Former adult star Sasha Grey explains why she decided to leave the porn industry

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She was considered porn’s next biggest thing just six months after entering the industry, got dubbed the ‘next Jenna Jameson’ and had lucrative offers rolling in left and right – but Sasha Grey retired just a few years into her X-rated career.

The former adult actress has worn many hats since leaving that life behind, yet it seems the majority of people just can’t forget her stint in porn which catapulted her to global fame in 2006.

For some reason, people really seemed to dig the teen prodigy asking one of her co-star’s to punch her in the stomach, while they were going at it – as her rogue request resulted in her acquiring an army of fans right after her first flick.

Sasha made her debut as soon as she turned 18 after being keen to explore her ‘fantasies in a safe space’ and ‘different aspects of her sexuality’, while swapping her hometown of Sacramento for Los Angeles.

A year after she made her first film, she was on her way to becoming a major star – winning a string of awards, appearing on The Tyra Banks Show and bagging features in publications such as Playboy.

So you can imagine that a lot of people were left quite shocked when the model – real name Marina Ann Hantzis – announced her retirement in an extremely frank Facebook post in April 2011.

She said it had ‘become quite evident’ that her days of shooting raunchy content were over and done with.

The then-23-year-old wrote: “Don’t worry, I haven’t found Jesus. I’m proud to say I have no regrets, I genuinely feel I accomplished everything I could as a performer.

“It was simply the perfect time for me to move on…while I was on top (pun indeed, intended),” she wrote. “Life sometimes takes us in a direction we never could have imagined.”

The world was left reeling by this news, as like Sasha said, she had really hit here stride in porn – but loads of other people wanted a piece of her magic too.

During an appearance on the Real Gems With Erin Ashley Simon podcast, the star said she didn’t make the decision to quit porn ‘overnight’, but it was a thought that had been niggling at her for a while.

She filmed her final raunchy film in 2009 at the age of 21 and decided to concentrate on her other passions; art, modelling and acting instead, seeing her star in Steven Soderbergh’s film The Girlfriend Experience that same year.

Another role in the Canadian low-budget comedy Smash Cut followed, which made Sasha realise she needed to decide what she preferred doing in front of a camera.

The 36-year-old explained: “It was a combination of several things that were happening at the same time. I had just finished The Girlfriend Experience, I was doing a lot of press for that, it was like almost a year of non-stop press.

“I’d done another small Canadian film called Smash Cut, I was working on a photography book and I’d started and stopped a company in the span of less than a year.

“I felt like every side, or both sides, wanted me to pick a side and I wasn’t willing to do that,” she said. “I truly wasn’t.

“And it was the end of 2009, so this company I had failed, the economy had crashed the year before and we were all still recovering, we hadn’t even come back yet.

“I saw all these other opportunities around me, I was also making music and it was just natural.”

She explained she didn’t even think it was ‘necessary’ to discuss the matter, hence why she announced her retirement two years after filming her last porno.

Sasha continued: “I wanted – and was – existing in both worlds, despite what people wanted me to do. People wanted me to take a stance one way or the other and I just didn’t think it was necessary.

“I decided to figure it out on my own time, on my own terms.

“It was definitely difficult because there was a lot of uncertainty – you go from being a big fish in a small pond to navigating this new world and being completely unsure if any of it’s gonna work or not, but just taking it day by day.”

Sasha went on to achieve incredible success after ditching porn – with roles in HBO’s Entourage, 2011 thriller I Melt With You, Shrouded Corpse and Would You Rather.

On top of that, she voiced Viola DeWynter in both Saints Row: The Third and Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell and also starred as Eminem’s love interest in his music video for Space Bound.

But she still appreciates her time in the porn industry and credited it with helping her ‘learn a lot about her self worth’, ‘how to negotiate for herself’ and ‘how to stand up for herself’.

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