Sunny Leone (born Karen Malhotra; May 13, 1981) is an Indo-Canadian pornographic actress, actress, businesswoman and model. She was named Penthouse Pet of the Year in 2003 and was a contract star for Vivid Entertainment. Named by Maxim as one of the 12 top porn stars in 2010, she has also played roles in independent mainstream films and television shows.
Leone was born Karen Malhotra in Sarnia, Ontario to Sikh Punjabi parents from India. Her father was born in Tibet and raised in Delhi, while her mother (who died in 2008) was from a small town named Nahan in Sirmaur, Himachal Pradesh. As a young girl, she was very athletic and played street hockey with the boys, enjoyed ice skating on a nearby frozen lake and drinking hot chocolate in front of a fire after playing in the snow all day.
Though she was raised as a Sikh, her parents enrolled her in a Catholic school, as it was felt to be unsafe for her to go to public school. There she had her first kiss at 11, lost her virginity to a basketball player at another school at 16, and discovered that she was bisexual at 18. When she was 13, her family moved to Fort Gratiot, Michigan, then to Lake Forest, California a year later, fulfilling her grandparents' dream that the family be together in one place. She graduated from high school in 1999 and enrolled in college.
Leone at the 2002 Adult Entertainment Expo, one of her earliest promotional appearances
While studying to be a pediatric nurse in Orange County, a classmate who was an exotic dancer introduced Leone to John Stevens, an agent who in turn introduced her to Jay Allen, a photographer for Penthouse magazine. When picking a name for her adult career, she has said that Sunny is her real name and Leone was picked by Bob Guccione, former owner of Penthouse magazine. She posed for Penthouse magazine, and was named Penthouse Pet of the Month for the March 2001 issue, followed by a feature in the Holiday 2001 edition of Hustler magazine as a Hustler Honey. She has appeared in other magazines including Cheri, Mystique Magazine, High Society, Swank, AVN Online, Leg World, Club International and Lowrider, while her online credits include ModFX Models, Suze Randall, Ken Marcus and Mac & Bumble. Her pictorial credits also include working with stars like Adriana Sage, Jenna Jameson, Jelena Jensen and Aria Giovanni.
In 2003, she was declared the Penthouse Pet of the Year and also starred in the video Penthouse Pets in Paradise alongside Tera Patrick and Kyla Cole. In addition to her print work, she had also done pantyhose modeling with Ed Fox and Playtime Videos as well as bondage videos for FM Concepts. In 2005 Adam & Eve appointed her as their West Coast Internet Sales Representative.
That same year, Leone signed a three-year contract with Vivid Entertainment with which she transitioned into the world of hardcore pornography, stating that she would only do lesbian scenes. Her first movie released was titled Sunny and was released in December 2005. Her next movie, Virtual Vivid Girl Sunny Leone, was the first interactive title for Leone, who was the first Vivid Girl to make such a movie. Taking only four days to film, the movie won her her first AVN Award (Best Interactive DVD). She followed this with Sunny Loves Cher, which featured her first on-screen squirting,and The Female Gardner co-starring Mikayla Mendez and Daisy Marie.
Leone's last two movies under her contract with Vivid were It's Sunny in Brazil, which was filmed in Brazil. and The Sunny Experiment also starring Monique Alexander and Brea Lynn. The movies were released in October and December 2007 respectively.
In May 2007, upon re-signing her contract with Vivid for another six films, Leone agreed to perform for the first time with men on camera, but exclusively with her fiancé, Matt Erikson. That summer she also received breast augmentation, and shot her first movie under the new contract titled Sunny Loves Matt. The movie led to her to be nominated for three (out of six) AVN awards in 2009 in addition to being a choice for Female Performer of the Year. She followed up her first boy-girl title with The Other Side of Sunny in October 2008, which would be the last time she would perform with Erikson.
In January 2008, Leone revealed that she was no longer exclusive to Erikson, and had done scenes with other actors, most notably Tommy Gunn, Charles Dera, James Deen and Voodoo. In August of that same year, she announced the launch of her own studio, Sunlust Pictures, with Daniel Weber as her partner. With her new venture Leone plans to write, direct and create her own brand of adult movies with Vivid Entertainment as her distributor. Her first independent production, The Dark Side of the Sun, was released in March 2009, and was debuted at the Erotic Heritage Museum in Las Vegas. In June 2009, she held a casting call in Las Vegas for her second independent production titled Sunny Slumber Party (released September 2009).
Leone at the 2005 AVN Award show
No longer exclusive to Vivid, Leone has started working with other studios and performers since 2009. She has managed to leverage her online popularity by striking deals with firms like PPPcard, AdultPokerParty.com, Brickhouse, Flirt4Free, Totemcash and Imlive to sell and distribute her content over the internet and other media.She won the "Web Babe of the Year" at the 2008 Xbiz Awards. Her websites and business interests are run under her banner company Leone L.L.C.
In addition to her film career, Leone has been part of the Vivid Comedy Tour, and has modeled for the Vivid Footwear collection. Leone has also participated in events like the Vivid/ClubJenna Lingerie Bowl and Vivid's Hot Rod Night. Doc Johnson launched a pocket pal in 2006 molded to her vagina, and in 2008 released the Sunny Leone Exciter vibrator. Control MFG currently uses Leone's image along with other Vivid girls to market their line of skateboards. She is paired with Gab Ekoe, one of the Team Control riders. She also indicated that she plans to launch her own line of lingerie and other Sunny-branded products including a diamond jewelry line.
