Where Is Monica Lewinsky Now? A Look at the Activist's Life 26 Years After Bill Clinton Scandal (2024)

Where Is Monica Lewinsky Now? A Look at the Activist's Life 26 Years After Bill Clinton Scandal (1)

It’s been 25 years since Monica Lewinsky was thrust into the national spotlight after her affair with then-President Bill Clinton.

Lewinsky was fresh out of college when she met Clinton in 1995 during his first term as president of the United States. Over the next two years, the pair became intimately involved — exchanging gifts, making late-night phone calls and engaging in a sexual relationship.

“At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss. And at the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences,” Lewinsky shared in a 2015 TED Talk that has since been viewed more than 21 million times.

In 1998, Lewinsky and Clinton’s affair was made public following a series of legal investigations, several recorded conversations and one conservative news report. Overnight, Lewinsky’s life was turned upside down, and she was suddenly the subject of intense media and online scrutiny.

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“Not a day goes by that I am not reminded of my mistake, and I regret that mistake deeply,” she said in her TED Talk. “In 1998, after having been swept up in an improbable romance, I was then swept up into the eye of a political, legal and media maelstrom like we had never seen before.”

Amid the subsequent legal proceedings, Lewinsky was hounded by the public and the paparazzi. In July 1998, she agreed to testify before a grand jury and handed over a dark blue dressthat she said she had worn while she was intimate with Clinton. In exchange, she was granted immunity — and then attempted to assimilate back into her daily life. After initially trying to embrace life as a public figure, Lewinsky ultimately stepped out of the public eye and remained silent for almost a decade.

But in recent years, Lewinsky has returned to the spotlight — this time in the hopes of helping others who have been shamed and cyberbullied. She has successfully rebranded herself as a writer and activist, speaking out against online harassment. In 2021, she started her own production company, aiming to give a platform to others who have been silenced.

Read ahead to learn more about Monica Lewinsky’s life following the scandal, and where she is today.

What happened between Lewinsky and Clinton?

Where Is Monica Lewinsky Now? A Look at the Activist's Life 26 Years After Bill Clinton Scandal (2)

In 1995, Lewinsky began working as an unpaid summer intern at the White House. According to the Washington Post, she was just 21 years old when she met Clinton, who was then serving his first term as president and was 27 years her senior. The pair reportedly first crossed paths while Lewinsky was working in the office of White House chief of staff Leon Panetta, who worked closely with and was appointed by Clinton.

By November of that year, Lewinsky had accepted a paying job in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, and around the same time, she began a sexual relationship with Clinton. According to independent counsel Ken Starr, who had been investigating Clinton at the time, the pair had 10 sexual encounters over the next two years, during which they communicated often and presented each other with small gifts.

“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?” Lewinsky later wrote in Vanity Fair.

In April 1996, Lewinsky was transferred from her job in the White House to a public affairs position at the Pentagon as some of her superiors began to grow concerned she was spending too much time with Clinton. Despite the transfer, the pair continued to have sexual encounters until Clinton ended the affair in May 1997, after which they remained in contact.

How was Lewinsky and Clinton’s affair made public?

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Following the conclusion of Lewinsky and Clinton’s affair, Lewinsky confided in her Pentagon co-worker Linda Tripp. During conversations between the two women, Lewinsky detailed the affair she had had with President Clinton. Unbeknownst to Lewinsky, Tripp had begun recording their private conversations in late 1997. Tripp later shared these recordings with a literary agent and a reporter from Newsweek — although the outlet did not move forward with the story at that time.

Meanwhile, Clinton was under investigation for several different allegations, including claims from former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones, who said that the president had sexually harassed her while he was governor of Arkansas. In October 1997, the team behind the case were anonymously tipped off about a possible Lewinsky-Clinton affair. Then, in December 1997, Lewinsky was subpoenaed by lawyers for Jones’ suit against Clinton.

During Lewinsky’s final visit to the White House that month, Clinton allegedly encouraged her to be “evasive” with investigators, according to CNN. Her lawyer later said that she could deny the affair in an affidavit to avoid being deposed in Jones’ case. In January 1998, Lewinsky officially signed the affidavit, claiming not to have had a sexual relationship with Clinton.

