Emily Willis: The Female Performer of the Year Interview

This is the cover story of the May issue of AVN magazine. Click here for the digital edition.

Emily Willis likes to slide into bed early the night before a scene and then wake up well before her call time.

“I give myself a few hours in the morning to get my mindset right, eat some breakfast if I can—if it’s not anal—and listen to my bad bitch music,” Willis explains.

“I have to be in my element and think about how I want the scene to go.”

She drinks water. She stretches. And she visualizes.

“I like to meditate in the mornings if I can just to clear myself out and be ready to fuck,” Willis continues. “I do believe we are athletes and taking care of your body is very important—and your mind is also very important.”

Her pre-scene routine appears to be working.

The 22-year-old superstar not only is an elite sexual athlete, she’s the reigning league MVP.

In what will be remembered as the most unusual awards season in porn history, Willis authored a remarkable body of work en route to the 2021 AVN Female Performer of the Year award at the first all-digital AVN Awards Show on January 23.

The former door-to-door sales phenom for DirecTV—who racked up more than 100 credits during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign—added eight more trophies that evening, including Best Star Showcase and Best Double-Penetration Sex Scene as she lit up the 38th annual ceremony.

Willis called it “the best night of my life.”

“I wish I could relive that night over and over again,” she tells AVN.

“It feels so fucking good to be recognized. I knew that I wanted this for so long and I got it—and I want it again. … But I'm so happy.”

Willis has emerged as one of adult’s most electric performers since signing with Motley Models in May 2018, earning numerous accolades and winning over a legion of worldwide fans along the way.

Her growing resume features titles such as Fleshlight Girl, Vixen Angel, Penthouse Pet, Playboy Plus All Star, Girlsway Girl of the Month, Twistys Treat, Cherry of the Month, Bang! Girl of the Month, Nubiles Fantasy and 2020 Adult Empire Pornstar of the Year.

In only three years, Willis went from selling DirecTV to being must-see TV. Her coronation as the industry’s new porn queen on January 23rd only reinforced what most industry observers already knew.

“I was crying,” Willis recalls. “I was so happy because you just never know. … You’re thinking like, ‘Maybe I got this,’ but you really never know. Oh man, I was so nervous.”


Willis’ breadth of awards underscored her range.

She also received honors for Best Girl/Girl Sex Scene for her tryst with Elsa Jean in Influence Elsa Jean (Tushy); Best All-Girl Group Scene with Riley Reid and Kristen Scott for Paranormal (GirlGirl.com); Best Blowbang Scene for her 10-man tussle for Hard XFacialized 7; and Best POV Sex Scene for inhaling Austrian pipe-layer Mick Blue for EvilAngel.com.

Her most high-profile movie of the year was the glittering showcase, The Insatiable Emily Willis, a two-disc set produced and directed by Jules Jordan and starring Willis in all five scenes.

That colossal effort entailed Willis delivering her first-ever D.P.—with Blue and Steve Holmes—that turned into AVN gold. In addition she went toe-to-toe with Rob Piper and Prince Yahshua in the 2021 AVN Best Three-Way Sex Scene – B/B/G.

The Hall of Fame director Jules Jordan told AVN after the show that “Emily has what it takes to be a legendary performer.”

No argument here.

When Willis realized how many awards she received, she was speechless.

“It felt so unreal. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me—nine awards?’ So it was shock and excitement and just like all of the emotions at once,” says Willis, who was born in San Rafael, Argentina, and raised in St. George, Utah, from the age of 5. “It was like an overwhelming sensation of I don't know what to do with myself. I want to scream. I want to dance, anything, like I’m so, so stoked.”

The 25-year industry veteran Jordan says the Insatiable showcase, which wrapped production not long before the country went into lockdown, turned into his best-selling release of 2020.

“The sales numbers Emily does are phenomenal,” Jordan says. “She really resonates with the younger crowd, who are usually not aware of specific starlets… She really stands out.

“I’m so glad she won Performer of the Year. She was definitely the most deserving I believe, and the timing of our movie couldn’t have been better. We all were on our ‘A' game.”


It’s become evident that Willis brings that killer instinct to every set she graces. It wasn’t a coincidence that she starred in four of the Top 10 Porn Movies of 2020 on retail giant AdultEmpire.com, which received its 14th AVN Award for Best Web Retail Store in January.

Leveraged by their library of 93,000-plus DVD and Blu-ray titles and more than 82,000 videos-on-demand, the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based firm tracks the market value of top performers at any given time based on metrics such as sales, rentals, downloads and searches.

Based on that data Adult Empire in December named Willis its third annual Pornstar of the Year.

“We award Pornstar of the Year to performers who push both themselves and the medium forward,” Colin Allerton, vice president of Adult Empire, tells AVN.

