WIA: Sunny Leone
Each month, industry news media organization XBIZ spotlights the career accomplishments and outstanding contributions of Women in Adult. WIA profiles offer an intimate look at the professional lives of the industry's most influential female executives.
How did you get into the business side from performing?
I was introduced to the industry about nine years ago and did it because it sounded like fun. It wasn't something that I thought about beforehand, it just fell into my lap. Nothing prepared me for this job — it was all new to me. I saw that the way to make a long career in this industry was to own my own product and not just provide content for someone else. There was an opportunity to start a company with my partner so I took it and never looked back: We are now successfully releasing titles and enjoying the benefits of owning everything ourselves.
What changes have affected your work since you started?
Each year changed so much from the last that I would have to say everything about it affects my following year. We make mistakes in life or learn from past experiences, and that makes us grow as people. So there isn't one specific thing that affected my work. Early on I learned that this is a business and it's not just about making money and then spending it. I have the ability to be a leader in this industry and a role model for other performers. The key is to never dismiss a new idea — because you never know when something will pop up. We are always looking for new and creative people to work with. This is a brand we are creating, not just a set of pictures and video on a site.
What changes have affected you and your website(s) as the Internet has gone from exotic to commonplace?
Again, you have to see it as a business. In the past, it was easier to gain members but now the average surfer has more needs and more interests. I have for the first time partnered with another company to help my site reach the potential that it should and I am really proud of it. I believe there is a weeding process going on and I have aligned myself with the right people to stay competitive in this business. Our philosophy is simple: Be seen at all times. The more we can stay in everyone's face, the better we like it. My new partners have made it possible to take the site to a new level and I couldn't be happier.
What do you see as challenges to online adult enterprises as the economy tends to decline and discretionary spending slows? How are you approaching these challenges?
Industries are always changing and businesses always have to change to stay on top and keep making money. I believe we are going to go through a weeding process where companies are going to fold or sell to larger companies. The only way for a smaller business to do well is to be creative, do things that you would not normally do and really pay attention to your customer's needs. I partnered my website with one of the largest companies in our industry and that in itself helped me to do better than I have in all the years I have been in this business.
Does your work affect your personal life? How do you balance your work as a performer and your work as the operator of a website?
Yes, but only because it's a 24-hour job. You never really stop unless you force yourself. I have not gone on vacation in a long time, but now I have to really pay attention to my calendar and lock it in like a job. I guess it could be worse and I could not be working, but sometimes, just like most people, I would love a weekend getaway or — even better — my Saturday and Sunday off. I love my job though. I guess I can vacation when I am old.