In September 2009, an iPhone application consisting of a collection of non-nude photos, some videos and a porn star-penned blog was approved by Apple for sale in the iTunes store, making it the first officially sanctioned application featuring a porn star. By February 2010, the app had been removed by Apple from the store.
Leone was voted #13 (up from #41 in 2007) on Genesis magazine's "Top 100 Porn stars" list, #34 on Desiclubs.com's Top 50 Coolest Desis of 2004, and one of the "40 under 40" ranking on AVN Online magazine. In 2010, she was named by Maxim as one of the 12 top female stars in porn.
Leone's first mainstream appearance was in 2005, when she was a red carpet reporter for the MTV Awards on MTV India. She has also had a cameo in the film The Girl Next Door, performed in Ja Rule's video "Livin It Up" and a video for Kidd Skilly. Other credits include E!'s "Wild On!" and the Sundance Film Festival's 'After Dark.' Leone was a contestant in the second season of the Fox reality show My Bare Lady 2: Open For Business, in which a group of adult actresses were given classes and training on how to pitch investment ideas and competed for success in the business world. In addition to filming her scene for Debbie Does Dallas in 2007, Leone was also part of a Showtime documentary of the same name detailing the production of the movie and the personal lives of its stars.
She has indicated that for the right price she would seriously consider a career in Bollywood. She has been courted by Indian directors in the past but has felt uncomfortable with the roles that she would have played. Director Mohit Suri is rumored to have asked Leone to play the lead role in his movie Kalyug, but instead cast Deepal Shaw as he could not afford her $1 million acting fee. She has mentioned that Aamir Khan is her favorite Bollywood Actor, and that over 60% of her fans are from South Asia.
In 2008, Leone announced that she would be starring in a mainstream action adventure movie titled Pirates Blood, which was shot in Oman. The shooting was completed in two weeks and was to be released in winter 2008. Leone also landed a role in Middle Men, producer Chris Mallick's indie feature about the birth of the online porn industry set for wide theatrical release in 2009. She has mentioned that she will be appearing in an upcoming Will Ferrell movie scheduled to be released in 2010.
Leone has made appearances at events such as the 2002 SEMA International Auto Salon, the 2002 Extreme Autofest Pomona and the 2006 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Sunny has also been the hostess at events in clubs like the Mansion in Miami and the Highlands in Hollywood.
In 2005, she was mentioned in Forbes magazine for a story on Vivid Entertainment. Leone has also been featured in mainstream publications like FHM, Front and Jane magazine. In 2007, along with the other Vivid Girls, she was seen in a 48' high holiday Billboard in Times Square at W. 48th Street and Seventh Avenue. Leone is also one of the Penthouse Pets who appears in the PlayStation Portable game Pocket Pool. She was also featured in a coffee table book titled Naked Ambition: An R Rated Look at an X Rated Industry by Micheal Grecco.
In 2004, she was part of "No More Bush Girls", in which she and several other popular adult actresses shaved off their pubic hair in protest of the Bush presidency. In May 2008, she shot a promotional video for Declare Yourself, a nonprofit, nonpartisan voter registration campaign targeting 18-to-29-year-olds. She indicated that Barack Obama would be her choice in the 2008 U.S. election, primarily because she felt he was more business friendly to the adult industry than his opponent John McCain. She also released a public service announcement on behalf of the ASACP, reminding adult webmasters to protect their sites from children by having an RTA label on it.
Leone has a strong interest in health and fitness, and has been featured in several mainstream fitness publications. Leone has modeled fitness clothing for the sports brand Fantasy Fitness and shared that she keeps her body in shape by working out as much as she can despite her busy schedule and as quoted in Men's Fitness magazine, "I try to eat very healthy – lots of vegetables, drinking my milk every day."
In 2011, she participated in the Indian reality series Bigg Boss, entering the house on day 49. However she refused to divulge her 'porn star' status and replied to a poser from actress, and fellow house-mate, Pooja Bedi that she was a model and a TV star in America for the last ten years or so.
Leone in 2009 at Exxxotica 2009 in Miami, with merchandise for sale in front of her
In June 2006, Leone became an American citizen, but plans to remain a dual citizen of Canada. Although bisexual, she has stated that she prefers men. In her spare time she enjoys abstract paintings, horse riding, reading, playing World of Warcraft, watching The Simpsons and the Discovery Channel. She used to play on a women's soccer league team in California. Her favorite holiday destination is Hawaii, and her favorite cuisine is Italian.
In separate interviews, she has stated that in ten years' time she would like to be married and have started a family, and probably retire from the industry by the time she is 30. Leone was engaged to Matt Erikson, a vice-president of marketing at Playboy Enterprises. She currently resides in Hollywood, California with her cat and drives an Audi A5.
A 2008 Eye Weekly article reported that "Leone does her best to maintain a link to Sikh traditions, even if more in theory than in practice. But she's unlikely to disavow her career path due to religion." and that Leone said "Girls will leave the industry claiming that they found God. Well, the fact is, God has always been with them the entire time." In a 2010 interview, she said "It’s a community-based religion. You walk into a temple and you’re greeted with the utmost respect... But, just like any religion it doesn’t want you to shoot adult material. I mean, I grew up going to temple every Sunday. When my parents found out they knew my personality which was very independent. Even if they tried to stop me or tried to steer me the right way they would have lost their daughter. I’m too headstrong. And it wasn’t a plan. It just happened and my career and everything just kept getting bigger and bigger."
- 2008 XBIZ Award - Web Babe of the Year 
- 2010 AVN Award - Best All-Girl Group Sex Scene
- 2010 AVN Award - Web Starlet of the Year
- 2010 F.A.M.E. Award – Favorite Breasts