Mia Khalifa (Arabic: ميا خليفة; born February 10, 1993), also known as Mia Callista, is a Lebanese-born American social media personality and webcam model, best known for her career as a pornographic actress from 2014 to 2015.
Born in Beirut, Khalifa moved to the United States in 2001. She began acting in pornography in October 2014, and by December was ranked the number 1 performer on the website Pornhub. Her career choice was met with controversy in the Middle East, especially for a video in which she performed sexual acts while wearing the Islamic hijab. After three months, Khalifa left the pornographic industry to pursue other interests.
|Native name||ميا خليفة|
February 10, 1993|
|Other names||Mia Callista|
|Known for||Ranked No. 1 on Pornhub in December 2014|
|Height||5 ft 2 in (1.57 m)|
|Weight||121 lb (55 kg; 8.6 st)|
Mia Khalifa was born on February 10, 1993, in Beirut, Lebanon and moved with her family to the United States in January 2001, leaving their home in the wake of the South Lebanon conflict. Her family is Catholic and she was raised in that religion, in what she describes as a "very conservative" home, although she is no longer practicing. Khalifa attended a French private school in Beirut, where she learned to speak English. After moving to America, she lived in Montgomery County, Maryland and played lacrosse in high school. Khalifa has talked about being bullied at high school for being "the darkest and weirdest girl there", which intensified after the September 11 attacks.
While at college, Khalifa worked as a bartender and did some modelling work. She was also a "briefcase girl" on a local Spanish-language TV game show, similar to Deal or No Deal. After graduating, she moved to Miami and was approached to do nude modelling, which she accepted.
Khalifa entered the pornographic film industry in October 2014. She had been working at a Whataburger when she was approached by a customer who asked if she had ever considered appearing in pornographic films. She came to widespread attention after the release of a BangBros scene in which she wears a hijab during a threesome. The scene brought Khalifa instant popularity, as well as criticism from writers and religious figures. The scene's producer said "We weren't trying to exploit [Khalifa's ethnicity]. We wanted to embrace it. No one could have anticipated the negativity surrounding it." Alex Hawkins, Vice President of marketing for xHamster, said "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." With more than 1.5 million views, the 22-year-old Khalifa became the most searched-for performer on the adult video sharing website Pornhub. On December 28 that year, Pornhub revealed that she was the No. 1 ranked performer on their website.
She received online death threats after she ranked No. 1 on Pornhub, including a manipulated image of a Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant executioner preparing to behead her, and a message warning her that she would go to Hell, to which she replied "I've been meaning to get a little tan recently". Lebanese newspapers wrote articles critical of Khalifa, which she considered trivial due to other events in the region.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Khalifa said the controversial scene was satirical and should be taken as such, claiming that Hollywood films depicted Muslims in a far more negative light than any pornographer could. Among those who publicly spoke out to defend her decision to become an adult performer was British-Lebanese author Nasri Atallah, who stated, "The moral indignation ... is wrong for two reasons. First and foremost, as a woman, she is free to do as she pleases with her body. As a sentient human being with agency, who lives halfway across the world, she is in charge of her own life and owes absolutely nothing to the country where she happened to be born." Khalifa herself said of the controversy: "Women's rights in Lebanon are a long way from being taken seriously if a Lebanese American porn star that no longer resides there can cause such an uproar. What I once boasted to people as being the most Westernized nation in the Middle East, I now see as devastatingly archaic and oppressed."
According to data from Pornhub, from January 3 to 6, 2015, searches for Khalifa increased five-fold. Around a quarter of those searches came from Lebanon, with substantial searches also from nearby countries Syria and Jordan. Because of the hijab-related controversy, she was ranked No. 5 in a list of "The world's 10 most notorious porn stars" by British men's magazine Loaded in July 2016. Almaza, a Lebanese brewery, ran an advertisement showing a bottle of their beer next to Khalifa's signature glasses, with the slogan: "We are both rated 18+." In January 2015, pop band Timeflies released a song titled "Mia Khalifa" in homage to her.
In January 2015, Khalifa signed a long-term contract with Bang Bros' parent company which required her to perform in multiple films each month. However, two weeks later, Khalifa had a change of heart and resigned. The negative attention she received from her global attention prompted her to leave the industry: "It was an eye-opener for me. I don't want any of this, whether it's positive or negative—but all of it was negative. I didn't get too much into it about how my friends and family and relationships were suffering."
In a July 2016 interview with The Washington Post, Khalifa stated that she had only performed in pornography for three months and had left the industry over a year before, changing to a "more normal job". She said "I guess it was my rebellious phase. It wasn't really for me. I kind of smartened up and tried to distance myself from that." As of May 2016, Khalifa was still performing as a webcam model.
After leaving porn, Khalifa worked in Miami as a paralegal and bookkeeper. She transitioned into a career as a social media personality, webcam model and sports commentator. She runs a YouTube channel; live streams on Twitch.tv; performs as a webcam model; sells photoshoots, merchandise and access to exclusive content on membership website Patreon; and sells explicit photoshoots and videos on the social media website Findrow. She and Gilbert Arenas hosted Out of Bounds, a daily sports show on Complex News’s YouTube channel, from October 2017 to February 2018.
Khalifa resided in Miami, Florida during her pornographic career and then relocated back to Texas. Khalifa is a fan of Florida State Seminoles football and attempted to recruit Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller to transfer to Florida State through social networking. After ending her pornographic career, she used her social media presence of over 1 million Twitter and 300,000 Instagram followers to support the professional sports teams from the Washington, D.C. area, including the Washington Redskins, Washington Wizards and the National Hockey League's Washington Capitals of whom her favorite player is André Burakovsky. Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post observed that despite her change of career, Khalifa's social media feed was "still a bit more risque than that of, say, Ben Bernanke."
She has a tattoo of the opening line of the Lebanese National Anthem, and another of the Lebanese Forces Cross. She got the latter in 2012 after a bombing in Lebanon, stating it was to "show solidarity with my father's political views." Both tattoos have come under the scrutiny of her detractors.
Khalifa has stated that her parents have stopped speaking to her because of her career choice. In a statement, her parents disassociated themselves from her actions, saying that her decision to enter the porn industry was born of her residence in a foreign country which had a different culture than theirs, and that her actions did not reflect her upbringing. They also said that they hoped that she would leave pornography, saying that her image did not honor her family or her home country.