Political Household Name Monica Lewinsky Is The Daughter Of A Latin American immigrant, And Other Facts
Although Monica Lewinsky became a household name in 1998 due to the revelation of her affair with President Bill Clinton and the subsequent media circus surrounding the scandal, few know Lewinsky’s personal story. For example, it’s hardly common knowledge that Monica Lewinsky is a Latina. Her father, Bernard Lewinsky, was born in El Salvador and emigrated to the U.S. when he was 14 years old. As a daughter of a Latin American immigrant, Lewinsky’s appointment to the White House was especially important to her family–a culmination of the American Dream her father had fantasized about when he moved to the U.S.
In light of the changing attitude towards Lewinsky’s role in the affair with President Bill Clinton and her current occupation as an anti-bullying activist, we decided to explore the little-known life of Monica Lewinsky. Read on to discover both her life before and after the pivotal affair that made her famous.
1. Lewinsky’s father, Bernard Lewinsky was born in San Salvador, El Salvador
Bernard Lewinsky’s family were German Jews who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s to escape persecuation.
2. Lewinsky’s father emigrated to the United States when he was fourteen.
Lewinsky and his family moved from El Salvador to make a life for themselves in the United States. They settled in the San Francisco area.
3. Monica’s mother, Marcia Kay Vilensky, married Bernard Lewinsky when he was 26 and she was 20 years old
Monica Lewinsky was born in San Francisco in 1973. Soon, the Lewinsky family relocated to the affluent neighborhood of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles. By this time, her father was a successful Oncologist with a thriving practice.
4. The Lewinsky family enjoyed an affluent lifestyle
Due to Dr. Lewinsky’s substantial salary from his succesful oncology practice, the Lewinsky family lived an enviable life, complete with first-class travel and private tennis lessons.
5. Monica’s parents had a contentious marriage that ended in divorce.
During the divorce proceedings, Lewis claimed that her husband had been verbally abusive to both her and her children. The acrimonious nature of the divorce reportedly profoundly impacted the young Monica.
6. Lewinsky attended a series of private schools in her youth.
Lewinsky’s family spared no expense in her education, sending her to private grade schools and eventually, the prestigious private school, Bel Air Prep.
7. Teachers later described Lewinsky as a “hard worker who put in long, long hours in the theater department”
According to friends and teachers who knew her in high school, Lewinsky was sweet, outgoing, energetic, ambitious and driven. She was involved in choir, her theater’s tech department, and often baby-sat for neighbors. By all means, she was a normal young girl who some described as “unremarkable”.
8. Accounts from friends and family also describe Monica as “starving for love” as a teenager with an “inner hunger” for male attention
Close friends from Lewinsky’s childhood also revealed to reporters that her teen years were wracked with obsessive crushes that would foreshadow her approach to future relationships. She was also known to struggle with over-eating and body image issues.
9. While she was a college student, Lewinsky engaged in an illicit affair with her former high school Drama teacher
Lewinsky’s relationship with her married former Drama teacher later came back to haunt her when he revealed he revealed their affair to the press during the height of the Clinton affair media frenzy. Her former lover revealed private details of their love life while his lawyer claimed that teenage Lewinsky has been “sex-obsessed”.
10. After high school, Lewinsky enrolled in community college and soon transferred to Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon
After graduating high school, Lewinsky first attended a two-year community college, and then transferred to Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
11. Through a family connection, Lewinsky landed an internship at the White House
According to Lewinsky’s parents, her placement at the White House had been extremely validating for them–especially to her father. ‘‘I’m an immigrant from El Salvador,” said Bernard Lewinsky. “It was awesome and unbelievable that she would be working at the White House.”
12. Lewinsky moved to Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1995 where she settled in quickly to the local social scene
Lewinsky was described by friends and colleauges as being extremely outgoing, warm and friendly. She was also known for possessing a certain L.A. glamour that many staffers in D.C. were lacking. She loved to go out for drinks, shop, and talk about men.
13. According to contemporary sources, Lewinsky was attracted to relationships with older people
According to friends that knew her at the time, Lewinsky gravitated towards romantic relationships with older men and mentor-mentee relationships with older women. Her friends speculate that her pursuit of these relationships stemmed from underlying issues she had with her parents’ traumatic divorce.
14. Lewinsky said her “crush” on President Clinton started when she was in his presence for the first time
In the documentary “The Clinton Affair”, Lewinsky revealed she was “struck” by Clinton when she first met him. “He had this ability to hold everybody who was there,” she said. “Not just young women, not just older women, but young men, older men, gay straight–everybody is sort of starry-eyed in his presence.”
15. Lewinsky and Clinton allegedly began their affair in November 1995
Their sexual relationship lasted from November 1995 and March 1997 where they engaged in nine sexual encounters in the Oval Office. According to evidence uncovered during the investigation into Clinton’s actions, they also exchanged gifts.
16. News of the scandal catapulted Lewinsky into notoriety and the international spotlight
After news of their affair broke in January 1998, the 24-year-old Lewinsky experienced intense media scrutiny. The White House staffer hid in her mother’s D.C. apartment to hide from the barrage of cameras and reporters.
17. After the scandal, Lewinsky experienced a celebrity-like status
After President Clinton’s impeachment trial, and its corresponding media circus, Lewinsky became somewhat of a pop culture icon. She was regularly spotted hanging with other celebrities like Tom Green and Alan Cumming and attended exclusive events.
18. In order to pay her extensive legal fees, Lewinsky accepted gigs hawking everything from diet plans to handbags
In 1999, Lewinsky designed and sold a line of handbags under the self-created designer label “The Real Monica, Inc”. Lewinsky credited the line with helping her “cope during an almost unendurable time in [her] life”. In 2000, she signed a $1 million endorsement deal with Jenny Craig.
19. In the years since she left the Clinton scandal behind her, Lewinsky has since dedicated her life to educating the public to the dangers of bullying.
Lewinsky now uses her notoriety to discuss issues that are close to her heart–namely, presenting cyber-bullying. In fact, she has even given a Ted Talk on the dangers of bullying and the negative effects it can have on the victim’s mental health.
20. Now, in the post- #MeToo era, the public’s perception of Monica Lewinsky’s role in the affair with President Clinton has shifted
Back in the 1990s, much of the public thought of Lewinsky as a young homewrecker who seduced a married man. But, after the #MeToo reckoning, many people believe that President Clinton abused his power when he engaged in a relationship with Lewinsky. As for Lewinsky, she’s revealed that although she suffers PTSD from the ordeal, she insists that her relationship with President Clinton had been “consensual”. “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath,” she said. “When I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position”.