Adult entertainment awards don’t often leave much to the imagination, with trophies bestowed on performers for things like best three-way sex scene, best all-girl group sex, best anal scene, you name it. But there’s one award that raises more questions than eyebrows: the humanitarian award. It’s an unusual category not often seen at XXX awards shows, leaving one to speculate about the acts a porn star must perform to win.
“We created the award to honor the stars who go above and beyond to help the world and are a fantastic ambassador of the BBW community,” says Eliza Allure, founder of the BBW Awards show. “I think it’s a way of living your life that keeps in perspective how different and unsafe this world could be for others. Humanitarians recognize their privilege and use it as a platform to uplift others.”
Instituted in the second year of the BBW Awards to inspire and encourage fellowship within an otherwise aggressively competitive field, it’s one of the few adult trophies you might be able to share with your parents (if you were so inclined).
Being a humanitarian in the adult industry doesn’t necessarily mean free blowjob lessons and hands-on anal training for newbies, though it may not exclude that either. Reigning BBW Humanitarian of the Year Sofia Rose, by all accounts, is always ready to lend a hand. “I do a lot of mentoring and coaching for a lot of the girls, and when I say mentoring it’s not ‘let me teach you the business,’ it’s more of ‘let me mentally prepare you for what you’re going to deal with,’” says Rose.
Performers struggle to find support in a business that only further isolates them from conventional norms, drawing criticism from loved ones while also attracting death threats from morally-righteous strangers. “You cannot be in this business without a solid support system of your own. It’s usually very very hard, and especially for girls who are new in this industry, a lot of us get disconnected from our families,” says Rose, who stresses the importance of finding similar connections within the porn industry.
“The industry can be very catty but I choose to rise above it,” says Rose. “As a whole, I never want to see anyone in this industry hurt, even if I’m not on speaking terms and you need something or need to reference something, you can still ask. We’re already at a disadvantage, we don’t need to make it worse for each other.”
Rose says it feels weird to win an award for “doing what everyone should be doing, which is being a decent human being.” To reach out and help someone who may well be your competitor takes an element of selflessness, but to do so consistently just to strengthen the bonds of a marginalized community may be why Rose was awarded humanitarian of the year twice.
“When I see a girl who is truly working hard, hustling, trying to sell her products and she’s struggling just trying to make it, sometime I step in and say, ‘Here, let me help you,’ but I don’t want any clout or recognition for it because I’m just trying to help,” admits Rose. “I’m not doing anything above and beyond what anyone else would do for their friends or family. I think because people see me doing it frequently, and for people I’m not close to or obligated to, that they think it shows humanitarian attributes, I guess.”
Still perplexed with being named a “humanitarian,” Rose ponders how and why she was chosen. “It might also be word of mouth too because I’ve helped girls financially, just in pinches. I don’t do anything on a regular basis but I have a rule: if I help you I don’t want you to go on Twitter and say, ‘Oh thank you, Sofia helped me,’” says Rose. “There are two reasons I don’t want people to say that. One, if I’m being generous or charitable I don’t need that recognition, and two, I don’t need everyone coming to me for handouts. I work for my money too.”
For Rose, being successful comes with a sense of obligation to give back and pay it forward. “Every month I see girls panhandling for their rent. A lot of girls say I don’t understand but I was homeless in 2014 and living in my Jeep. So I’ve been there and those were all choices—bad choices I made that led up to that, and then there were choices that I made to get out of it,” says Rose, who now makes it her mission to empower the women of her community.
“I think the girls that come to me know I’m here to listen to their problems. Even if I can’t fix it, I listen with an open heart and mind,” says Rose. “It’s more than a financial aspect; I donate so much more than a financial aspect. There’s a lot of emotional support I put out there for people in multiple capacities. Sometimes it’s just being a strong, supportive person saying, ‘I’m here for you, I’m here to listen to you talk and I’m here to give you strength. I’m here to give you confidence, and here to give you love,’ and that sometimes is all people need.”