It is near impossible to fit Sunny Leone in a box. The daughter of Sikh Punjabi parents who had roots in Tibet, Delhi, and central India, Ms. Leone was raised in Canada and worked quite a few jobs before finding a career in front of the camera here in the United States. While on camera, Ms. Leone was recognized by Maxim and Penthouse in addition to serving as a personality for MTV India. Sure, she also regularly bore all, but as if to maintain her distance from the proverbial box Ms. Leone has since found a new outlet: Bollywood.
After making a few appearances on the Indian reality show Bigg Boss, Ms. Leone made her Bollywood debut in mid-August as the leading star in Pooja Bhatt’s erotic thriller Jism 2. The film has grossed nearly US $7 million in its first three weeks as a theatrical release, a figure that is “average” by Indian standards. Still, Ms. Leone was well received in her Bollywood debut and the actress will be heading back to India during the Fall to secure a few more movie deals.
Just before her departure to the other side of the world, Ms. Leone spent a few minutes chatting with Buzzine about the jobs she had growing up, her love of hockey, and the development of her Bollywood career.
Parimal M. Rohit: Before you were in front of the camera, you had a few everyday jobs, right? At a bakery, a Jiffy Lube, and a tax firm? Tell us about those jobs. What were your specific jobs there? What were your career ambitions at that time?
Sunny Leone: Yes and yes. At the bakery I ran the register, made sandwiches, made sure the place was clean, wrote happy birthday on cakes, and helped all the customers. At Jiffy Lube I ran the register, greeted customers, told them about the all the services that was done to their car, and occasionally helped out with changing the oil. At the tax firm I ran the front desk, helped out the HR department, did the spreadsheets for the accounting department and helped out one of the Reps with all their filing and basic office work. I was the youngest one at the firm and by the time I left was helping out every department with odd jobs to make their life easier. I always wanted to own my own business. The woman who owned the tax firm was someone that I admired and wanted to be like always. She was so smart, professional, and everything a successful businesswoman should be. But at that time I didn’t know what type of business I would end up owning.
PMR: You also played hockey? Not surprising considering your Canadian roots. Do you still follow the game? Do you have a favorite team? How cool was it that the L.A. Kings won the Stanley Cup a few months back? Did you go to any games?
SL: Yes. I don’t follow the game anymore but still love watching a hockey game in person. Favorite team is the Toronto maple leafs. I think it’s amazing. I was in India when they won and wish I were here to watch the game. I don’t go as much as I would like to.
PMR: Can you tell us about the red carpet work you did with MTV Awards for MTV India? How familiar were you about Indian entertainment (such as Bollywood and popular Indian music) prior to that gig?
SL: I co-hosted the red carpet for MTV Desi. I had the chance to interview some amazing super stars. I wasn’t very familiar with Bollywood at all except that I grew up watching Bollywood movies always.
PMR: When did you realize being in front of the camera in any capacity was the right career path for you?
SL: I wanted to model since I was 12years old when I took my first photography workshop in school and the school teacher said I should be a model and since then I wanted to be in entertainment.
PMR: Did that time coincide with when you entered into the adult film industry?
SL: Not at all, I never imagined I would ever work in adult (film) nor was it my plan at any point till 19 when it was offered to me.
PMR: Was there an adjustment of sorts when you transitioned to Indian reality television in Bigg Boss?
SL: The adjustments were just that I had to learn Hindi fast and be left in a house without my friends, family and all the things I am used to in my regular life.
PMR: Speaking of Bigg Boss, how did you see your participation in that show enhancing or altering your career? What doors did you think would open on the other side?
SL: I didn’t think about any of this until I was out of the house. My main goal while in the house was just to survive. I honestly thought it wouldn’t, but I was completely wrong and it’s opened more doors then I could ever think of.
PMR: Similarly, now that you did ‘Jism 2,’ is there a future for you in Bollywood?
SL: I really hope so. My next movie is Ragini MMS 2 and I am hopefully going to be signing on other projects in the near future.
PMR: When all the dust has settled and, in your later year, you reflect back upon your career, how would you sum up your career? Just the same, if you could leave a legacy behind, what would that be?
SL: A rollercoaster that’s only begun. I am still trying to wrap my brain around everything and taking it one day at a time. Well I think it’s a little premature to think about legacy. I am just being me right now and perusing my dreams.
PMR: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
SL: Five years, hopefully still making Bollywood movies. In 10 hopefully the same :) … One of the biggest lessons I have learned in entertainment is that the second you set goals and limits the complete opposite happens.
PMR: Who are your inspirations?
SL: Businesswomen and leaders. My mother and father. My inspirations come from people who are very business minded and work for themselves at creating great brands.
PMR: If you can define the ideal project for you to work on, what would that project be and what would your role be?
SL: I love comedy movies and believe that it would be a great fit for me.
PMR: Finally, where can fans find out more about you and what you are working on?