SHERMAN OAKS, Calif. — Former adult star Sunny Leone has become a “girl-power icon” in Bollywood, according to a front-page article today in the Los Angeles Times.
The Times piece captures her numerous business decisions since she left porn, such as her move to mainstream Indian filmmaking, her mobile app erotic stories deal and her marketing efforts for a brand of condoms called Manforce.
Leone leaped into adult entertainment in the early 2000s and signed a contract with Vivid Entertainment.
Leone later become Penthouse Pet of the Year and earned an XBIZ Award in 2008 as Web Babe of the Year and 2012 with her website, SunnyLeone.com, which took away Porn Star Site of the Year in 2012.
She even launched a production company called SunLust and created a sex toy line.
But she also gradually crept past porn. Leone's first mainstream appearance was in 2005, when she was a red carpet reporter for the MTV Awards on MTV India.
“At the height of her success, she left adult entertainment behind and found an unlikely second act in India, where her parents were born,” the Times piece said.
The article goes on to describe her popularity as a leading lady in Bollywood.
“Anyone with an Internet connection can watch Leone do a lot more than kiss, and many Indians have. She consistently ranks as the most Googled person in the country, less for her roles in a dozen-odd Bollywood B-movies than for her previous career as one of the biggest porn stars in America.”
Leone, now 35, said her stars became aligned at the right time, catapulting her into the mainstream limelight and breaking barriers in India.
“For someone with my background to cross over to the mainstream, it’s next to impossible,” she told the Times.
Her recent successes, the Times reported, have clearly been mounted by her steadfast attitude that refuses to look back negatively at her past work in porn.
“In the last year, Sunny has transitioned from being an ex-adult film star who was on the fringes of Bollywood to an actress who is increasingly getting stronger roles and who has appeared as a very calm, strong and confident woman in the media — a woman who neither denies her past nor is guilt-ridden about it,” said Chiki Sarkar, the founder of Juggernaut Books, a digital publisher that recently got Leone to write 12 erotic short stories for a mobile app.
In India, “she’s become a bit of a ‘girl-power icon,’” Sarkar said.
Today’s Los Angeles Times article can be read here.