Monica Lewinsky is an American activist, television personality, and fashion designer. She is infamously known for her inappropriate relationship with former US President Bill Clinton. 

Monica Lewinsky early life

Monica Lewinsky was born Monica Samille Lewinsky on July 23, 1973, in San Francisco, California, to an oncologist father, Bernard Lewinsky and writer mother Marcia Kay Vilensky. Her parents got separated and divorced in 1987 and 1988 respectively, which had a significant effect on Monica’s life.

Following the divorce, her mother later got married to the former director of the Voice of America and media executive R. Peter Straus and her father got married to a woman named Barbara (current wife). 

Monica Lewinsky smiling, she has a bob cut

As a kid, Monica attended a religious school, Sinai Akiba Academy, and then went to John Thomas Dye School in Bel-Air for her primary education. Later she attended Beverly Hills High School and was transferred to Bel Air Prep (now known as Pacific Hills School), from where she graduated in 1991.

Lewinsky went to Santa Monica College and graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 1995 with a degree in psychology. 

A few months after her graduation, Monica got an opportunity to work as an unpaid intern for Leon Panetta, then White House Chief of Staff. In July 1995, she moved to Washington D.C to take over her position and later she was promoted to a paid position in December.

Monica Lewinsky Scandal!

In January 1998, it came to light that Lewinsky had a sexual relationship with then President Bill Clinton. According to Lewinsky, she had nine sexual encounters with the president including fellatio and other sexual acts in the Oval Office, between November 1995 and March 1997.   

In 1996, she had been transferred to the Pentagon by her superiors because of her growing closeness with Clinton. In September 1997, Monica told her defense department co-worker, Linda Tripp, about her relationship with the President.

Tripp then secretly began recording their telephone conversations where they discussed her relationship with Clinton. Lewinsky left the Pentagon position in December of 1997.

former White House Intern Monica Lewinsky and President Bill Clinton both smiling at the camera for a photograph

Clinton was then under investigation regarding a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed against him by his former employee Paula Jones. Linda Tripp found out that Lewinsky had sworn an affidavit in the case denying any physical relationship with Clinton and Lewinsky tried convincing Tripp to lie regarding that case. 

Tripp handed over their recorded conversations to the investigating officer Kenneth Star. The news of Clinton-Lewinsky relationship exploded in the media. The news became instantly viral and Lewinsky spent several weeks hiding from the media. She went to her mother’s residence hiding from unwanted public attention. 

On January 26, 1998, Clinton denied, under oath, having any sexual affair or relationship with Lewinsky.

I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky…there is not a sexual relationship, an improper sexual relationship or any other kind of improper relationship

Bill clinton

Lewinsky’s five-year relationship with Andy Bleiler, her former high school drama teacher, also came to limelight as Andy showed Starr various photographs and documents that Lewinsky had sent him. 

Clinton and Lewinsky were called to confront a grand jury where Lewinsky was granted transactional immunity by U.S Office of the Independent Council after her testimony.

Monica Lewinsky’s life after the scandal

Monica Lewinsky in her short hair and black coat holding her own biography book.

Lewinsky became a media fixation after the scandal. Monica’s immunity agreement restricted her to talk publicly about her relationship. But she did cooperate with Andrew Morton to write the biography Monica’s Story. 

Monica’s interview with ABC’s 20/20 journalist Barbara Walters was viewed by an audience of 70 million.

Monica made $500,000 for her contribution to the book and another $1 million from international rights to Barbara’s interview. In May 1999, she appeared as herself in an episode of Saturday Night Live. A few months later, she released her line of handbags.

I myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened. At the time—at least from my point of view—it was an authentic connection, with emotional intimacy, frequent visits, plans made, phone calls and gifts exchanged. In my early 20s, I was too young to understand the real-life consequences, and too young to see that I would be sacrificed for political expediency. I look back now, shake my head in disbelief, and wonder: what was I—what were we—thinking? I would give anything to go back and rewind the tape.

– Monica Lewinsky

Lewinsky also appeared in television commercials for Jenny Craig, Inc in early 2000. Her weight loss for the advertisement also managed to become the talk of the town. 

In 2005, she moved to London to study social psychology at the London School of Economics and graduated with a Master’s degree in December a year later.

Self-proclaimed patient zero of online harassment, Lewinsky now advocates for a safe and compassionate Internet. In March 2015, she delivered a TED talk on the subject and in June of the same year, she became a Bystander Revolution ambassador.