Sunday , February 25 2024

EXCLUSIVE: Woman who was raised in an ultra-strict Christian home reveals she became a porn star and PLAYBOY model after quitting conservative religion – and now rakes in MILLIONS as a top-earning OnlyFans star

A former Mennonite has told how she stepped away from her restrictive religious upbringing to become a highly successful porn star, who now makes millions on OnlyFans.

Sapphire Howell, 26, was raised among the conservative Christian community in North Canton, Ohio, before moving to New York and finding fame by becoming a Playboy model – under the name Elsa Jean.

Speaking exclusively to DailyMail.com, the former adult film actress explained how her childhood struggles gave her the ‘drive’ to find fame and amass her current fortune.

Reflecting on her ‘pretty strict’ upbringing, Sapphire explained: ‘I grew up Mennonite and that’s a pretty strict Christian religion… It was pretty religious, but my mom also is the one person in the family that was open. So I got the cool mom that was like, ‘Do whatever you want.”

Business moves: Sapphire Howell has reflected on how she broke free from her strict religious upbringing to become a highly adult entertainer

Business moves: Sapphire Howell has reflected on how she broke free from her strict religious upbringing to become a highly adult entertainer

Big break: The star was raised among the conservative Christian community in North Canton, Ohio, before finding fame by becoming a Playboy model - under the name Elsa Jean

Big break: The star was raised among the conservative Christian community in North Canton, Ohio, before finding fame by becoming a Playboy model – under the name Elsa Jean

‘I did see all my other family members really stick with [the religion]. And that just, for my family, was not going to happen.’

The Heartbreakers podcast host then added: ‘If I was like most people in a very trapped religious environment, it would have been a lot harder for me to change my views.’ 

Sapphire began modelling for Playboy as Elsa Jean in 2018 and soon became a favorite as she was named Playboy Muse of the Month in July 2019 and Playboy All Star of the Month in January 2022.

Prior to landing Playboy, she had been working as a stripper in Washington, D.C., when she made the move into adult films in 2015, aged 18.

Following years of creating X-rated videos, the star was one of many to find further success by sharing content on OnlyFans – an online service that allows users to charge fans for a subscription to their site, where they often release content usually deemed too provocative for other social media platforms.

In November 2022, she officially retired from the porn industry and continued to focus on making her money through OnlyFans and by minting NFTs (non-fungible tokens) – which saw her sell over $30,000 worth in just one month.

The podcast host’s previous struggles played a large part in her ability to enjoy such career growth as she explained how her childhood was made more difficult due to mental illness and poverty within her family.

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She stated: ‘My mom has struggled with a mental illness, and we just grew up in poverty so I got a job at 15. My drive has always been there to survive and to provide for my family and that’s really helped me through my career.

The former adult film actress explained how her childhood struggles gave her the 'drive' to find fame

Sapphire Howell speaking to DailyMail.com

Past life: The former adult film actress explained how her childhood struggles gave her the ‘drive’ to find fame and amass her current fortune

Popular pick: Sapphire began modelling for Playboy as Elsa Jean in 2018 and soon became a favorite as she was named Playboy Muse of the Month in July 2019

Popular pick: Sapphire began modelling for Playboy as Elsa Jean in 2018 and soon became a favorite as she was named Playboy Muse of the Month in July 2019

‘I want people to know that I didn’t just do it because I felt like doing it. I did do it as survival.’

Despite their difficulties, Sapphire revealed she has remained close to her mother and sisters, who have been supportive throughout her provocative career.

‘I don’t really talk to anybody else,’ she admitted. ‘They love me for me. Anything that I do, they find exciting. I come from a small town where nothing really exciting happens so they’re very supportive.’

Being different while growing in the strict community often meant the star stood out in ways that led to her being bullied.

However, Sapphire revealed it helped to prepare her for dealing with online trolls and negative comments that have been thrown her way.   

She explained: ‘I was bullied very badly in high school and it actually prepared me for people’s negative opinions and negative situations.

‘You would be so surprised at how many of them actually comment now and must have forgot that they treated me horribly. I like it. It motivates me even more.’

Looking back at her experience of growing in a strict faith-based community, Sapphire shared a surprising way in which it helped with her career journey.

