AJ Applegate reflects on her journey from a dancer to renowned Instagram star

In every field, there are folks who have worked hard, learned the industry inside and out, and then emerged as leaders and established professionals. One of these people is AJ Applegate.

AJ Applegate (photo credit: AJ APPLEGATE)
AJ Applegate
(photo credit: AJ APPLEGATE)
In every field, there are folks who have worked hard, learned the industry inside and out, and then emerged as leaders and established professionals. One of these people is AJ Applegate. Not only has she established a successful career in the adult film industry, but she has become a business owner, won countless awards, and has risen to Instagram fame with 1.8 million total followers.
AJ Applegate has been able to expand her career in the adult film industry by launching her merchandise brand. As a business owner, she gets to be her own boss and control her destiny. She has two Instagram accounts, @ajsmerch and @realajapplegate, the latter with over a million followers. Her road to Instagram fame is studded with many industry awards, such as 2014 XRCO Best New Starlet, 2016 Booty Queen, and 2016 XRCO Orgasmic Analist. Most recently, she received the 2019 International Lifetime Achievement Award in Mexico.
Her brand is not only sex-positive but body positive. Early in her career, she had to campaign for her body type to be taken seriously in the industry. Some directors wouldn’t put her on-screen because they said she was ‘too thick.’ But once she made it onto film, her popularity soared. This experience gave her both strength and a unique origin story – and her success speaks for itself.
Born Danielle Gray, AJ Applegate was always an entertainer. She was a dancer through her youth and into young adulthood, dancing for sports teams. But something was missing. She had always been interested in pornography. She was inspired by seeing women express their sexuality freely and proudly. After dancing for a few years, she moved into stripping and nude modeling. When she was able to connect with an agent who would help her get into adult films, she went for it. She successfully established herself and started making money for other people. But then she realized she had the ability and knowledge necessary to market herself. Her personal brand was born.
In AJ Applegate’s career, fans can see not just a transition from dancer to adult film and Instagram star, but a journey from a woman with a dream to a woman in charge.