TELEVISIONLAND—It seems everywhere you look former porn performers are trying to move on from their sexually exhibitionist careers, some successfully, others not so much. In the States, many people are aware of Sasha Grey's relatively easy transition from bona fide porn star to respected actor, and others may be aware of the far more difficult career shift attempted by Stacie Halas, a middle school science teacher in Oxnard, California, who was just fired from her job because of her past as a part-time porn performer. But another actress, Sibel Kekilli, who is currently starring in HBO's hit series Game of Thrones, also began her professional career working in front of the cameras in adult movies.
A German of Turkish descent, the 31-year-old Kekilli, who plays the prostitute, Shae, on Thrones, has already survived a public scandal that erupted in 2004 after a German tabloid outed the 23-year-old, who had just had her mainstream debut as the lead in a major mainstream hit, Head-On, for appearing in porn. The revelation led to her parents breaking off contact with her, but in terms of her career it was barely a blip on the radar. Kekilli has appeared in several movies since, and in 2010 won a Lola, Germany's highest movie award, as Best Actress for her performance in Feo Aladag's When We Leave.
2010 was the same year Kekilli was cast in Game of Thrones, first as a guest star and then, in the second season, as a permanent member of the cast. She also has a regular role in the long-running German/Austrian/Swiss crime series Tatort.
The internet being what it is, however, a quick Google search using Kekilli's real name returns a number of results featuring the lithe, raven-haired beauty engaging in hardcore action back in the day. According to one account from 2004, the actress performed in nine adult films until autumn 2002 before she was spotted on the street by Head-On director Fatih Akin, who reportedly cast her for the film immediately.
Akin and others came to her defense, accusing the tabloid of "bigoted and disgusting" behavior, and explaining that Kekilli had told him of her past work but that the two had decided not to mention it in the hopes that no one would find out. In the end, the scandal went away as far as her career was concerned, but the impact on her parents, whom the actress characterized as modern but conservative, was far more disruptive.
"The disgrace is too great for the family," Kekilli's father said at the time. "Sibel moved to Hamburg two years ago. Apparently she worked in the city hall and now this news. I can never forgive her for it. I don't want to ever see her again."
Judging from more recent bios of the actress, it appears that she remains estranged from her family. A Yahoo! article last year noted Kekelli's adult entertainment past, and wondered, in light of her newfound success on Game of Thrones, "But with Americans just now becoming aware of Kekilli's sordid past, she may have to go through the ordeal of having her dirty laundry aired all over again."
It would also appear, however, that though the laundry remains digitally available, it's no longer considered all that dirty.