Michelle Anne Sinclair was born in Biloxi, Mississippi, the second of eight children. She grew up in a Mormon family. Despite the strictness of the religion, Sinclair said that she grew up in a chaotic environment. She describes several incidents that occurred throughout her childhood and teenage years, such as stealing her father's car, leading to her arrest; and having a punk rocker living in her house at age 14. The family had German, Scottish, and Cherokee Indian roots. She experienced her first kiss at age 12, got her first tattoo at 13, experienced intercourse for the first time at 14, and experienced anal sex for the first time at 16. Sinclair dropped out of high school and moved out of her parents' house at 15. She also stayed in Utah for a short period of her life. Prior to her pornography career, she worked for 7-11, Victoria’s Secret, Sears and Subway. She was formerly engaged to fellow porn actor Nacho Vidal. On April 11, 2004, however married Patrick Peter Earley of Kamloops BC, with absolutely no ties to the adult industry....weird. She then married Aiden Kelly in Las Vegas, Nevada. She had a daughter, Myla Kelly, who was born in January 2005.
Her interests include Pilates, yoga, gardening, movies, singing, aquariums, cooking, traveling and outdoor activities.
Her introduction to the adult industry came about when an agent came to Utah to see one of her friends, who introduced him to her. The next day she flew to Los Angeles with the intention of joining the industry. Immediately prior to starting her porn career she was dancing in a club in Utah. The pseudonym "Belladonna" came in part from a friend in Utah named Bella; later, an early agent suggested Bella Donna as it means "beautiful woman" in Italian. Her motivation to join the adult industry was mainly financial.
Her career began in 2000 when she was 18. Her first film was Real Sex Magazine. As the scene involved anal sex she had to perform her first enema, and she was also required to urinate on her co-star. One of her early films featured Sinclair in a rough group sex scene with twelve men, staged in a prison. In this scene she was choked, slapped and verbally abused and often appeared to be on the verge of tears. She has since appeared in over 300 adult films, including titles such as Service Animals 6 & 7, She-Male Domination Nation, Bella Loves Jenna, Back 2 Evil, Weapons of Ass Destruction, and Fashionistas Safado: The Challenge. In 2002 she featured in the multi award-winning BDSM themed Fashionistas; its director John Stagliano described her as "a woman with the most incredible sexual abilities I’ve ever seen." As well as Stagliano she has often been directed by Nacho Vidal, Jules Jordan and Rocco Siffredi. In 2003 she signed a contract with Sineplex, for whom she also directed.
She has appeared several times in the reality television series Family Business, which focuses on the life of porn director Adam Glasser a.k.a. "Seymore Butts". In 2004 she was one of a number of porn stars photographed by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders for a "coffee table book" on the adult industry, XXX: 30 Porn-Star Portraits; she also appears in the HBO documentary Thinking XXX about the making of the book.
Belladonna was featured on the cover of metalcore band Asking Alexandria's sophomore album titled Reckless & Relentless, where she is seen sitting in a dirty, dark room. She is also later featured in their short film Through Sin + Self Destruction.
In a 2007 interview with the Salt Lake City Weekly, Sinclair expressed some regret about aspects of her career in pornography, particularly her early notoriety for performing acts and scenes that many other performers regarded as extreme or taboo. Lamenting the lack of guidance from more experienced actresses, Sinclair described an extended period of clinical depression. Sinclair stressed in this same interview, however, that she took responsibility for all her decisions and that she was never forced to perform.
In June 2010 it was announced that she would be part of the cast of the upcoming horror movie Stripped.
In 2011, she was named by CNBC as one of the 12 most popular stars in porn. CNBC noted that while she had stepped back from acting to pursue directing and producing, she has maintained a loyal fan base, and has been nominated for 42 AVN awards and won 10 in the course of her career.
Her career in the pornography business was followed for two years by a crew from ABC Television, culminating in a January 2003 interview with Diane Sawyer as part of a Primetime Thursday segment on pornography. At one point in the interview Belladonna broke down in tears, when Sawyer asked her, "You keep describing these awful things that happened to you. Yet, you keep smiling. Why?" Belladonna's smile wavered and her eyes watered up. "It's so I don't start crying," she said. Part of the footage for the segment was an interview with Belladonna's sister, who had moved out to Los Angeles at Belladonna's urging, and who had gotten a job at Red Light District Films. Belladonna's sister revealed on-camera that despite her claims, Belladonna was actually quite depressed, and had recently been hospitalized following a suicide attempt. Another topic discussed in the interview was the fact that Belladonna had contracted chlamydia. The publicity provided by the interview boosted Belladonna's career.
The interview has since been used by a number of anti-pornography groups to support their case that pornography is exploitative of the women who appear in it; nevertheless, Sinclair remained an active performer in the industry. In later interviews, Sinclair claimed that she had never intended to make "anti-porn" statements. In one interview, when she was asked if she were happy with how the interview came out, her reply was:
ABC contacted her once to do a follow-up to the interview; she refused saying, "No thank you. I don't want to be embarrassed again." Several figures in the porn industry objected to her comments on the program.
In an interview with Vice magazine, Sinclair admitted that despite being depressed at the time, the interview was embarrassing, and that when she watched it, there were instances in the piece that were untrue.
In August 2007, Sinclair decided to semi-retire from performing with other people over concerns of STDs, specifically herpes. She thought she had contracted herpes in 2002 and was worried the disease had spread; however it was later discovered that it was a skin rash rather than herpes. Regardless, she still decided to semi-retire.
In 2008, she came out of retirement, and has filmed a number of hardcore scenes. She appeared in Digital Playground's Pirates II, the sequel to their top-selling DVD, Pirates. She has also appeared recurringly in James Gunn's PG Porn.
In July 2012, she announced via Twitter that she was "no longer interested in having sex on camera" and would be pursuing her other interests.
In 2014, Sinclair made her non-pornographic feature film debut in John Wildman's The Ladies of the House, a horror film about a group of female cannibals.
In 2014, Sinclair appeared briefly in Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice as the sister of a biker.
The AVN Awards are sponsored and presented by the American adult video industry trade magazine AVN (Adult Video News). Belladona has been nominated for 43 AVN Awards, of which she has won 10. In 2011, she was inducted into the AVN Hall of Fame.
The XRCO Awards are given by the X-Rated Critics Organization annually to people working in adult entertainment.
The Fans of Adult Media and Entertainment Awards (F.A.M.E.) were created in 2006 by Genesis magazine, Adam & Eve Sex Toys, WantedList.com and AVN as a means for the public to vote for their favorites.
Ninfa Prizes are awarded at the annual Spanish pornographic film festival, the Festival Internacional de Cine Erótico de Barcelona.