Content creator: In November 2022, she officially retired from the porn industry and continued to focus on making her money through OnlyFans

Content creator: In November 2022, she officially retired from the porn industry and continued to focus on making her money through OnlyFans

She explained: ‘I actually think that it’s helped me be grounded. I know that it’s going to sound opposite of what I did but I did the porn for survival.

‘I genuinely think that it helped keep me grounded by having a religion growing up. Actually I use it now almost as a form of meditation to pray. I’m not necessarily religious anymore, but I like having that background.’

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In recent years, former Playboy models have spoken out about negative experiences while working for the brand. But Sapphire revealed she had been fortunate enough to avoid such issues during her years working with the company.

‘For me, it was very it was a great experience. It was very professional,’ she recalled. ‘I shot a lot for Playboy when I was young, and it helped me. It really helped with my success.’

Sapphire continued: ‘There were actually a lot of older women who have guided me through my career. At Playboy I have a friend, Holly, who works for them that has helped me.

‘I’ve had a lot of support. I’ve had a lot of people keep me safe and really give me good advice. But it was up to me to take the advice and apply it to my life for sure.’

The star has gone on to become one of the top one per cent of earners on OnlyFans

She says her past work helped her learn the best content to share on the online  subscription platform

Business moves: The star has become one of the top one per cent of earners on OnlyFans, claiming her past work helped her learn the best content to share on the online  subscription platform

Open book: The star now co-hosts The Heartbreakers podcast which features guests including RHOBH alum Brandi Glanville

Open book: The star now co-hosts The Heartbreakers podcast which features guests including RHOBH alum Brandi Glanville

As for the controversy that has surrounded the brand, she noted that ‘in any business or company’ there will always be people ‘who can be not kind.’

One thing the model did have to deal with was copious amounts of jealousy as she revealed she would encounter it ‘every day.’

She admitted: ‘I feel like sometimes it’s even hard to make friends because people can be so jealous. I always say, just don’t have friends. 

‘Everybody laughs at that. But if I really feel like me if you want to be successful and work on your career, it’s better to stay away from people. You never know what people want to do, you know, be dishonest or ruin things for you.’

Sapphire’s drive to succeed played a part in her ability to make the lucrative move from adult films to OnlyFans, as she revealed she had started to lose out on profits by sticking with porn.

She explained: ‘I was already so stable financially when subscription based sites were coming out, to the point where I didn’t have to be on set anymore. 

‘I was actually losing money going and being on set when I could have just been at home doing other things and letting the money come in.’

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Reflecting on how she’s managed to achieve so much success on OnlyFans despite the large competition to attract subscribers, the model admitted: ‘I learned the tricks from being in the industry. 

‘They taught us how to create content so that’s why I’m in the one per cent because I had enough training to really know what people like. And also about marketing. It is really important.’

Focused: Sapphire says her drive to succeed played a part in her ability to make the lucrative move from adult films to OnlyFans

Focused: Sapphire says her drive to succeed played a part in her ability to make the lucrative move from adult films to OnlyFans

Top tip: Sapphire advises that clever use of social media could be the key to finding fame and lasting success within the sector

Top tip: Sapphire advises that clever use of social media could be the key to finding fame and lasting success within the sector

Sharing her top tip for those who want to enjoy similar success in the world of adult entertainment, she insisted: ‘I would stick with an agent just so they again can guide you and protect you. 

‘And I actually wouldn’t recommend people staying in it too long. I think a year to two years is enough to really, it happens quickly.

‘If the fan base likes you, they’ll be quick to pay attention to you so you don’t need to stay in it long and then just save your money and use it to then level up.’

Sapphire claimed clever use of social media could be the key to finding fame within the sector and she continued: ‘I actually used to make sure I posted three times a day on my main, which sounds crazy, but it helped grow my Instagram following.

‘Twitter is easy because you can promote just about anything on there. But Instagram is where everybody still is. I know people are going more towards TikTok, but people are still all on Instagram.’

Stressing that natural and honest content was the most effective, the model added: ‘I think what the fans love the most is just a day in the life type of things, just very natural lifestyle that’s what they want to see.

‘I actually make sure I keep my social media very much like that because that really is why they followed me in the first place. 

‘A lot of times I won’t even post with makeup or anything on because that’s really what they want. They want to see how I am day to day.’

Season two of the Heartbreakers Podcast is live to stream on Spotify and YouTube. 

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