In 2014, Mia Khalifa made a decision that would follow her for the rest of her life. Being a 21-year-old living in Miami, she was approached by a man who asked if she’d ever considered filming some porn scenes.
Having moved to the United States with her family from Lebanon at the age of seven, Mia knew her parents would disapprove. But given the amount of porn on the internet, she thought the chance of her family coming across her adult work would be highly unlikely.
Mia’s time in the porn industry was short, having made 11 videos in the span of three months. But these videos, the most popular of which featured her wearing a hijab during a threesome, would lead her to become the most searched-for porn star on the internet.
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This is still the case today, six years after Mia’s videos first appeared. Her unexpected fame as a result of these videos is something the now 27-year-old said will ‘haunt me until I die.’ She says her decision to enter the industry was one that stemmed from low self-esteem, explaining that the way we feel about ourselves doesn’t discriminate.
“It doesn't matter if you come from a great family or if you come from a not-so-great background,” Mia told BBC’s HARDtalk last year.
"I struggled my entire childhood with weight and I never felt attractive or worthy of male attention and suddenly my first year of college I start losing all this weight from making small changes and by the time I graduated I was ready to make a bigger difference."
Her time in the industry saw Mia receive validation and compliments for the first time, attention that she ‘did not want to go away.’ Yet Mia ended up leaving the industry just as quickly as she entered it when she received a slew of death threats from religious extremists after her infamous hijab porn video.
Despite being a non-practicing Catholic, the suggestion to wear a hijab came to her from producers. Being so young at the time, she didn’t think she could say no.
“[The producers] gave me this script and told me what I would be wearing and I said ‘you are going to get me f***ing killed’,” Mia told a radio station in 2018.