A lot is happening in Sunny Leone’s life. The adult actress-turned-reality star-turned-Bollywood actress is now also an author. Juggernaut, a new publishing house, has come out with a collection of 12 short stories, titled Sweet Dreams by Sunny. Her app-only book of ‘intimate encounters’ was launched earlier this month.
Add to this the release of One Night Stand, an erotic thriller, an item song in Shah Rukh Khan’s Raees, new fragrances to her perfume line, and a cosmetics line; Sunny definitely has her hands full. “Daniel (Webber, her husband and manager) and I look at the Sunny Leone brand and as an entrepreneur, you are always looking at expanding beyond your core business,” she explains.
The 34-year-old’s entrepreneurial avatar is at odds with her public persona, but that’s exactly who she is. “People see what they want to see. I have always been very business-minded. I was the girl who’d go door-to-door to raise money for the basketball team or had a lemonade stand in the summer and shovelled snow in the winters. I was always very enterprising. Through my high-school years, I knew that I wanted to own a business. I just didn’t know what it would be.”
Even when she started making adult films, Sunny knew she had to be her own boss. “I started my own website. I learnt web design and editing videos, and how to increase traffic. That’s how my business started. I didn’t think of it as porn or anything bad… for me, it was business and nothing more.” This is the attitude that’s been a cornerstone in Sunny’s journey from the home of a conservative Punjabi migrant family in Ontario to being the Penthouse Pet of 2003 and being a movie star in Bollywood.
Earlier this year, Sunny was at the receiving end of a rather misogynistic interview for a news channel, which not only went viral but also earned her many fans because of the way she handled the questions. At that time when she said, “There’s no way I can change the way people look at me with this one interview”, it was the last thing she expected. “I really didn’t know the response to that interview would be so positive. Honestly, I was very scared because of the tone of the questions. I didn’t expect so much support from within the industry and from the audience. It was an incredible feeling. It was like people saw me for who I am for the first time,” she says with a smile.
Sunny hasn’t had as much success as an actress in the last year. Her last two films, Kuch Kuch Locha Hai and Mastizaade bombed at the box office. “I am still finding my feet as an actor. I know that I have to prove myself as an entertainer. I am hoping to be able to do that with One Night Stand. I don’t have a mentor in the industry, so I don’t know if the choices that Daniel and I are making are correct. There will be some hits and misses, I guess,” she says with a shrug.
On the upside was that one phone call to shoot with Shah Rukh Khan. “Honestly, I thought it was a prank call,” Sunny remembers with a laugh. “It was so cool to shoot with him. It was one of the high points of my career. I couldn’t believe that I was shooting with him! I was so nervous, but Shah Rukh was really nice and put me at ease. What more could I ask for!”
While Sunny is counting her blessings, there is her new book of short stories. “I had fun writing the stories. It was also hard because I had never done anything like this before. They are just stories of intimate encounters between two people—a woman who loses her husband, a man and woman sitting next to each other on a flight, or a guy who wants to connect with a girl from a small town. I am an absolute romantic and these stories are all about passion. I am quite excited to see how people react to this new medium that I am experimenting with. I wanted to try my hand at something new.”