Retired porn star Mia Khalifa has come a long way since receiving “terrifying” death threats from terror groups ISIS.
As well as running her own booming OnlyFans account, the Pornhub legend has built a following across Twitter, TikTok and Instagram that dwarfs the sports stars she has reported on for US media outlets.
We take a whirlwind tour of how the once bullied World of Warcraft-loving teenager became the most popular yet vilified adult actress in the world before sacking it in for a normal job — only to find out she was too famous.
Mia moved from Lebanon with her family as a child to a Washington DC suburb in the US, where she says she grew up with kids hurling nonsensical terrorist slurs at her off the back of 9/11.
Having lost a fair bit of weight in her late teenage years, Mia became self-conscious about her breasts and focused on saving up for an augmentation while at The University of Texas at El Paso.
Only one month after getting implants in December 2013, Mia was stopped on the street.
“‘Hey, I don’t mean to be a creep, but if you are ever interested in nude modelling, here’s my card,’” Mia told Playboy in 2018.
Within a few weeks, Khalifa appeared naked on camera for the first time and took on the name she is known to the world as following inspiration from her dog’s name and the rapper Wiz Khalifa.
She stayed true to the moniker Mia Khalifa despite an industry expert suggesting she went for something new “because it — and I quote — ‘sounds slutty and people won’t be able to spell it,’” she recently told Bustle.
It was X-rated production company Bang Bros that pounced on Mia’s ethnicity and proposed she starred in the now-infamous sex scene of her dressed in a hijab.
The Catholic-raised future star responded: “You motherf***rs are going to get me killed.”
She wasn’t too far off either as ISIS hacked her Instagram account while sending her death threats.
Mia recalled: “Once I gained popularity, I was like, ‘Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! It was terrifying.”
Steve was one of the team at Bang Bros who worked with Mia over her 21 adult films.
He told Playboy: “We weren’t trying to exploit [her ethnicity]. We wanted to embrace it. No one could have anticipated the negativity surrounding it.”
As the video gained traction worldwide, doing numbers beyond Bang Bros’ imagination, religious scholars and writers panned it as a publicity stunt.
Alex Hawkins, the vice president of marketing for xHamster added: “The outrage it caused in the Arab world ended up being a bit of a ‘Streisand effect’.
“Suddenly, everyone was searching for her. The effort to censor her only made her more ubiquitous.”
Mia however had enough and shocked Steve at Bang Bros when she decided to quit after starring in 21 adult movies and just over half with partners.
Steve said: “I remember when she came in with a letter of resignation. I said, ‘Why? You’re the biggest star in the world.’
“She said, ‘I don’t want to be.’ I can’t say that I’ve ever had a porn star give me a letter of resignation.”
Mia then set about doing her best to hide from notoriety and swapped stardom for the office with roles as a bookkeeper and paralegal.
Despite transforming her image with a whole new look of short blonde hair, Mia could not escape her fame which became intrusive at work when colleagues and clients made a fuss over it.
One construction firm boss even banned customers from the office as a result.
Soon after Mia decided to cash in on her name and return to the limelight with sports shows and social media where she now has 32 million followers on TikTok alone.
In 2018 Kaskel, a marketing manager at eSports company NRG, was committed to helping Mia realise her potential as the “next Kim Kardashian”.
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He said: “She’s going to be the next Kim Kardashian. I don’t think people see Kim as someone who has a sex tape. They think of someone who is gorgeous, and Mia is in that same category.”
Mia added: “The internet, and these people who think I still do porn, are running my life. But if I can get through ISIS sending me threats, then the 14-year-old boy telling me to stick to sucking d**k isn’t going to hurt me.
“Everyone should get threatened by ISIS once in his or her life.”