Doing the Work: Best New Starlet Gianna Dior on What Drives Her

This feature is the cover story of the April issue of AVN magazine. Click here to see the digital edition.

LOS ANGELES—Gianna Dior likes to joke that she has “a vagina of steel.”

“I literally want to work seven days a week,” Dior says.

“I’m telling myself I need to take one day off a week but I don’t know if I can. Mentally and physically it might drive me insane that I’m not working every single day.”

It was that kind of mindset that fueled the 22-year-old performer’s terrific run all the way to the AVN Awards stage, where she won the 2020 Best New Starlet trophy on January 25 inside The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

Dior received the adult industry’s highest honor for a new girl on the strength of more than 200 performing credits since her debut in May 2018—to go with several monthly accolades that kept the buzz going for her from the moment she arrived in Porn Valley.

The breakout star—who is the 2019 Penthouse Pet of the Year—also received another major award at the 37th annual ceremony, accepting the Best Boy/Girl Sex Scene statuette for her electric tryst with three-time AVN Male Performer of the Year Mick Blue in “Unlocked” for

It marked the first time the same girl took the gold in Best New Starlet and Best Boy/Girl Sex Scene in the same year since Jenna Jameson did it in 1996, when the category was called Best Couples Sex Scene.

“I was hoping for like Best Blowbang or Best Showcase. … Those are important, but these two—especially to get them in the same year—I’m very proud of myself and very honored to have done that. Like holy shit,” Dior says.

Wearing a royal blue Dodgers baseball cap turned backward, a casual black dress and a grey jacket, Dior is keeping a low profile on this sunny, 65-degree afternoon as we chat in the back of a coffee shop in the San Fernando Valley. Just three weeks removed from her crowning moment, she says her accomplishment is giving her even more motivation to go forward.

“Here we go again,” Dior says. “I’m already thinking about 2021. I’m going to work even harder this year. I’m really excited for the projects that I have already planned. It’s going to be insane and hopefully I’ll add a couple more to that. We’ll see.”

Dior, who at press time in mid-February already was booked into April, says it took a while for what happened in Vegas to finally hit her.

“It didn’t sink in that I won both awards until like last week,” she admits. “And I was in the bathtub and I just started crying.

“Like… I really did that. I was like, I was in college working two jobs and it just happened for me.

“I think that’s what sets me apart from a lot of other porn girls is they went looking for it. And for me it kind of just fell into my lap and I was like, ‘I’m either gonna do it big or I’m not gonna do it at all.’ And I’m shocked by my success, honestly.”

Dior continues, “Like I know I work my ass off. But not many people get the opportunities that I’ve gotten. To be with [agent Mark] Spiegler, to get Trophy Girl and to get all these Girl of the Month titles and to win these awards I feel like I was meant to do this for sure. This doesn’t just happen to anybody.

“I can’t even just give myself all the credit. It’s everybody that’s helped me. It’s been insane. Yeah I just broke down the other night. I was like, ‘This is what I do now and I’m fucking killing it.’”

Just ask Colin Allerton, the vice president of Adult Empire, the online retail heavyweight that in January won its 13th AVN Award for Best Web Retail Store.

Allerton’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based firm tracks the performance of industry newcomers and seasoned porn girls alike through several sales and marketing metrics that create a weekly list of the Most Popular Performers. Dior in February was tracking in the Top 5.

“Our customers absolutely love her,” Allerton tells AVN. “To get in that Top 5 people are definitely searching her, downloading her scenes and buying lots of her movies.”

It took Dior only about six months to crack the Top 100 on Adult Empire, which cited her as a newbie to watch in its 2019 year-in-porn preview.

“There’s certain things we look at that kind of give us a pretty clear picture,” Allerton says. “One of the things we remember that’s kind of striking with her is first off all she’s a Spiegler Girl and that certainly plays into us seeing potential in her.

“In general the girls who sign with Spiegler—not that there are not other agents who don’t do a great job—but he’s one who is very picky about who he chooses, so his girls are very business driven.

“We also look at box-cover appearances. When we were looking at her first 10 movies, seven or eight of them she’s on the cover. She was not always the only girl on the cover, but she was on it. When you see trends like that from top studios like New Sensations or Jules Jordan you just realize they really put extra value on it, and there’s going to be interest.

“Because she’s just naturally beautiful. She’s a classic beauty, no tattoos. She definitely has that appeal to a lot of different people. There was a couple girls that were really super popular this year and she was definitely in that group of girls.

“She was already there, but she moved up within the Top 10 and I think the AVN Award did help to send it a little higher up.”


Dior, whose monthly titles include Cherry Pimps Cherry of the Month, Girlsway Girl of the Month, Mofos Girl of the Month, Bang! Ambassador of the Month and Vixen Angel, tells AVN she has learned a lot about herself since she started her porn career.

“I’m not competing with other people; I’m competing with myself. I’ve discovered that,” she says. “I want to be the best I can be. I want to do better than my last scene.”

She says she’s also learned “how to be alone.”