“Put another way, it’s reserved for stars who help to define and shape pornography in a given year. 2020 was obviously a highly unusual year in many ways, but Willis still managed to fire on all cylinders.

“I think that’s what most impressed us about her year. In a circumstance when most professionals would be content simply to hold their own, she was producing blockbusters that fans will still be watching five or 10 years from now. When they write the history of porn, Emily Willis will be one of the first names mentioned in connection with 2020.”

Allerton says her presence in several of the top movies of the past year illustrates the impact she had on the market.

“She was everywhere, giving the sort of performances that make people take notice,” Allerton continues. “She can carry an entire movie, such as The Insatiable Emily Willis, but she is also capable of contributing superb supporting performances, such as in Influence.

“Not every performer can transition with such ease between divergent movies like that. She has the kind of star power that is increasingly hard for performers to harness in an era when porn audiences are so fragmented.”

Mick Blue, the three-time AVN Male Performer of the Year, knows Willis’ performing prowess as well as anyone in adult, sharing the screen with her in numerous ball-draining outings.

Blue and Willis have performed together no less than seven times since 2018 just for Vixen Media Group’s family of websites that include Vixen, Tushy, Deeper and TushyRaw, among others. 

“I think Emily is such a sweet, incredible human being to start with and I’m super happy for her that she won Female Performer of the Year because she totally deserves it,” Blue tells AVN.

“It’s kind of like she’s naturally really good at having sex because she in my opinion truly enjoys what she does. But at the same time, she’s also very focused and smart in kind of like maximizing her performance and her efforts in whatever she does. And it just shows the fruits of her hard work now in the past few years.”

Blue adds, “Even now after her winning AVN Performer of the Year she’s even better than before and any time you have the opportunity to be on a project with her it’s just a great day.

“What we’ve seen from her is not the last yet. I think there is still a lot more great stuff from her to come, especially because of her dedication to the industry to being the best she can be. She’s truly one of a kind.”


About six weeks after the show, Willis erected a shelf inside her three-bedroom apartment to display her AVN hardware.

“I was like fuck it, I’m feeling a little bit crafty. I was going to have someone come do it, but I just set it up,” Willis reveals.

Not unlike the persistence she showed as a teenager—when she got her first job at a burger shop at 14 after initially getting a “no” from the manager, to keeping her grades up so she could stay in her competitive dance company—Willis realizes there is no substitute for hard work and determination.

“I would describe myself as a very intense, wild, passionate, energetic, bubbly performer,” Willis says. “And I try to elevate each and every scene and make them different.”

Motley Models president Dave Rock agrees.

“I love the person that she is,” Rock tells AVN. “She’s so delightful to be around. She’s just a sweet, nice, genuine person. She can sit down with a great director or with a well-known photographer or a brand new Motley girl and she makes everyone feel like they’re on the same level.

“She doesn’t have this elitist attitude like she’s too good. That’s the thing I like about her the most. Despite all the success she’s had, she’s down to earth and very sweet.”

Indeed, Willis leaves an impression wherever she goes. And according to industry insiders, winning an armful of trophies in January hasn’t changed her a bit.

AVN Hall of Fame director Chris Streams, a 25-year industry veteran from Annapolis, Md., captured Willis in a scene with 2004 AVN Male Performer of the Year Michael Stefano in March for the soon-to-be-released Anal Stars 2 for Evil Angel. For her efforts, Willis landed the box cover.

“I’ve shot her a ton,” Streams tells AVN. “And I’ll tell you what I put on her Twitter feed when they announced she won AVN Performer of the Year… My quote was, ‘You literally worked your ass off for it.’

“That’s how I feel. She did it. She stepped up… She’s amazing and she’s always a pleasure to be around—smiling and happy and always wants to do more. Like, ‘What else can we do?’

“She always makes the day great—like all the great girls do. There’s a reason why we shoot the good ones over and over again.”

Streams says Willis possesses certain traits that can’t be taught.

"You either have it or you don’t,” he continues. “There’s not an agent—as good as all of them may be—you can’t make a superstar. You can guide them or try to help them in the right direction and help them make the right decisions, but it’s her performance first and foremost and then it’s their look and then how they interact with the people they work with. Not just the performer in the scene but also the crew and the director, too.”

Fellow Hall of Fame shot-caller Axel Braun saw it for himself in late February.

The Head of Production for Wicked Pictures, who is more than 30 years into his career behind the camera, shot Willis for the first time in Axel Braun’s Down 2 Fuck. Willis squared off with Spanish heartthrob Ramon Nomar in front of Braun, marking a reunion of sorts as the same pair won the 2020 AVN Award for Best Anal Sex Scene for their butt sex in the LeWood/Evil Angel showcase Emily Willis: The Anal Awakening. 

