Stoya (born June 15, 1986 in Wilmington, North Carolina) is the stage name of an American pornographic actress and model. The stage name "Stoya" was her nickname before appearing in adult films, and is the shortened version of her family's last name. Stoya was born in North Carolina to a Serbian father and a Scottish mother. As a child, she wanted to become a dancer and started attending dance lessons at the age of three. She was home-schooled and got her high-school diploma before the age of sixteen. Because her father worked in IT, Stoya had access to a lot of electronics and gaming equipment, which she says developed her love for technology. “I was three when I was using DOS. My mom taught me how to read, and my dad taught me how to navigate DOS,” she has said. At a later age, Stoya moved to Delaware where she spent a semester at Delaware College of Art & Design, but dropped out because of her problem with authority. After relocating to Philadelphia, she attended a summer program at UArts. Some of her jobs in Philadelphia included being a secretary, flier distributor, and a go-go dancer. Stoya appeared in several music videos for bands that, according to her, "no one will ever hear of".

Stoya began posing for a friend of hers. That eventually led her to modeling and working for alt-erotic websites. One of the websites she had worked for asked if she was willing to do a softcore scene for a DVD they were putting out. Stoya claims that she discovered pornography through an interest in BDSM and via fetish newsgroups on the internet. She states that few adult films interested her, and prefers those with artistic and fetish themes. Stoya was featured in two DVD productions for Razordolls and made a non-sex, cameo appearance in two Vivid Alt titles before being contacted by Digital Playground with the proposition to perform in a hardcore, lesbian scene with Sophia Santi. The scene in question never happened, but in August 2007, she met with several Digital Playground representatives and was asked if she would star in a pornographic movie with male talent. After careful consideration, Stoya agreed. In October 2007, Digital Playground signed her to an exclusive, three-year contract. The first scene she shot for them was for Stoya Video Nasty (promoted on the DVD box as the first film featuring her engaging in heterosexual intercourse with a male actor) but her first movie released by the company was Jack's POV 9. On AVN Movie Adult Awards in 2009 Stoya obtained Best Starlet award. Stoya enjoys art and one of her hobbies is creating clothes which she wears in her scenes and during erotic conventions. She likes reading, with sci fi and fantasy being among her favorite genres. Stoya avoids relationships because she believes that monogamous commitment will affect her ability to deliver the best possible performances in adult films. Stoya acknowledges the importance of social networking in her career; she's active on MySpace, Twitter, various internet forums, and maintains her blog at XCritic.