Michele "Midori" Watley in 2006
July 19, 1968
|Known for||First African-American woman to win an AVN Award|
|Relatives||Jody Watley Sister|
Michele Watley, better known by her stage name Midori (born July 19, 1968), is an American singer, dancer, model, actress and former pornographic actress. She was inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame in 2009. She was the first African-American woman to win an AVN award, when she was named "Best Supporting Actress" in 2001. Watley was also named one of the top 10 "hottest black porn stars" of all time by Complex and The Independent named her "the queen of the black hardcore market."
Early life and career
Michele Watley was born in Durham, North Carolina. Watley has a brother and a sister. Her sister is Jodi Watley. When Watley was a toddler, her family relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, followed by Chicago, Illinois. Her grandfather and father were a ministers. Her parents divorced when she was twelve, and Watley and her sister, Jodi, moved to California. Watley called her childhood "sheltered" and that her parent's were "strict." When she was in junior high school, she said she was "mortified" seeing girls kissing their boyfriends. Eventually, Watley turned into what she called "a wild child."
As a teenager, Watley started dancing, performing hip hop, ballet and jazz styles. She studied theater in college and performed in plays. As a young adult, she lived in England for nine months and in 1986, she attended dance school in France. Watley was also a hair model for Vidal Sassoon, as well as a backup singer and dancer. As Michele Watley, she acted in commercials and modeled in Elle. She did not pursue modeling full time, as she was "not tall enough to be a super model."
After her role in Coming to America, she changed her stage name to Midori. She worked as an exotic dancer for four years and in 1995 she started performing in hardcore pornography. Her first scene was with Jake Steed. She didn't perform in films another year. Watley's rationale for entering the adult film industry was to increase the representation of women of color in the industry, which has historically been white.
Michele "Midori" Watley, 2002 interview with John Rodeo
In the 1990s, Watley began directing pornographic films and started back up singing, including for Kid Rock in 1999. She initially tried to avoid appearing in stereotypical Black themed films and early in her career was mostly featured in interracial scenes in white produced films. Watley eventually started working with Black male performers because "didn't want to have Black guys thinking I didn't do them too." She became an spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition. She was co-featured, as Michele, in the 1997 stripper documentary The Unveiling, alongside Dixie Evans and Eldad Sahar. Variety described Watley as "a petite African-American single mom who does an athletic pole-climbing act." The Los Angeles Times described Watley as being "loaded with personality, and you hope that she fulfills her dream of moving into mainstream entertainment as a singer or actress."
In 1997, she recorded a duet with Oran Juice Jones at Tommy Boy Records and performed on tour with Puff Daddy and Lil' Kim. The next year, Spike Lee offered Watley a role in He Got Game - as a prostitute - a role she declined because she did not want to play a sex worker. Watley was featured in the British documentary Glamour Girlz on Channel 4, which documents Black women in the adult film industry. Watley was featured in the show alongside Charmaine Sinclair, who had relocated to Los Angeles from London to further her career, and porn legend Ron Jeremy. In the series, Watley helps Sinclair expand her career into the adult film industry. Watley also discusses her desire to move into music, and is seen meeting by phone with Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew to discuss prospects.
In 1999, she had one track entitled 5-10-15-20, which she wrote on the Porn to Rock compilation, which was released on Tommy Boy Records. The single features Oran Juice Jones. In an interview with the National Post, Watley said that she was pursuing a career in hip hop by using her fame as a porn star. Then National Post music critic Finbarr O'Reilly called Watley's single on the compilation "one of the better tracks." To support the compilation, Watley toured with fellow porn performers Madison Stone, Johnny Toxic, and Nina Whett, including performing at South by Southwest. That same year, Kid Rock produced the track F.M.A. for the Deep Porn compilation with Midori on vocals. The New York Daily News described the single as "moaning unprintable pillow talk over a backdrop of distorted guitars and hip-hop drums." She also appeared on the cover of Eminem and Royce da 5'9"'s side project Bad Meets Evil's single "Nuttin' to Do". Watley has a second track, "Zap", produced by Wide (a duo consisting of Liquid Todd and Dr. Luke). Watley credits Madonna and Lil' Kim as opening the door for sex positive performers, and sex workers, to perform music in mainstream entertainment.
