Pulitzer prize winning historian, Laurel Thatcher Ulric once wrote, ‘Well-behaved women seldom make history.” Over the years, these powerful words took a life of their own and have rung true through the rising of countless examples. Right from Cleopatra to Eleanor Roosevelt and Indira Gandhi, right from Virginia Woolf to Madonna, the woman who has refused to conform to the boundaries and guidelines that society set for them are the ones who ultimately became larger than life. This is also why we are all excited to see the inspiring biopic of Karenjit Kaur Vohra, known popularly as Sunny Leone.
According to most of us, her journey began as an adult film star. Few know, however, that this enterprising young woman had already begun to write her story when she was a little girl, not more than 10 years of age, and she would go to the street with her brother in Canada, shovel snow in the driveways and earn a dollar a piece. Before entering high school, she used to put up lemonade stands to earn money. In high school, she joined a club called Future Business Leaders of America, where she learned a lot about marketing, supply, and demand.
She discovered her bisexuality at the age of 18. Having always been a strong and confident woman, however, she refused to be embarrassed by it or remain in the closet about it, and she embraced it instead.
She might have entered the adult content business in order to support her family, but it is not something she regrets having done. Creating adult content is something she took on and succeeded in with aplomb, and till today she is unapologetic about it. “I realized that (adult content) was a business. But more than that, I wanted to own a website and run my own company,” she was reported as saying to a famous website. To manage her website and to expand her brand profile, she learned HTML, video editing, photography and everything from start to finish. She understood the meaning of web traffic with these skills. She began to handle everything on her website. She has been quoted as saying, “If I have to be in this industry, I want to make all the money—every dollar. After all, it is my body, my image, and my brand.” She accepts her past with grace and dignity and doesn’t let any questions or comments about it get her down or get in her way. After all, a successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at her.
Ms. Leone has hosted television shows such as Splitsvilla and Man Vs. wild with Sunny Leone. In 2012, she made her Bollywood debut with Jism 2 and has, since then, gone on to make successful movies like Ragini MMS 2 and Ek Paheli Leela. Here, the lady who has been trashed endlessly for her career as an adult entertainer, set an example of values and work ethics by calling off the shoot for her famous item number, ‘Pink Lips’ from the movie Hate Story 2, because there were kids on the sets and she felt the scenes being shot were inappropriate for them. Along with this, she has also begun many new ventures and invested in many businesses. She began the company Sunlust Pictures with her partner and significant other, Daniel Weber. She also launched a perfume called ‘Lust’ in Dubai. Along with this, she has invested in a franchise for a box league cricket team, web-based short stories, and online games. Her success led to her being featured on BBC’s 100 most influential women list of 2016.
Sunny Leone has also been part of activism campaigns including the Rock ‘n’ Roll Los Angeles Half-Marathon to raise money for the American Cancer Society and has also posed for a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ad campaign with a rescued dog, encouraging pet owners to have their cats and dogs spayed and neutered. Hers is an all-rounded personality and yet Bollywood cannot seem to offer her more than item numbers or explicit roles. She takes it in her stride and does this with flair, being completely okay with her ‘sexy’ image and wearing her identity on her sleeve.
Recently, though, the woman who has been accused of destroying Indian culture has been in the limelight for a whole new reason – the amazing mom she has turned out to be. Sunny has been married to her partner, Daniel Weber since 2011. In July 2017, she and her husband adopted a girl from an orphanage in Latur, Maharashtra, and named her Nisha Kaur Weber. Earlier this year, they welcomed their twins, Asher Singh Weber and Noah Singh Weber via surrogacy. “I always pictured three children in my head but as time went by and no children… I would have been happy with one but God had different plans and made my dreams come true of a big family,” she was reported as saying to a reputed news portal. The journey of a former porn star making a comfortable life for herself and her family in India, thriving in business, raising children, all under the glare of constant limelight and society’s scrutiny is not at all an easy one; but it’s definitely an inspiring one.
A little over a month ago, Sunny Leone started a crowdfunding campaign in aid of a member of her team, who is fighting a kidney ailment. Sunny posted a message on Instagram on Wednesday, in which, she asked for help for Prabhakar, who she said, ‘takes care’ of her whole team while she is shooting. Prabhakar is also ‘Mamaji’ to Sunny’s three children, Nisha, Asher and Noah. “He is the sole breadwinner which makes it very difficult for his family to bear the expenses of his treatment. He has a wife, a mother and his child who depend on him. He has been fighting Kidney failure,” she posted on her Instagram account. Time and again, Sunny Leone has proved to be a successful entrepreneur, an unstoppable woman and above all, a good human being. This is what makes it twice as exciting to get the chance to watch her biopic, ‘Karenjit Kaur – The Untold Story of Sunny Leone’. Here’s hoping that going ahead, she gets to make movies or portray roles, which are as inspiring as she is. In the meantime, we, at What She Likes, salute Sunny Leone for how far she has come.