have the pleasure of having all to myself. I got to experience things normal guys would never to do to me in my personal life, like double penetration. I got to discover BDSM, which is almost like my therapy sex. I’m just so grateful for porn. Being in porn is my greatest achievement.


Adriana Chechik

I have been very lucky over my five years to achieve so much. I would say achieving my dreams of being an AVN Performer of the Year winner and Fleshlight Girl would be my biggest. However my greatest achievement has been helping others. I love giving people moments of pleasure and happiness. I have gotten amazing comments from fans that have brought me to tears. As most of my fans know, not only am I nasty but I love to be sexually open. I often shoot with TS performers and hearing from couples or other younger transgender people that I am a role model or have led them to be brave and open to the world of who they are is one thing I could have never expected. It’s such an honor to be considered as a positive in another’s life. I could never thank everyone who continues to support me.


Aidra Fox

Easily the recognition I’ve gotten from you guys over at AVN ... From winning Best Boy/Girl Sex Scene my first AVN, to being nominated for Female Performer of the Year this year... I have so much fun in this industry and I’m just glad everyone else is enjoying what I do as well.


Angela White

This was an interesting subject to reflect upon. As someone who is always striving toward my next goal, I have a tendency to see my greatest achievement as yet to come. Looking back on my career in adult entertainment, there are certain projects and accomplishments that stand out as great achievements. Starting my own company, creating my own website, and building my own brand have been key to my success. My marketability and professionalism have been recognized through attainments such as becoming a coveted Fleshlight Girl, being honored as a Vixen Angel, and the prestige of being represented by Mark Spiegler. Being asked to co-host the 2018 AVN Awards is an honor so great I have barely allowed myself to acknowledge its reality. Angela 3 is without a doubt the greatest movie I've ever created as a producer and director; and as a performer it allowed me to be more vulnerable and more powerful than ever. However, my greatest achievement is not one single project or accolade; rather it’s a sum far greater than its parts. My greatest achievement is the development of my career to where it is today while remaining true to myself and my sexual journey. My greatest achievement is never losing sight of my original goals to authentically express and explore my sexuality while acknowledging that none of this would have been possible without the help of so many fans, supporters, co-workers, peers, mentors and friends.


Elsa Jean

My greatest achievement would be entering the adult industry and striving for the best. No matter what people’s opinions are I’ve exceeded my goals. Before I started I was hoping to get one shoot a week. And now I’m nominated for Female Performer of the Year. I never would have imagined two-and-a-half years ago I would be where I am today.


Eva Lovia

My greatest achievement has to be maintaining my career as an independent performer. I never had the luxury of having someone in the industry handle my day-to-day scheduling, stand up for me to a company or director when I needed it, or give me general career advice. I have always had to figure it out on my own and trust my gut. It may have been a lot harder but it certainly is rewarding to know I made it on my own.


Gina Valentina

My greatest achievement since I’ve started—to be completely honest with you—is this moment right now. Because without me realizing it, I have made it so far since I first started Miami and today I am a Spiegler Girl, 2017 AVN Trophy Girl, Penthouse Pet and have six nominations as of this year, five as of last year. I would never have thought that I would get this far. So thinking about it now my greatest achievement has been my whole experience. Just seeing my name up with the rest of the top female performers of our age makes my heart flutter. Knowing when I started I had to prove to directors and companies that I was as great as a performer as the rest because it was so hard for people to get past my tattoos—and I’m not going to lie, it did stop me from performing with other companies that now shoot me. I guess by trying to prove that I could do more than average. I’m Gina Valentina, the sexiest Latina, and I worked hard to get recognized from what I love to do. Just knowing I started in Miami people didn’t think I was going to make it to L.A.—to now almost three years later and I’m with Mark Spiegler. I know I made my place in this industry. This will be another milestone in my career, another milestone in my life where I know I have been recognized for my work and I am humbled and so grateful for everything I have gone through.


Holly Hendrix

As a professional porn actress, I have reached a lot of goals that I set for myself, and more, in the prime of my career. I have succeeded in ways I have always desired in this field of work. I have gotten opportunities to be in major productions; I have traveled the world; I’ve won nine awards; and I even bought my first home. Out of all of my fortunate accomplishments, and after thinking about the question very thoroughly, I have to say the most victorious achievement that I’ve encountered is winning AVN’s Best New Starlet award last January.

Even so, I honestly cannot say ‘winning the award’ itself is the achievement, but the tactics getting there. Walking every step it took to acquire such an honor. My first goal I set, as I became established, was to be an AVN Best New Starlet nominee. Just to be recognized as one of the best new performers. I wanted Holly Hendrix to catch the eye of all porn viewers around the world as “extraordinary.” Unique. Powerful. But distinct. I desired nothing more but the recognition of being a striking, limitless and conspicuous porn performer who never fails to “wow” her viewers and her co-workers. Memorability is key. Using my sex drive and sex acts in a kind of aberrant way to leave viewers catching themselves still amazed and horny from the video hours later.