“And to say that I was completely blown away would be a gross understatement,” Braun tells AVN. “She literally exudes sensuality and her performance was just incredible.

“Also she is extremely professional while also very personable, which makes her a pleasure to be around on set. But what I think makes Emily so unique is her ability to truly connect with her partner and with the camera at a level that I’ve rarely seen, and to convey to the viewer her pure sexual enjoyment.

“She is basically the female equivalent of Manuel Ferrara. As I told her after the scene, her AVN Female Performer of the Year award was very well deserved… and I doubt it will be the last one.”


Now already more than 450 credits into her career, Willis enters the summer with the demand for her services at an all-time high.

Just ask her agent at Motley Models, Ryan Kona, who tells AVN even though Willis has accomplished a lot in her young career, she isn’t satisfied. 

“That’s what I love about her,” Kona tells AVN. “She’s not content. She wants more and she wants bigger projects and that drive really impresses me.

“This coming year she has some big things in the works that are even going to surpass last year. I know that sounds crazy but she’s the queen right now and she deserves every single thing that’s coming to her.”

Willis’ expanding fanbase at press time included 638.9K followers on Twitter and more than 1.5 million on Instagram. If any more evidence was needed that word has gotten around about Willis, her rapid rise on Pornhub appears to be another leading indicator.

She went from being ranked 92nd in the world on the site in March 2019 to 14th at press time with more than 464 million video views and 453K subscribers—up from 75K subscribers and 92 million views just two years ago.

She completed six scenes for Brazzers during her Female Performer of the Year eligibility period and has racked up 13 overall since her debut on the heavyweight site in March 2019.

“Emily has been a fan favorite on ZZ since her very first release in 2019,” Ryan Hogan, product director for pay-sites services who oversees content acquisition for Brazzers, tells AVN. “She is a special talent who has turned out every type of performance for us, always going the extra mile and surprising our viewers.

“The best part is she is just getting started, and we hope to continue working with her for many years to come.”

So does Holly Ruprecht, the director of marketing subscriptions for Playboy, who selected Willis to kick off the Playboy Plus All Star of the Month feature in February.

In images shot by Agent X, Willis appeared in two photosets—one with a ballet theme and the other with a sports theme—on PlayboyPlus.

“We wanted to work with Emily because she represents everything a Playboy All Star is,” Ruprecht tells AVN. “She is a smart businesswoman who has also become a big brand. She seems to really enjoy what she does and fully embraces her sexuality.”


Willis says she learned how to strive for a goal during her formative years. She started taking ballet classes at 5, training twice a week.

“And then in high school in dance company it was three, four times a week and our coach was really strict on us,” she explains. “It was always about getting good grades, being on top of yourself, taking care of yourself.

“So I think that really carried along with me in the future for any other job that I had. But I loved it. Dancing and being on a stage in the mornings from 5 a.m. until 9 a.m.—I think that really helped me get an athletic body maybe, and then like always working out. That is really important, too.

“And being more flexible has helped me with my scenes. Like I’ll do the splits on a dick or bending over. It’s definitely helped me to my advantage.”

When she danced, Willis wanted to “be the best or in the front.” When the manager of the local burger joint told her she had to be 16 to work there, she went back five more times to ask him until he gave her a chance.

“I’ve definitely always been a big believer in working until you get something,” Willis continues. “Or if I want it, I’m going to get it. And if you work hard enough you can do those things.”

A proud Capricorn who is in tune with astrology, Willis says she's intrigued by “how we’re affected by the Moon sometimes” and the planetary system.

“I’m very into reading my horoscope and I like to learn about other people’s signs because it helps me get a better feel for kind of who they are—which is probably terrible to do—but it’s cool to understand people and myself,” Willis adds. “And I read a lot about my sign and it all checks out.”

What also holds true is that Willis' profile is only growing. In the April edition of Hustler magazine, she was named the Hustler Honey, appearing in an exquisite photo set lensed by Holly Randall.

Whatever the situation, Willis adapts and thrives. Her ability to keep her "eye on the prize” throughout the ups and downs of 2020 led her to a better understanding of the woman she has become on and off the set.

“I found that doing this job in general has taught me to really empower myself, my sexuality and who I am,” Willis says. “It’s taught me to not be afraid to go out there and to get as crazy as I can on camera and to love myself. It has taught me so much.

“It’s the most empowering thing to get out there and have sex in front of everyone and winning Female Performer of the Year definitely is the best feeling in the world.

“That itself is so empowering and motivating because it’s feeling like I am Female Performer of the Fucking Year and I’m going to go out there and be one.”





Photography by Keith Ryan