It’s 9:58 pm
Welcome to another edition of “8 Questions With…..
I was a causal fan of Lydie Denier in the 90’s. I watched her play Jane in a 1991 remake of Tarzan that ran for 3 years (and quite charming) and later on she starred in Acapulco H.E.A.T.,a fun 1998 follow-up to a earlier series of the same name. I knew she was born in France and had some beautiful eyes….life went on and it wasn’t until the age of social media when I saw her name pop up on Facebook. As many have done,I sent a friend request and after a little while,she accepted it. (Personally,I think she saw the cheetah and thought he was very handsome).
It was then I saw why Benghazi mattered so much to Lydie,why she was so outspoken about the attack. She and Ambassador Stevens once had been engaged to be married and and were still extremely close when he was killed.
She shared with us that she was releasing a book about Chris,so that people would see that he was a human being,not just a name to be bandied about in heated debates and political rhetoric.
When Lydie reached out to me to mention her book,”A Voice For Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens” in my blog,I was touched and honored. I decided I could do better by her and asked Lydie for a interview and she graciously said “Yes”.
And now……”8 Questions with…….Lydie Denier”.
Please tell us a little about yourself, where were you born and what was growing up in your home like?
I was born on April 15th 1964 in Trignac, a little village in the countryside in South Brittany, France. The setting was straight out of a Jane Eyre novel and it shaped my entire life. A small house, white with yellow shutters, built in the middle of the woods, garnished the landscape. It was one of those cabins built to house fishermen during the long fishing seasons, well hidden in the middle of nowhere. It was so peaceful and quiet with just the sounds of frogs and crickets blending together as the sun set down. On a daily basis, my parents raged at each other in the kitchen. Divorce, I quietly thought.
It was a word I had learned at school. My mother’s screams were permanent. I quickly learned how to take care of myself and to not draw attention. It was when people forgot I existed that I felt the most peaceful. Drawing and writing became my refuge each day I came home from school. Finally, my mother left my father and they divorced. The worst part wasn’t all the change my mother brought, but the silence that came with it. Nobody said anything about how we’d lived before. It felt as if the changes themselves had just swept over us like some great wave, flattening whatever we’d once been. Night after night, I lay awake with my eyes burning, thinking of my father, and missing him.
(used by permission-Lydie Denier)
You got your first break into the entertainment industry as a folk singer, how did that come about?
Polygram was looking for a new face, someone who spoke French. I auditioned and was under contract for one year. I didn’t care much for the night life! I wanted to be an actor. Hollywood had such an impact on my life as a child. Growing up in the countryside of Brittany, France, there were always two American movies every Wednesday night and Sunday afternoons. They weren’t new releases, but they were always from the Hollywood era of the thirties and forties.
So I was not surprised in 1989, when the casting director for General Hospital, Marvin Page, told the producers he had a young Hedy Lamarr sitting in his office. I had grown up watching Hedy Lamarr films and in many ways these movies were my first acting class.
You were 24 when you made your Hollywood debut in “Bulletproof” with Gary Busey. What do you remember about making the movie and was it hard from going from a singer into an actress?
I was hired for a Valentine commercial for flowers. In the spot, I get a beautiful bouquet from my husband, and I had one line to say: “Of course, I have something for you!”
Gary Busey saw the commercial, called the director of “Bulletproof”, Steve Carver, and told him: “Find this girl, I want her to play my girlfriend.” They had no idea that at the time, my English wasn’t very good, so production hired a coach on the set. I practiced again and again each line. I had a great time. Everybody was so nice, and Gary was really patient with me. He spent lots of time in between scenes making me rehearse each scene we had to do together.
How did Chris Stevens and you first meet? What was your first reaction to each other?
I had traveled to Cairo as the guest of honor to help celebrate the inauguration of a French edition of the city’s paper, Al Ahram. It turned out that Tarzan, dubbed in Arabic, had become a huge hit in Egypt. A few Egyptian people significant in the movie industry would be there, including acclaimed Egyptian singer and composer George Moustaki, who was currently living in France. We didn’t know how, but we knew that we would affect each other’s life.
Did you know Chris was “the one” when you first met?
I had no idea who he was, but at that moment my heart stopped. I didn’t know how but that beautiful man was going to be the father of my children. Yes, right then, I knew he was the one.
Where did the two of you go for your first date?
We stayed in the Hotel Juliana on Bush Street, a boutique style hotel only six blocks from the ultra-modern Moscone Convention Center and Buena Gardens. While it retains a historic 1903 flavor, its distinctly European-style lobby is elegant, yet intimate, centering on a cozy fireplace. We checked in, and like two high school students we scrambled up to the bedroom in a hurry.
Where did Chris propose to you at? And did you have any idea it was coming?
Two days later, February 14th, 1995, was Valentine’s Day, our first together. Chris took me to Windows on the World restaurant on the 36th floor of the Ramses Hilton hotel overlooking the Nile River. The stunning panoramic views over the Nile and the Pyramids in this stylish restaurant offered international cuisine, cocktails and evening entertainment in the romantic low lighting and contemporary décor of the showcase bar. Chris was fidgeting in his chair, not at all his normal self. He reached out his hand, palm up on the table, and I reached too, allowing him to caress mine. His hand, usually so masculine and sure, was wet and slightly clammy. Then I knew. He is going to propose, I thought. “Yes!” I said, too loud, I am sure. I could not believe I had blurted the answer before he even asked the question. “Yes, what?” “Yes, I will marry you. Isn’t that what you were trying to ask me?” Chris began to laugh. “Yes it was. How did you know?” I was laughing too mostly because I was giddy with happiness but also covering my own embarrassment. “Ok. Let’s start over,” he said. “Pretend I have not said anything.” By this time, the few people in the restaurant were staring at us with big smiles. “Lydie Denier will you be my wife.” “Yes, Chris Stevens, I will.” Then he leaned across the table and kissed me. And just like that, we were engaged. Chris explained that he was having a ring specially made by a jeweler but that it was not ready yet. I told him, I did not need a ring. I only needed him.
