Mia Khalifa opens up about her time in porn—and says she only made $12,000

BTW

Former porn star Mia Khalifa recently got real about her brief stint in the porn industry, and the internet can’t stop talking about it. Social media users are even making memes about her shocking salary.

Despite being in the porn industry for only three months, Khalifa still ranks as one of the industry’s biggest names.

She recently spoke to friend Megan Abbott about the controversies which surrounded her career and the difficulties of finding another job once she decided to leave the industry.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she admitted.

The title of the interview, which was posted on YouTube, is “Mia Khalifa Tells Her Story for the First Time” and it has amassed nearly 400,000 views.

Khalifa, who is now 26 and has been out of the industry for nearly five years, left after performing an adult scene in a hijab, which garnered death threats from ISIS and caused for her to be banned from multiple Muslim countries.

“The turning point, of course, was when I did the hijab scene,” she told Abbot. “That is when the ISIS death threats came in, all of the news broke out—globally. Not just in America. It was trending on Twitter, it was all over the news. I was banned from a handful of counties… Egypt… Afghanistan…Very Muslim countries were deeply offended by it—and I’m catholic. So to me it wasn’t, ‘Oh yea, this is bad.’ What I actually said when they proposed the scene to me, and this is verbatim, ‘You motherfuckers are going to get me killed.’”

After the hijab scene was released, Khalifa said her social media presence more than doubled—going from 400 followers on Instagram to nearly 200,000 in just a matter of three days.

“The day after the scene dropped is when everything blew up. I went from 400 followers on Instagram to like 200,000 in the span of three days and then it just kept snowballing until I was at 2 million like 6 months later,” she said. “This was after I had quit porn. It just kept growing, and growing, and growing—and then my Instagram account was hacked by ISIS.”

But the most shocking detail was that after all the controversy, and despite still ranking as one of the top adult film actresses in the business, Khalifa said she only made $12,000 from her time in the industry: “People think I’m racking in millions from porn,” she tweeted. “I made a TOTAL of around $12,000 in the industry and never saw a penny again after that. Difficulty finding a normal job after quitting porn was… scary.”

“To clarify, I was never promised ‘millions,’ nor do I expect it,” Khalifa tweeted. “I’m just clarifying common misconceptions about me, and in turn, about the industry.”

She continued: “I was involved in porn so briefly, but my actions spread like wildfire, and I continue to be ranked (truly baffles me) 5 years after leaving the industry. This is why people think I still perform.”

Once the interview was posted, Khalifa’s comments quickly went viral, with many on Twitter questioning how one of the most top-ranked adult film actresses in the world only walked away with $12,000.

“Mia khalifa really sold her soul away for 12k,” said @treywayhi3

“Mia Khalifa ONLY made 12k off ALL those videos,” said @DRACOfrm29

“That’s worse than any terrible scumbag music industry deal in the last 20+ years. There should be some sort of stream or porn publishing deal. $1,000 a video???? Damn,” noted jewelry designer Ben Baller.

Then there was comedian Anthony Jeselnik, who tweeted: “It’s disgraceful what teachers get paid in this country.”

But Khalifa’s interview also shined a light on the stigmas many adult films stars face. Khalifa posted a clip of her full interview with Abbott, in which she spoke about being recruited into the industry and the societal pressures which forced her to do it.

“Doing porn wasn’t a conscious decision I woke up one day and decided would be fun,” she tweeted.” It was systematic conditioning to make me feel like I wasn’t worthy unless a man desired me that ultimately pushed me to do it.”

Khalifa also revealed that she decided to open about her experiences in the porn industry so that her past could no longer be used against her.

“Deliberately not talking about my past has hurt my future more than speaking my truth ever could. I’m ready to shed light on every questionable moment from my past, because if I own it, it can’t be used against me,” she tweeted last week.

And aside from the memes, Khalifa did have meaningful conversations with a few users on Twitter, in hopes to shine a light on the misconceptions associated with adult film actresses.

“if she only made 12k it’s because she only shot porn for a VERY short amount of time. the title is misleading, she still uses her stage name meaning she still profits off of her time in the industry even if she’s not doing porn,” said @gerichoe.

https://twitter.com/generichoe/status/1160972809700442112

“Title is not misleading at all if you actually listen to the interview. I talk about the misconception of how much I/other girls make in the industry, I’m not lamenting on what I did earn. But you clearly have deeper issues with me past this, so good luck with your bitter life,” Khalifa responded.

“Is your website still up though,” asked @nickt731.

“I do not own the site/profit from it any way. I’ve never seen a penny from it. All I’ve wanted these last years is for the site to be changed from my direct name. (Porn) corporations prey on callow young women & trap them legally into contracts when they’re vulnerable,” she responded.

She also received praise and support from a lot of people, who commended her for being so open and honest about her experiences.

“I’m almost finished listening to it. It’s a great interview! It takes a lot of courage to tell your truth. Mia (like everyone else) deserves the chance to move on and transition into the person they aspire to become. This interview will prove to be an integral stepping stone,” said @JasonOGNutCamp1

“I found Mia Khalifa’s interview with Megan Abbott super inspiring. Never really heard someone express their insecurities so openly and honest. It was super relatable and made me feel more confident about myself. Thanks for sharing your story,” tweeted @septemberlaura

Since her transition from the porn industry, Khalifa appears to be doing fine.

After having worked as a bookkeeper and a paralegal, she has now landed herself a job as a sports commentator, and earlier this year, she announced her engagement to boyfriend Robert Sandberg.

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Dominic-Madori Davis

Dominic-Madori Davis

Dominic-Madori Davis is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California. She covers the internet, politics, and social issues.