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Jenna Presley, the former adult star who rejected porn for God

Jenna Presley or Brittni Ruiz was an 18-year-old college student working as a topless dancer in Mexico when a producer asked if she’d like to do “romance” movies. Although she suspected they were adult films, she was lured by the prospect of making big money and was soon earning about $900 for each film, shooting three scenes a day. A year later, in 2006, she came in second on porn icon Jenna Jameson’s Playboy TV reality show Jenna’s American Sex Star, and in 2010, Maxim magazine dubbed her one of the world’s top 12 female porn stars.

Now known as Brittni De La Mora, a former porn star who earned more than $40,000 a month has found her new calling as an evangelical preacher. Brittni De La Mora quit the porn industry in 2012 after filming “hundreds” of scenes under the stage name Jenna Presley. After battling drug addiction and suicidal thoughts, she found God — simultaneously falling in love with her pastor, Richard De La Mora. The pair, both 31, married in 2016 and now preach together at the Cornerstone Church in San Diego.

“I used to be named one of the world’s hottest porn stars,” she told Barcroft Media. “I tried to quit the porn industry without the help of God, and the reality is I couldn’t do it because God and porn don’t mix.” Ms De La Mora said she made “probably upwards of 275 to 375 movies, I don’t know, hundreds of movies”.

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“I was making about $US 30,000 ($A41,000) a month, I had a brand new Mercedes and every new Louis Vuitton purse and Christian Louboutin heels, like I really played the part,” she said. “I was earning a lot of money and I was struggling to pay my rent because I had a really, really bad drug addiction. I would spend thousands and thousands of dollars on drugs a week.”

Ms De La Mora said she had her first brush with the sex industry at just 16 on a trip to Mexico with friends, where she got drunk at a strip club. “I had blond hair and braces and they just put me on the stage that night,” she said.

She began stripping to pay her way through university but dropped out after being recruited by two porn producers. She started using drugs after being told by a director she was too fat and needed to lose weight. “I started off with cocaine but then eventually I was battling heroin,” she said. “I was also battling with severe suicidal thoughts.”

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She became suicidal and first tried to leave the industry in 2009 while withdrawing from heroin. She began attending church with her grandparents. De La Mora soon drifted back into porn, however, and was traumatized further after witnessing her boyfriend being stabbed to death by a motorcycle gang. She entered into an abusive relationship with a pimp and accepted some more lucrative gigs to pay the bills before realizing she had hit rock bottom.

Fearing she might take her own life, Ms De La Mora reached out to her grandmother, who moved her from Los Angeles to live with her in San Diego. It was her grandmother who convinced her to start going to church.

“I started going to church and I went to go film a porn scene in Las Vegas,” she said. “I brought my Bible and on the airplane. I open up Revelation 2:20 and it says ‘I have this against you, you tolerate that woman named Jezebel and she leads my people into sexual immorality … I’ve given her time to repent and if she doesn’t repent we’ll cast her children and her into a sick bed.’

“I was just like oh my goodness, oh my God, I’m so sorry. So I ended up going to set that day and I quit the porn industry, I filmed my very last scene that day and I was just done.” When she informed the director of what would be the final film she was scheduled to shoot in Las Vegas, he reacted with disbelief.

De La Mora finally left the industry in 2012 to devote herself to God. Ms De La Mora said over the next year she “started to fall in love with the preacher”. In 2016, she married Richard De La Mora, a pastor with whom she now ministers to young adults.

De La Mora’s exit from her treacherous existence was more unsettling than she anticipated, however. She had to change her phone number and delete her Twitter account with 80,000 followers. She remembers being distressed that none of her industry friends and co-workers supported her.

“My big goal now is just to let people know there is a God who loves them no matter what they’ve done,” she said. “It’s not about judgment or control, and we are not profiting from this.” She can’t escape the fact, however, that her exploits as Jenna Presley will be immortalized on the Internet. It’s something she has learned to accept, along with the inevitable media reminders.

“I’ve made decisions that have repercussions that will last a lifetime, and when I have children old enough to go out into the world, I have to explain that their mom was a porn star,” she said. “People will always talk. I’ve seen the ‘Jenna’s gone from nude to prude’ stories. I just know what I am called to God. Nothing stops me from doing what I know God wants me to do now.”

“I’m now a real estate agent and I make just as much as I did in the porn industry in a month in real estate and I don’t have to take my clothes off, so I mean I think I’m much happier now,” she said. The couple lead the young adult ministry at their church while Ms De La Mora attends porn conventions to speak with performers.

“When I go to the porn conventions we set up a huge booth that says ‘Jesus Loves Porn Stars’. I get a really good reaction,” she said. “I absolutely hate when religious people demonise porn stars. That is not okay. When I was in the porn industry I actually used to get people that would have signs up that would say, ‘You are going to hell’, and to be honest, that does not work.”

Mr. De La Mora said there was “never a time I wanted to call off the relationship”. “I believe when you love somebody, you should love everything about them,” he said. “I’m beyond proud of my wife’s transformation. It just moves my heart because here was a woman who was once lost and now she is found.”

At the start of the year, the porn industry found itself in crisis after five young women died in the space of 12 weeks. Olivia Lua, 23, was found dead in a California rehab facility in January, just weeks after 20-year-old Olivia Nova died from an urinary infection in her Las Vegas apartment. Canadian porn star August Ames, 23, took her own life in December after copping online abuse for refusing to shoot a sex scene with a bisexual actor. Yuri Love, 31, died of an apparent overdose in her California apartment the same month, and in November 35-year-old Canadian porn star Shyla Stylez was found unresponsive in her bed at her mother’s home.

“If you get into this business really young, and you are already predisposed to your own personal issues of depression or whatever else, working in porn may intensify your issues,” adult actor Raven Hart told Hollywood Life at the time. “As someone who is already predisposed to a drug problem or depression, or another mental health issue, working in porn will only makes things worse or more difficult. Your issues will be intensified.”