Watley appeared on the cover of Andrew Dice Clay's album Face Down, Ass Up in 2000. She also released her first album, the dance LP Midori (AKA) Michele Watley. In 2001, she won the "Best Supporting Actress" video award at the AVN Awards, making her the first African-American woman to ever since an AVN award. That same year, she released the rap album Miss Judged, which featured rapper AMG In 2001, she appeared in the video for Coo Coo Cal's "My Projects." She toured internationally for her music, including New Zealand and Europe. She starred in the Polish porn Big Sister and toured Poland. Watley appeared as singer and MC on wrapper Warrior's single "Who's Hustlin' Who" in 2003. Watley was described as "decent but uninteresting" on the single by Rap Reviews. Around this time, she also began exploring a comeback. During her exploration of potential roles, Watley expressed issues with being offered primarily roles for older women in porn, including as MILFs.
In a 1997 interview with Black Video Illustrated, Watley said she was straight, however, in the 1998, documentary The Unveiling, Watley identified as bisexual. She is monogamous. In 1999, Watley was in a relationship with Kid Rock. The relationship ended after three months, with both Rock and Watley citing Rock's busy schedule as the reason for the break up. Watley discovered she was pregnant after her relationship with Rock ended, and she decided not to have the baby.
Watley does not like watching pornography. It took considerable time for her family to accept that she was an adult film entertainer. She took her mother with her to an adult film award ceremony in an attempt to convince her mother that the adult film industry "also holds formal events where people dress up in black ties and fancy dresses."
Awards and nominations
|1998||AVN Award||Nominated||Best New Starlet||N/A|
|NightMoves Award||Won||Best Actress (Editor’s Choice)||N/A|
|1999||AVN Award||Nominated||Female Performer of the Year||N/A|
|2001||Won||Best Supporting Actress - Video||American Booty|
|Nominated||Best Couples Sex Scene - Video (with Dillon Day)||West Side|
|XRCO Award||Nominated||Actress (Single Performance)|
|2009||AVN Award||Won||AVN Hall of Fame||N/A|
- 2003: "Who's Hustlin' Who" - Warrior featuring Midori
- 2002: Perfect Weapon, Warrior, "Who's Hustlin' Who" feat. Midori
- 2000: Deep Porn, Various Artists, "F.M.A." - Kid Rock featuring Midori, "Zap" - Wide featuring Midori
- 1999: Porn to Rock, Various Artists, "5,10,15,20" - Midori featuring Oran Juice Jones
- 1997: Player's Call, Oran "Juice" Jones, "Let's Stay Together" (featuring Midori)
- 2000: Face Down, Ass Up - Andrew Dice Clay
- 1999: "Nuttin' To Do," Bad Meets Evil (Royce/Eminem)
Music video appearances:
- Miller-Young, Mireille. "A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography." Durham: Duke University Press. ISBN 0822375915
- "Midori Interview". Johnrodeo.com. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- Lindemulder, Janine. "Weekendowa Bezsensja: Muzyka 18+, czyli muzyka a branża porno (3)". Esensja (in Polish). Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- 2009 AVN Award-Winners Announced, by David Sullivan January 11, 2009, AVN
- "The Top 50 Hottest Black Porn Stars Of All Time". Complex. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
- Judah, Hettie (29 November 1998). "Interview: Charmaine Sinclair - All glammed out and nowhere to go". The Independent. Archived from the original on 22 June 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- "Makin' It With Midori". Black Video Illustrated (10). 1997.
