Mia Khalifa (Arabic: ميا خليفة; born February 10, 1993), also known as Mia Callista, is a Lebanese American social media personality and webcam model, best known for her successful, albeit brief, career as a pornographic actress from 2014 to 2015.
Born in Beirut, Khalifa moved to the United States in 2000. 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. She was nevertheless disillusioned with the pornographic industry and left it after three months.
Mia Khalifa was born on February 10, 1993, in Beirut, Lebanon and moved with her family to the United States in 2000. Her family is Catholic and she was raised in that religion, although is no longer practicing. She lived in Montgomery County, Maryland as a teenager and played lacrosse at high school. A few years later she graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. In February 2011, shortly after she turned 18, Khalifa married an American man.
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. 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 a July 2016 interview with The Washington Post, Khalifa revealed 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.
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 also said 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.