Terrell Jermaine Starr

LOS ANGELES—Misty Stone has only voted twice in her life, but as a black woman at the top of the porn game who is transitioning from actress to entrepreneur, she feels she can’t afford to sit out Tuesday’s California primary—or any election anymore.

Advertisement

“Now, being a businesswoman, I have to pay attention,” Stone, 30, told me during a chat at her apartment a few days before the primary. “It’s a new chapter in my life.”

She’s voting for Hillary Clinton because she wants to see a woman in the White House. She also wants her vote to be a symbol of defiance of Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Advertisement

“If I support a Trump, it’s gonna be a Teanna, but that’s about it,” she said. (Teanna Trump is a porn actress she mentors.) “I feel like if we’re gonna have a Trump as a president, TMZ is gonna be the new news. It’s a mess.”

Stone’s personal growth and legendary trajectory in the porn industry both factor into her political maturity as she enters her 30s. She’s worked in the industry 11 years now, an eternity for any performer—most quit after a few months—and damn-near unheard of for black women. Stone has had to fight constantly to earn her worth in an industry that favors blue-eyed white women and affords few opportunities for black women to stack paper. Porn producers don’t like shooting black-on-black porn (it doesn’t sell), so most of her scenes are interracial. That does sell.

Misty Stone holding newspapers of Obama’s 2008 win, mailed to her by her mother.
Terrell Jermaine Starr

This has never sat well with Stone, so she’s starting her own production company, exclusively shooting black-on-black porn. She’s fronting the enterprise with her own cash, just as most black women do when they start businesses in other fields. For most actresses at her level, porn companies would have offered to finance the venture, but that doesn’t happen for black women, Stone told me.

Sponsored

“I’m not getting that opportunity,” she said. “So, I’m going to take the opportunity, make something a masterpiece, and present it to everyone I think I know” for distribution.

One reason she’s voting on Tuesday is to combat right-wing attacks on reproductive rights. Take Planned Parenthood: If it were defunded nationally, Stone says women working in porn would be harmed, especially those new to the industry. Stone has her own insurance and doctors now, but when she first entered the business, all she could afford for health care was Planned Parenthood.

Advertisement

“They make it to where a lot of young girls can get the help that they need and take good care of their bodies,” she said. “If we don’t have that, we get diseases, we get ovarian cancer, so many different things. Planned Parenthood prevents that. They help so many young girls who don’t know no better. So why would they want to shut that down?”

Young people, especially those between the ages of 18 and 24, don’t vote at nearly the same rates as their parents. Stone has only voted twice; the last was for Barack Obama in 2008. When I asked her why, she chalked it up to disinterest and not knowing how much the electoral process affected her life.

“We don’t care. We just don’t think it applies to us. ‘Aww, that ain’t got shit to do with me,’” she said. “We just wanna smoke weed and not care, but, for some of us, a light bulb goes off when you hear knowledge and you’re like, ‘Wow, is that’s what’s really going on in the world?”

Advertisement

Stone’s light-bulb moment came when she started her company.

“It’s so much with taxes and things I just didn’t know about,” she said. “And I’m still not as knowledgeable as I should be. I know that. So I’m gonna start paying attention a little bit more.”

I wanted to talk to her because she’s always come across as thoughtful in interviews, but I had never heard her talk about politics, even though many people would look at her career as a black porn star as the epitome of political resilience.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Ifeoma Ike, co-founder of Black and Brown People Vote, which educates minorities about their power in electoral politics, says young people like Stone are, indeed, politically engaged, even if they don’t always vote. The conversation Stone and I had had, over a bottle of Patron and a joint (I stuck with the Patron), was a form of engagement, Ike said. That Stone is going to vote Tuesday is just another form of participation, and a symbol of her political maturity.

“We have these conversations every day and, in a lot of ways, we are not seen as having these conversations every day because there is a wrongful correlation that voting equals awareness, and that’s not the right equation,” she said.

Indeed, it isn’t. Stone has always been aware of her currency as a black woman in porn and in life. When she votes in California’s primary, her ballot will simply be her way of exercising it electorally. As a black woman, she is learning that she is a member of a bloc that votes at a higher rate than any other ethnic group.

Advertisement

When I asked what she wanted from Clinton in exchange for her support, she didn’t have an answer. But that’s OK. What’s most important is that she votes, and learns how it feels to enter the ballot booth as a more conscientious adult, Stone told me. She said she plans to encourage her friends to follow her example.

“I’m getting older,” she said, “and I just feel like my little one vote matters.”

Terrell Jermaine Starr is National Political Correspondent for Fusion. You can follow him on Twitter @Russian_Starr.