The stepping stones to winning this huge award are the most meaningful. The craving for it. The necessity of working my best to perfect every act to its fullest potential. I enjoy pushing my boundaries. I now live out the dirty thoughts in my imagination to share with horny people, with critics, couples, single fappers, and women who fantasize all the same extreme activities.

The recognition of being one of the most distinctive and unbounded new female talents in porn is by far my greatest achievement. This year, only my third AVN since I’ve been in porn, I am blessed to be nominated for Female Performer of the Year. I still feel brand new, so of course to have such a nomination I am extremely thankful. In a short amount of time, I’ve worked very hard and reached the most outrageous sexual extremities. Thank you so much for this nomination.

Before I finish writing I am eager to thank every ‘HollyHolic’ fan who has been devoted and highly passionate toward my work and my goals. Without my fans, I wouldn’t be the successful Hendrix. I can’t see Holly as strong and as passionate without the boost of motivation I obtain from fans. I want to also thank critics, all of my voters, and of course AVN for … well, god damn EVERYthing.


Jessa Rhodes

My greatest achievement thus far is my personal growth, especially since joining the adult industry. Looking back at the person I was, almost six years ago when I began in the adult industry, makes me laugh and cry at the same time. I was carefree but also stupid. I made many mistakes that I wish I hadn't but now I know were necessary. I've since developed a sense of compassion toward others, an area in which I was lacking tremendously. Whether it be with young girls trying to navigate in the industry, or with friends who were struggling with addiction. This has been a humbling few years for me. I finally discovered what it felt like to be an addict for myself. All this time I was criticizing the people around me saying ‘come on get it together, how hard could it be?’ ... I guess the universe slapped me with a hard truth, then shoved it down my throat so I could find out. I'm happy to say I no longer use. Along with sobriety has come the ability to make friends where I thought there were none. I've always been socially awkward and distrusting of people. But being sober has given me back the ability to see things clearly. We all want to be loved and accepted. We all want to be rid of the fears within ourselves. Fears of not being good enough, or pretty enough, funny, or even likable. For the longest time I allowed my insecurities to reject people in my life who were better than me because I felt intimidated. I've since chosen to hold those people close and learn all I can from them. Life is so much easier when you stop pretending to know it all. I'm so happy to be rid of the grudges in my life. Most of which I put in place myself. There are many lessons I've learned the hard way, this year most of all. One of which is to cherish the life you’re given and the ones the universe puts in yours. I found out I lost a friend to suicide earlier this morning. I know it’s easy to sit here and say, “I should've been there more,” or “What if I could've helped?” But hindsight is always 20/20. The truth is all we have is now. I regret not picking up the phone a week ago and inviting her to get out of the house with me to just have a “girls’ day.” Truth is, I could’ve … but I sat in front of my TV instead. I'm not saying it would've made a difference in the outcome, but I wish I would've cherished more of the time I could've spent with her. Growth is critical. Listening to the life lessons our souls are being taught every day is important. If we're not working on ourselves to evolve and achieve growth, we have nothing. So yes, this is my greatest achievement.

My dear August, I hope you win this one. You always deserved it.


Katrina Jade

I feel my greatest achievement throughout the year has been maintaining my brand, and of course joining the Evil Angel family, becoming their first company daughter! I’ve never been so happy and excited! Love you guys!


Keisha Grey

My biggest achievement was becoming a Vixen Angel or Girlsway Girl of the Month.


Lana Rhoades

My greatest achievement is that I had a dream from the age of 13 and I made it my reality. I used to watch documentaries of Jenna Jameson and Savannah and I thought they were so beautiful and glamorous. I wanted to be a porn star like them when I grew up. The day I turned 18 I applied at agencies. From the second I started I was handed a great set of cards in the industry. I had instant success almost like it was destiny, but a lot of people attributed it to me being “good looking.” And I didn't like that. I wanted to show people I am more than just a pretty face. This year I made it my duty to show everyone I do not slide by on “good looks.” I work hard, I am one of the dirtiest, and I put my heart into my movies. I am proud of myself because I know how hard I worked this year, and I am proud to be a porn star. Sometimes I think back about when I used to daydream about who I wanted to be when I grew up and it’s surreal I am living it.


Natalia Starr

Reaching the fifth butt plug!


Riley Reid

There are so many things that have occurred in my life, it’s hard to choose one greatest achievement. From winning numerous awards, becoming a Fleshlight Girl, to being one the industry’s top stars—there are so many things that I feel so compelled to say is my greatest achievement. Although to be honest I think my greatest achievement is having stayed true to myself. In all my years of being in the industry I have been surrounded by an industry of beauty and stardom. I have always reminded myself that I am the most beautiful when I am 100 percent naturally me and that’s a hard mindset being a model/porn star. The standards of beauty in modern day are overwhelming for girls like me. I want all the women in world to know that they are beautiful the way they are and not to feel like they need to fit an image of what society portrays. Especially with social media it’s very easy to get lost in what is genuine and true. So this is my reminder to everyone to stay true to who you are, whether you’re a millionaire or a young adult in college, don’t allow yourself to get lost. Remember what’s the most important in life. Being healthy, taking care of your mind and body and loving yourself wholeheartedly.