Your engagement lasted seven years, why didn’t the marriage happen? Was it a career choice? The time apart? Did you ever discuss marriage afterward the engagement ended? Why didn’t the marriage happened?
Well, you’ll have to read the book! We always discussed marriage. Chris defined it perfectly by saying that “when he thinks of us, his mind races forward into the future.”
Speaking of that,you wrote a book about Chris’s life and death.. why now?
I started 3 years ago. I tried again and again to get it published, but no luck. At first I thought nobody cared about Chris. Now, I believe that political forces tried really hard for my book to never be published. So, I had it edited and published via Canada. Why? During the first days after the Benghazi attack, the government was deliberately deceptive; lying to the American people about what motivated the attack, telling them that Chris was killed because a protest over an American-produced video had surged out of control, an event that occurred in Cairo, not Benghazi. The Benghazi murders occurred less than two months before a presidential election. In those days, I more or less expected politicians to lie in order to garner votes therefore I waited until the election was over for the true story to emerge. It didn’t. Facts floated through the media, but there was no shape to them, no story that made sense. This is what inspired me to search for the truth, an urge that I could not ignore. When Chris was murdered, I became obsessed with a need to know each detail about what happened in Benghazi although I was intensely aware of the gaps in the information available. Imagine a gigantic jigsaw puzzle on the floor, the random pieces scattered around in a chaos of bits of information. Each piece a vital fact provided through the media, that somehow fit together with the others to complete the final picture I was attempting to form in my mind.
I know you have been outspoken about Hilary Clinton’s slow response to help the embassy in Benghazi, do you feel it was her, the State Department or Obama’s for establishing a embassy in a incredibly unstable Libya much too soon?
Hillary Clinton’s choice to sit still, leaving Americans alone, entirely on their own to fend for themselves in Benghazi, will go down in history as a singular act of cowardice unmatched by anyone who desires to win the position of the Presidency. The choice was Secretary Clinton’s to make: either scrap the mission or improve the security, but do not desert your countrymen who it is your duty to protect, leaving your most important asset in a meat grinder to die.
You met with Donald Trump in May, did he offer any insight to you on how he would prevent what had happen to Chris from happening again?
Mr. Donald Trump didn’t give me any insight. I didn’t ask for it. What I ask was: “Mr Trump, if you become president, make sure what happened to Chris, Sean, Tyrone and Glen never ever happens again.” He said he will.
. What is next for you? Are you becoming a political activist to further Chris’s legacy?
I’ve been asked to, quite a lot actually… First, let’s put the presidential election behind us. In the meantime, I found or rather confirmed that I love writing. So I will be definitely write a second book. I’m thinking fiction!
How did the idea of writing the book come to you?
When a person you love dies, you want to know why. At least I do. Often, it is easy to know the answer. Someone who dies of cancer in the hospital receives a death certificate stating the disease. A soldier killed in the line of duty receives a posthumous commendation explaining the circumstances of his death, and a mother who dies during childbirth has this written up in her medical records before being sent to the morgue. When Chris Stevens died, I wanted to know why, when, how. I did not try to assess blame; I needed the answers to process my grief. Many people who have lost loved ones will understand this. I suppose that is one reason why we have accountability for death caused by criminal intent. When a loved one is the victim of a hit-and-run driver the authorities and public do everything to locate the killer and provide other details about what occurred. But when a U.S. Ambassador was murdered in a remote city in the Middle East, the President did not allow that to upset his plans, instead, he flew from Washington to Las Vegas the next day for a fundraiser. We should not be surprised then that no one has been helpful at getting to the truth about what happened to Chris Stevens and why. I wrote this book to set the record straight, and for our government to stop blaming Chris for the lack of security.
What were some of the challenges you had to overcome in writing this book?
Grieving. The pain of loosing him forever. I cannot explain why I grieved so deeply for Chris. None of us, however, can control when and how deeply we feel a loss. When Chris was murdered, grief overwhelmed me like a huge, dark tidal wave I could not see coming. Believe me, I know how crazy this sounds, so I would not say it unless it were true: grief smacked me between the eyes almost as if I were the dead man’s widow, and I know I am not that. It just felt that way, and I desperately wanted it to stop. My sorrow finally gave way to full-blown anger. Anger turned out to be the agent of change. 15. How did you handle juggling your career and writing? How long did it take for you to finish writing? I didn’t juggle anything. I concentrated on the book. That’s all. This book is 3 years in the making. I am really proud of it. And I know Chris is proud too. I know he has been by my side every step of the way, watching over me and giving me strength to go through one of the biggest challenges of my life.
You can buy Lydie’s book one of two ways
You can buy “A Voice for J. Christopher Stevens” via paperback through Amazon.com.
You can also buy for the Kindle or Nook by going to Barnes and Noble.com
You can follow Lydie on Twitter @LydieDenier
Thank you taking the time to read to read my interview and as always,feedback and comments are most welcome!