“I didn’t have many friends—until I was friends with Whitney Wright I had basically nobody,” Dior says. “I had like flaky porn friends. Spiegler told me from the very beginning. He’s like, ‘These girls are not your friends. Do not trust them. Do not think that you’re best friends with them.’

“And I learned quickly. And I learned to stay away and that has also been a huge part of my success is that I don’t get caught up in a lot of the drama and the who’s hanging out with who, who’s doing this…The dating thing I fucked up a couple times. I learned. And I’m like I don’t need to be with anybody. I need to focus on my career. And ever since I decided that my headspace is clear.”

She adds, “I feel like I’ve matured a lot. I feel like I was a baby when I started porn; I was 20…I’m 22 now. I turned 21 the week after I started porn. I’m still a baby.”

Dior, who is Italian and Native American and will turn 23 on May 12, says she would not have gained this much life experience in such a short time in another pursuit.

“I think had I done any other job or been in college or done anything else I would’ve never had the growth that I’ve had in porn,” Dior says. “It makes you grow up very quickly—deal with the real world very quickly. I think that’s what I’m most thankful for with porn. You have to have your shit together.

“If you fuck up one time, especially with Spiegler… you have to be responsible and mature and take care of everything. Be organized.”


Dior, who decided to Uber instead of drive today, appears at ease on one of her rare days off—she’s running errands that include stops at an industry testing facility, a doctor’s appointment and a second interview after this one. She recalls how her celebration after the awards ceremony was rather subdued.

She changed out of her custom-made, emerald green evening gownthat she designed herselfinto sweats and met her fellow performers from the Spiegler Girls agency at the 24-7 diner, Mr. Lucky’s, in the Hard Rock casino lobby.

“And I was so exhausted,” Dior says. “I was starving myself all week so I could fit into this dress. I think I got pancakes or something. I had my hair in a bun and I looked horrible. Everybody was like, ‘You crackhead.’”

She declined the multitude of offers to continue partying into the pre-dawn hours.

“I went straight back to my room and I just crashed,” she says. “I did not party at all.”

It was no wonder why, she says, admitting her adrenaline was going full speed before the show started.

“I guess I don’t do awards shows very well,” Dior says with a laugh. “I was so nervous. I was like I really, really, really want to win. And I was just like a nervous wreck—like I was shaking. Also nobody warned me about the protesters outside [the Hard Rock]. Everyone was like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a thing every year.’”

When Dior attended her first AVN Awards in 2019 she was one of the official Trophy Girls and didn’t participate in the yearly ritual of waiting in line for the red carpet by first walking out to the parking lot before re-entering. When she got inside the venue, her agent did some maneuvering.

“Spiegler like moved our seats around so I could sit next to him because I was like literally having a panic attack,” she says. “He was like, ‘Calm down. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t win.’ I was like, ‘To me, it is.’ If I didn’t win…I don’t know. I knew I would’ve been very, very upset.

“As soon as I won I was like, ‘Alright, I can breathe now.’ And back to back, I won. I was sitting down for like less than 10 minutes and I won another one and I was like, ‘Holy shit.’ I was like this is the best day ever. It was really good.”

Spiegler, the porn super agent who now has represented five AVN Best New Starlet winners—all since 2012—recalls how Dior was not her usual jovial self as the festivities got underway.

“She just sat there, she was really quiet,” Spiegler tells AVN. “Normally she’s a little more boisterous. Then about 20-30 minutes before that award was announced she went and had a glass of wine and she calmed down some. I don’t know what she would’ve done had she not won. She was really determined…”

The six-time AVN Male Performer of the Year Manuel Ferrara agrees. The AVN Hall of Fame stud from Gagny, France—who also calls the shots for his own productions in between performing for a select few other studios—estimates he shot Dior at least 10 times so far with more on the way.

“As a director and performer, to me she’s like perfect,” Ferrara tells AVN. “She was like made for porn. She’s beautiful. She loves sex. She’s always happy to be on set. She’s professional. She shows up on time—all the things that make a director and producer’s life easy and a performer’s life easy.”

Ferrara says her Best New Starlet nod was hard-fought and well-deserved.

“Every year I feel like the Best New Starlet is always the stiffest competition, but it just made sense,” Ferrara says. “That was an easy callout at the end of the day. She’s been in the industry over a year; she’s been one of the busiest new girls of 2019, but also with a performance that sets her apart.

“It’s one thing to be busy, it’s another thing to be busy and have great performances every time. To me there are different levels in this industry. Everyone can look good with other great performers, but she can make someone who is an average performer look like a great performer and that’s what sets people apart.

“She’s on that Angela White, Abella Danger, Lena Paul-type of level, where she’s just… it was just evident from the beginning that she was gonna be a huge star.”


Dior admits her second award for Best Boy/Girl caught her completely off guard. Of the 120-plus AVN Award categories, it’s Best Boy/Girl scene that always generates the most pre-nominations. In 2020 there were more than 430—and only 10 of those scenes got nominated.

