Mia Khalifa was on PornHub for all of two months before she became the website’s “No. 1 ranked performer.” The exposure (and a video where she wore a hijab) led to death threats, and less than a year after filming her first video, she left the pornography industry to attempt a less-notorious life. But “attempts to take cover in conventional jobs like bookkeeper and paralegal were doomed,” Bustle‘s Charlotte Shane wrote in a profile. “Though she cut and dyed her long, dark hair, co-workers and clients alike made it clear that they’d seen her on their screens. She says their behavior was so disruptive that one employer, a construction firm, stopped letting customers into the office.”
Khalifa eventually found a home on social media, where she could control her own content. She has 28 million followers on Instagram and 32 million on TikTok (putting her in the top 50 most-followed accounts), although she prefers one over the other.
“My Instagram is maybe 25 percent women, but TikTok is in the mid-40s,” Khalifa said. “That’s why it’s such a safe and fun platform for me. There are videos where my entire comments section is just women, and I can sit in there and go back and forth with them.“
Her TikTok followers also inspired her to start an OnlyFans.
“I had written it off for so long because I was insecure,” she says, about its affiliation with X-rated content. But once there, she found that the platform helped her understand the “difference between ethical and unethical ways to consume porn,” as she put it.
Khalifa, who was in a season two episode of Ramy, will soon appear on Showtime’s Ziwe, where she’ll discuss “the anomaly of empowerment” with host Ziwe and fellow guest Emily Ratajkowski. You can read the Bustle profile here.