Sonya Jehan was born to Noor Jehan's eldest son, Akbar Hussain Rizvi and Florence Rizvi who is French. She was born and grew up in Karachi. Her original name is Sonya Rizvi but she changed her last name to Jehan in honour of her grandmother, Noor Jehan. Jehan had her early education in Pakistan, she did her O-levels from Centre of Advanced Studies and she did her A-Levels from The Lyceum School. She received a degree in design from Central St Martins College of Art and Design.
In 2005, Sonya did an advertisement for Lux Soap. Same year, Sonya Jehan made her film debut with the romantic historic film Taj Mahal, an Eternal Love Story opposite Kabir Bedi. Jehan played the role of Mumtaz Mahal, who is betrayed by the film's central character. The film received mixed reviews from critics, and was moderately successful at the box office; however, Jehan's performance was praised by film critics.
Jehan's second release, was Sudhir Mishra's romantic drama Khoya Khoya Chand with Shiney Ahuja. The film revolves around the lifestyle of celebrities with aplomb with the 1950s film industry as its backdrop. The film received positive reviews from critics, and Jehan earned critical acclaim for her performance.
Jehan next appeared as religious American Muslim professor Haseena, in the social drama My Name Is Khan, her first collaboration with Karan Johar. The film set in America received positive feedback from critics and her performance was praised in particular. The film was the most expensive Bollywood film of 2010 and also the highest-value buy over for any Indian film, surpassing the previous record of INR900 million (US$14 million) and was declared as the highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2010.
Sonya Jehan made her Hollywood debut with Mira Nair political thriller drama film The Reluctant Fundamentalist, based on the 2007 novel, same name by Mohsin Hamid. Jehan played role of professor Nadia, alongside Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson and Meesha Shafi. Her performance was critically praised. The film was critically and commercially successful and earned $2,028,731.
She has established herself as a commercially successful actress. In addition to acting in films, she is also the owner of one of Karachi's French restaurants, Cafe Flo.
She is the granddaughter of singer Noor Jehan and Shaukat Hussain Rizvi, niece of Zille Huma and cousin of Ahmed Ali Butt.