“I totally did not even expect that one. Like I was thinking Best New Starlet I have a pretty good chance. I’m like, ‘We’ll see.’ I didn’t even consider Best Boy/Girl. There’s no way,” Dior says. “When they called my name I was looking around and I was like, ‘They said me, right?’ I saw it on the screen I was like, ‘Oh my god, wow.’ I totally did not expect to win that one at all.

“It was a very pleasant surprise. To me I feel like that’s the most important award, scene-wise. … I was like, out of all the scenes of 2019 I had the best one. That scene was actually so fun to shoot.”

In the scene that was lensed by now two-time AVN Director of the Year Kayden Kross, Blue and Dior share a romantic dance in a tender but dramatic build-up to the sex.

“Kayden was like, ‘OK, you’re going to do this whole dance. She choreographed the whole thing and I was like, ‘Kayden, we don’t know how to dance,’” Dior confesses. “I’m like, ‘You can try to teach us,’ but oh my god, it took forever. We were like laughing the whole time and nobody could take it seriously.”

Dior started out the scene wearing her college sweatshirt from her days as an Auburn co-ed. She graduated from high school in Alabama, studying Psychology at Auburn University before getting into porn.

“Kayden sent me the wardrobe that day and I guess she changed her mind last minute of what she wanted and I had nothing. She wanted all like loungewear … and I had all like porny-wear and young-girl stuff,” Dior explains. “I had my whole suitcase with me. She was like, ‘You don’t have one sweatshirt?’ And I was like, ‘Nope.’

“And I looked in the trunk of my car and I had my Auburn sweatshirt. And I was like, ‘Can I wear this? Am I gonna get sued?’ She was like, ‘No, it doesn’t say Auburn University. It says Auburn.’ So I’m gonna wear it and Auburn’s gonna go crazy.

“They still mention it all the time on Twitter. They call it ‘The Auburn Scene.’ That’s the one that won. … I love that it just wasn’t planned at all. I was like, ‘This is the only thing I have.’ She’s just like, ‘Put it on.’”

It was just that type of year for Dior, who worked for every top studio in porn multiple times en route to a banner season in which she received 11 AVN nominations—the most of any new female performer.

In addition Best Boy/Girl Sex Scene, she entered Vegas in the running for seven other scene honors—Best Three-way Sex Scene, Best All-Girl Group Sex Scene, Best Girl/Girl Sex Scene, Best POV Sex Scene, Best Oral Sex Scene, Best Group Sex Scene and Best Blowbang Scene.

Spiegler recalls Dior’s ambition during their phone conversations before she even got to Los Angeles.

“Gianna had a really good chance of doing well,” Spiegler says. “She’s also really determined. She called me up and said she’s leaving Florida Saturday morning and got here on a Monday. She did what she said and started working since then.

“Sometimes I would even say she’s a little too determined… She listens to advice. She was willing to do what she had to do to do well. She did specific projects, worked days when she might be tired. She’s totally committed to continue doing well. She’s like, ‘Put me in coach, tell me what to do and I’ll go do it.’”

Spiegler continues, “I’ve come to realize a long time ago that looks are like at least 50-60 percent of it—and she definitely has the looks—but she’s actually a smart kid, too.”


Dior says she has received a lot of congratulations as news got around of her victories—she even posted a photo of herself with her trophies on her personal Facebook and Instagram pages.

"I don’t put anything porn on there really. But I was like I just won two awards. I’m gonna brag a little,” she says. “So I put it on there, me posing with my awards and me on red carpet and I was like ‘I won big at AVN’ and I got a bunch of congratulations. I was surprised. A lot of people were proud of me. Here I am.”

A military kid who was born in Fremont, Calif., a city in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dior moved when she was still a baby and went on to live in Indiana, three different cities in Texas, New York, Maryland and Andalusia, Ala., a small town about two hours south of Auburn where she went to high school.

She also lived in Illinois for a span when she was 17.

“When my parents found out I was having sex and had lost my virginity I got shipped off to Illinois,” Dior recalls. “My mom told me I was going to visit my dad for like a weekend and I got sent there and I was stuck there for six months. I was like, ‘Did they not think that I could have sex in Illinois?’ I like to tease my mom now, ‘Like that’s the reason I do porn because you shipped me off to Illinois.’”

A former waitress at a sushi restaurant and receptionist at an eye doctor’s office, Dior launched her porn career in Miami, where she worked for about a month before coming to L.A.

“I’ve lived so many places, but this is where I feel most at home,” she says, adding she’ll be leaving the U.S. for the first time in May to vacation in Paris for her birthday and also plans to stop in Italy.

Dior said backstage at the AVN Awards there would be “no Best New Starlet curse” when it comes to her—in a reference to how past winners have not maintained their momentum and in many cases left the business. Instead, Dior is already is eyeing her next moves.

“I’m hoping to get a feature this year,” she says. “I really want to do one for Deeper. It’s kind of a far-fetched idea, but I feel like that would really give me a boost up in having a good chance for Female Performer of the Year. … That's the goal this year.”


Photography by Keith Ryan