Shortly after, Tripp brought her recordings to Starr, who had been investigating Clinton’s involvement in an allegedly fraudulent real estate deal. The Justice Department permitted Starr to investigate Lewinsky under the possibility of perjury, witness tampering and obstruction of justice in the Jones case — and soon after, the FBI questioned Lewinsky.

One day later, on Jan. 17, 1998, Clinton denied the affair during a sworn deposition as part of the Jones lawsuit — which would later play a role in his impeachment trial. That same day, the Drudge Report, a conservative news aggregator, broke the news of Clinton and Lewinsky’s affair, reporting that Newsweek opted not to publish their article exposing the scandal. Founder Matt Drudge has never explained how he found out about the affair.

In the days that followed, Clinton publicly denied his relationship with Lewinsky, delivering his now-infamous line, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky."

How did the public react to the news of their affair?

Where Is Monica Lewinsky Now? A Look at the Activist's Life 26 Years After Bill Clinton Scandal (4)

News of Lewinsky and Clinton’s romantic relationship dominated the media. Lewinsky spent weeks hiding from paparazzi and the public at her mother’s apartment; her lawyer only allowed her to leave for doctor’s appointments and the occasional supervised outing.

Over the next few months, everything Lewinsky did was publicized. She was frequently targeted by cyberbullies and was subject to cruel jokes on late-night talk shows. “The public humiliation was excruciating. Life was almost unbearable,” she later said.

“In 1998, when news of my affair with Bill Clinton broke, I was arguably the most humiliated person in the world. Thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the internet,” Lewinsky wrote in Vanity Fair.

Looking back on the experience during her TED Talk, Lewinsky said she was “swept up” into a news cycle that had never been seen before. She recalled being “branded as a tramp, tart, slu*t, whor*” and “bimbo.” She noted that people who spoke about her seemed to forget she was a human with feelings too.

“I was known by many, but actually known by few. I get it. It was easy to forget ‘that woman’ was dimensional and had a soul,” she said.

The intense public criticism eventually led Lewinsky down a dark path of serious suicidal temptations. In Vanity Fair, Lewinsky recalled a time when her mother would not let her out of her sight, sitting by her bed at night, worried that she might take her own life.

“The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life — a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death,” she wrote, adding, “I have never actually attempted suicide, but I had strong suicidal temptations several times during the investigations and during one or two periods after.”

What did Lewinsky do after the scandal?

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After agreeing to an in-depth interview with prosecutors and in front of a grand jury, Starr granted Lewinsky immunity. Although the legal protection limited what she could speak about publicly, she tried to embrace her new life as a public figure. She told her side of the story to biographer Andrew Morton for the book Monica's Story and gave a televised interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20 that, according to CNN, was watched live by 70 million people.

In 1999, she launched a handbag line called The Real Monica Inc., inspired by her love of sewing and knitting. She began making bags at the height of the Clinton scandal when she had extra time on her hands and decided to sell them after getting a positive response from friends.

“Quite frankly, the name is what attracts people to the product, but what's going to satisfy the customer is that it's a great product,” she told The New York Times in 2000. “I don't want people to think I'm taking advantage of this.”

She later signed on to host the reality dating show Mr. Personality and appeared as herself on Saturday Night Live. Lewinsky also took on a gig as a spokesperson for the dieting company Jenny Craig. But Lewinsky’s decision to face the public didn’t come without controversy. Some claimed she was trying to capitalize on her notoriety — on CNN in 2000, she told Larry King she was still trying to pay off her enormous legal bills.

“Apparently, others talking about me is okay; me speaking out for myself is not. I turned down offers that would have earned me more than $10 million, because they didn’t feel like the right thing to do. Over time, the media circus quieted down, but it never quite moved on, even as I attempted to move on,” she later wrote in Vanity Fair.

What happened when Lewinsky left the spotlight for a decade?

Where Is Monica Lewinsky Now? A Look at the Activist's Life 26 Years After Bill Clinton Scandal (6)

Lewinsky eventually stepped away from the spotlight. In 2005, she moved to England and enrolled at the London School of Economics.

