Why Awards Can Be Bad for Your Health

We just ended the 2024 award show circuit and, no surprise, there were a lot of hurt feelings. People tweeting about their disappointment for not winning an award – as if awards are somehow undeniable proof of one’s excellence over others.

Any award chosen by a group of people is subjective. Hands down. Any award given by an entity that accepts advertising dollars from people nominated for awards is subjective. This is true of the Grammy’s, the Oscars, and yes – even porn awards.

Some of you may or may not know, that Shawshank Redemption never won a single Academy Award, yet many consider it the greatest film of all time. The Academy did not vote that way. Who is ultimately right? The many people that loved the film and consider it the best ever? Or the Academy that preferred Forrest Gump that yera? My therapist would have said – “both are right, because it is subjective. People’s opinions are formed through life experience and personal influence.” And that, my friends, is the truth.

So, when you don’t win an award because a team of 20 people chose someone else – try and remember that. What about your 20,000 or 200,000 fans that disagree? Are the 20 people more right than those 20 to 200,000?

I haven’t shared this – EVER – publicly, but I feel maybe now is the time to do it.
Back in 2011, I wrote a script that won me my first AVN award. It was such an honor at the time. I was so ecstatic and overjoyed! I won a lot of awards in my first five years (directing, writing, feminist porn awards, critic awards, body of work awards, etc.). I was interviewed by major publications. I was an early call by AVN or XBIZ to attend panels (many). I felt a bit like the industry’s darling – and I loved the attention. I really did. I loved winning. I loved going up on stage and feeling popular. Feeling popular and liked is so validating —– when you’re a person who doesn’t know how to validate yourself. Because here’s what happened after those wins and in the years that followed.

I felt empty. What now? What next? How do I up this ante? How does it get better?

A year after my award-winning phase, I took a job at another studio. There were far lower budgets, a different crew, less shoot time. I would do my best writing a script in 14 pages that made “sense” – that had arc and some kind of meaning – and I tried to compete with studios getting 16+ times the budget I was. But I couldn’t compete. I couldn’t write anything that had any meat or substance and “acting roles” I’d been so known to write well, they were now skeletons of a truly nuanced character. I was quickly losing clout. And eventually – I felt invisible, overshadowed by more talented, more innovated people. I stopped getting calls from AVN to do panels. Nobody interviewed me anymore. Nobody reviewed my movies. It was as if anything I accomplished had been forgotten by other people who were now in the limelight I had once enjoyed.

I fell into a very serious depression. This is something only a handful of people really know. I felt so empty. I felt like a failure. People who had once wanted to work with me, canceled my shoots to work for other studios and directors. Some of my crew left me to go work for bigger and better directors and studios. I was a has-been. Or so I thought.

It wasn’t until I sought therapy and started working for Bellesa that I realized, I was
the same talent I had been in 2011 – maybe even moreso because I’d directed, produced, and written so much more by this point. The awards had actually set me up for a reality I could never sustain and they were a false validation of my worth. I’m not saying this to be hokey or to say that everyone deserves a participation trophy – because I don’t believe that either. I guess what I’m saying is that winning those awards and then not winning them has taught me one thing – nothing is more validating than a belief in your own worth. No award can give you a sustaining feeling of accomplishment and pride than a true love and appreciation of yourself.

Many of you reading this have survived far worse than not winning an award. That, my friends, is true accomplishment, true success, and reason to give yourself a big fucking standing ovation.