When speaking to civilians (non-industry folk) often they will tell you they just “skip the corny acting” and get straight to the good stuff … but if that were true, how are heavy hitters that produce adult features, like Wicked Pictures, New Sensations, etc., so successful?
As someone who has been pegged as a “gonzo girl,” there is actually nothing I love more than acting in XXX films. Though I was a high school, college and adult drama nerd, you would probably never guess this about me at first glance. I have been pushed or pigeon-holed into this category of gonzo, along with many others, because of my intense performances and my “extreme” look. How does one cast a tall, heavily modified and short-haired girl in just any acting role? Unless, of course, that role was written specifically for them!
If you have seen trailers for adult movies these days, it’s sometimes hard to decipher whether you are watching pornography or a mainstream film.
If you have seen my recent work, you know that my role in Wicked Pictures “Fallen II: Angels & Demons” and Evil Angel’s “Leigh Raven: Prove Something” were just that — written for me! Or, at least the writer had me in mind from day one.
I asked Brad Armstrong, the writer and director of “Fallen II” if he wrote this role for me, and he texted me, “I cast you as Max with your look, and my perception of who I thought you were in mind … because I hadn’t really met you before. I wrote the part specifically with you in mind though … that’s why it was such a tough thing when I was considering whether or not I could/couldn’t hire you … in my mind, you were Max. Luckily, I wasn’t a pussy and took the risk … although I’ve heard a few people took offense to it.”
As many know, some directors have taken a break from hiring me after I released a controversial video on YouTube in March of 2018, discussing my traumatic on-set experience while shooting a scene. The industry pretty much split 50/50 when it came to believing my claims of what took place on set that day. However, the majority did not want to get involved at all, which meant leaving me without work.
Both Armstrong and John Stagliano of Evil Angel did not know me or my personality at this point, and against the judgment of others, each took a chance by casting me. I am so grateful they did. Not only are they two of the most reputable directors in the biz, but I was able to showcase what I love, acting.
After working with Armstrong, I am so grateful that he had nothing but kind things to say. “She is an amazing talent,” Armstrong has stated. “Both her acting and sex scenes were just incredible. Her enthusiasm for the role was infectious, she was so vested in the project and just so happy to be there and so professional.”
Stagliano also gave nothing but positive feedback in a recent press release. “It is a great pleasure to work with a talented and intelligent performer who I can bounce ideas off of and who contributes so much of herself,” he said. “Leigh was a real pleasure to work with.”
Who knew? The girl begging for a chance, despite her appearance and hideous rumors, is professional, will put all of herself into a role and can act! For now, I am fine with directors writing roles with me specifically in mind. I do, however, look forward to a day when directors break the barriers completely and hire talent for their talent — focusing less on tattoos, body size, hair color and, of course, nonsensical gossip.
This may never happen, but I know that we, as an industry, would only grow by doing so, especially since movies are taking more creative risks than ever and it seems to be paying off. If you have seen trailers for adult movies these days, it’s sometimes hard to decipher whether you are watching pornography or a mainstream film. Many companies are upping the production quality and are focusing just as much effort on acting, cinematography and editing, alongside the sex scenes. Companies like Wicked Pictures and Gamma Films are perfect examples of what I am talking about. These are companies that are sweeping award ceremonies with nominations and awards year after year for their impressive films that showcase a story full of talent displayed by XXX actors and actresses.
Working on “Fallen II” gave me so much insight on what goes into producing a major film. I think I was only on set three or four of the seven production days; but I will tell you one thing, the script was fat and the days were long. Everybody was so excited about this film because the first “Fallen” was shot 10 years prior and remains one of Wicked Pictures’ most successful movies to date. Although some scenes were shot under not-the-most-comfortable conditions due to hot weather and such, everyone from the PA to the photographer, the director and the talent were happy to be there, showcasing their skills. I feel so lucky to have worked beside some of the best actors our industry has to offer, including Jessica Drake, Tommy Pistol and Misty Stone, among others.
Meanwhile, collaborating with John Stagliano and Lea Lexis on my showcase gave me similar insight into the passion it takes to create a proper adult film. Evil Angel is one of the biggest and baddest companies in adult, but the incredible thing about shooting with John, is that it was an intimate experience. This film was a much smaller production than “Fallen II,” because as opposed to having 20-plus people on set, it was often just John, myself and my co-stars.
John and I bounced the script back and forth many times, he allowed me to help cast the film, and we spent long lunches together creating this movie. After getting to know me, John wanted me to utilize my acting chops by presenting the audience with a wide range of expressions. The psychotic episodes my character has are as real as they could be. From the tears and the shaking, to the screaming and the drooling … they were authentic performances, because I put my all into them.
The old-fashioned stereotypes about porn stars and their performances are definitely due to be reevaluated. Successful performers put everything into their job, whether they are a “gonzo girl,” or not. It takes an incredibly conscious person to be able to enjoy sex authentically, while also keeping their asshole open for the camera, and remember to keep up the incestuous dialogue nonetheless!
Civilians may not realize it, but what they are enjoying about their porn is much more than sex; it is the hard work by many teams of people who have to work together, trust one another and distribute a quality production.