“I moved to England to study, to challenge myself, to escape scrutiny and to reimagine my identity. My professors and fellow students at the London School of Economics were wonderful — welcoming and respectful. I had more anonymity in London, perhaps due to the fact that I spent most of my waking hours in class or buried in the library,” Lewinsky recalled.

In 2006, she graduated with a master’s degree in social psychology, hoping it would be a “gateway to a more normal life.” Over the next few years, she moved around the U.S., living in Los Angeles, New York and Portland, Oregon.

She applied to jobs relating to “creative communication” and “branding,” with an emphasis on charity campaigns, to no avail. Companies often worried about her history or wanted her to be a public spokesperson for the organization. She eventually realized that “traditional employment” would not be an option for her.

“​​I’ve managed to get by (barely, at times) with my own projects, usually with startups that I have participated in, or with loans from friends and family,” she said in 2014.

Despite financially struggling, Lewinsky stayed away from the spotlight, continually denying press requests and putting off opportunities — partially in fear of interfering with Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Why did Lewinsky embrace being a public figure again?

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In 2014, Lewinsky ultimately made a return to the public eye. After almost a decade of laying low, she wanted to use her platform for good and to help others who had also experienced bullying.

She wrote in Vanity Fair that her opinion about remaining reclusive first shifted after speaking with her mother about the death of college freshman Tyler Clementi, who died by suicide in 2010 after he was secretly live-streamed kissing another man. Although she admitted her story was not equivalent to that of Tyler’s, she wished she could have told him that it was possible to get through such a trying time.

“In the wake of Tyler’s tragedy, my own suffering took on a different meaning,” she wrote. “Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation. The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?”

What does Lewinsky do for a living now?

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In 2014, Lewinsky made her return to the public eye with an essay titled “Shame and Survival” in Vanity Fair — her debut as a contributing editor for the magazine. For the first time in more than a decade, she opened up about her past and expressed regret for all that had transpired.

“I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened,” she wrote.

Following Lewinsky’s return to the spotlight, she dedicated a large portion of her time to advocating against online bullying. She has spoken publicly about being an advocate for others and creating a safer social media environment. She also became a strategic advisor for the anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolution, which was founded by MacKenzie Bezos.

In 2019, Lewinsky signed on as a producer on Impeachment: American Crime Story, Ryan Murphy’s series chronicling her affair with Clinton and his impeachment trial. While she had previously turned down many offers to tell her story, she told Variety that the idea of working with Murphy was “very exciting.” Lewinsky became the main consultant for the show, and star Beanie Feldstein said that Lewinsky approved “every word” of the script.

“Obviously I have personal and selfish reasons, all sorts of reasons, for having participated in Impeachment, but the larger goal is how to move the conversation forward, a sort of collective shift — whether it's a sex scandal or not, and the kind of blame that was put on a young person and the kind of erasing and turning a blind eye to where responsibility really sat," she told PEOPLE.

In 2021, Lewinsky founded her own production company, Alt Ending Productions, and signed a first-look deal for scripted dramas with 20th Television. Lewinsky explained that with the company, she hopes to share the “voices or perspectives” of people that audiences “historically don’t hear from or see.”

“I’m interested in storytelling that is entertaining, thought-provoking and emotion-stirring — that moves a conversation forward by exploring the human condition from an unexpected lens,” she shared in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter.

Most recently, she was an executive producer on the Max documentary 15 Minutes of Shame, an investigation into public shaming and cyber-harassment that put a spotlight on those who have experienced it firsthand.

In February 2024, Lewinsky became the face of Reformation's "You've Got the Power" campaign at 50, hoping to build voter registration awareness. Lewinsky posed for photos in the brand's new workwear collection, which will launch with a new voting hub online.

"Voting is using our voice to be heard and it’s the most defining — and powerful — aspect of democracy," Lewinsky said in press release. "Voting is always important, but the stakes are especially high this year with voter frustration and apathy threatening to meaningfully impact turnout."

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Where Is Monica Lewinsky Now? A Look at the Activist's Life 26 Years After Bill Clinton Scandal (2024)

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