- O'Reilly, Finbarr. "She sings, too". The National Post. Retrieved 12 January 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Rock's Most Embarassing Siblings". Blender (41). October 2005. p. 58. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- "Conversations with Midori". AdultFYI. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
- "Watley's Porn-Again Sister". New York Daily News. 20 February 1997. Retrieved 12 January 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- Suggs, Donald (21 October 1997). "Sex Sells". The Village Voice. p. 40.
Performers who can't-or won't-cultivate the requisite image end up in a rut of "amateur" or low-budget race productions, where they earn as little as $200 a film. "I didn't want to do any Soul Train booty movies," says 29-year-old Midori, aXa the "Black Barbie Doll;' explaining why she initially didn't pursue Black porn films. "Those aren't the ones getting adult awards or attention from the mainstream media;' says Midori, who received the Best Newcomer Award at the Atlantic City ceremony. Like most successful women of color in the industry, Midori started by doing interracial scenes in white-produced films. But in a sudden burst of racial consciousness, she went into Black porn. "I didn't want to have Black guys thinking I didn't do them too," she explains.
- "'The Unveiling': Sure-Fire Subject Has Its Charms". Los Angeles Times. 27 March 1997. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
- Audrey Thomas McCluskey (2007). Frame by Frame III: A Filmography of the African Diasporan Image, 1994-2004. Indiana University Press. p. 764. ISBN 0-253-34829-3.
- Harvey, Dennis (29 June 1998). "The Unveiling". Variety. Archived from the original on 1 October 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- "Documentary Days: The Unveiling". Newspapers.com. LA Weekly. 25 September 1997. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- Lewis, Miles Marshall (22 July 2016). "[INTERVIEW] Jody Watley: Pop's Fashionista Godmother". EBONY. Retrieved 12 January 2020.
- "Puff Daddy leads diverse evening". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved 12 January 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Bachelor bliss in drumlin country". The Irish Times. 5 December 1998. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- "Glamour Girlz". The Guide. The Guardian. 28 November 1998. p. 93. Retrieved 12 January 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- Whyte, Chris (25 March 1999). "Savor the sweet sounds of smut". The Daily Titan. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- Berry, Jahna (18 August 2000). "Wyclef Jean Raps With The Rock On Second Solo Album". MTV News. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- Guzman, Isaac (13 August 2000). "RUDE, CRUDE AND PROUD OF IT Why a new crop of rock stars is sleazing it up". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- "Releaseds This Week". More2go. Green Bay Press-Gazette. 20 July 2000. Retrieved 12 January 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
- Hip-Hop Meets Porn! By Mike Winslow 2000-08-01, AllHipHop
- CMJ Network, Inc. (July 1999). CMJ New Music Monthly. CMJ Network, Inc. pp. 79–.
- Knoxx, A. "Warrior :: The Perfect Weapon". Rap Reviews. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- Norris, Chris (December 2001). "Honky Tonk Man". SPIN. p. 102 – via Google Books.
- Daycart, Renee (October 2000). "Fellatio Angler Story". SPIN. p. 124.
- Jenkins, Sacha (October 1999). "Pimpin' Ain't Easy". SPIN. p. 96.
- Wallace, David Foster (2007). Consider the Lobster. Back Bay Books. p. 36. ISBN 0316013323.
- "Past Winner History". NightMoves. Archived from the original on December 19, 2013. Retrieved April 4, 2015.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
- "Choices". 1999 AVN Awards Show Program. Van Nuys, CA: AVN Publications, Inc. January 9, 1999.
- Steve Nelson (January 9, 2001). "The AVN Awards Show a Night to Remember". Adult Industry News. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- "2001 AVN Awards Nominations List". Archived from the original on March 9, 2001. Retrieved April 4, 2015.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
- "XRCO Award Nominations". March 19, 2001. Archived from the original on January 4, 2002. Retrieved August 15, 2015.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
- David Sullivan (January 11, 2009). "2009 AVN Award-Winners Announced". AVN. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
- Official website
- Midori on IMDb
- Midori at the Internet Adult Film Database
- Midori at the Adult Film Database
- Midori discography at Discogs
- Midori's profile at AVN