Talks & Interviews — December 3, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Explorer Donna D’Errico: ex-Playboy model, Baywatch babe turned Biblical Relic Hunter (exclusive interview)

Donna D’Errico is an interesting mix of beauty and brains. Through the years, she has gone through quite a transition, and today she’s known as an explorer, who, despite criticism decided to pursue her childhood dream.

In the mid 90’s, D’Errico first caught the attention when she posed for Playboy (becoming Playboy Playmate of the Month for September 1995), and later she became a part of a world-popular TV-series “Baywatch”.

In 2011, D’Errico said that she was training to fulfill a long-held childhood dream of climbing Mount Ararat (Agri Dag) in Turkey in search of the remains of Noah’s Ark.

There of course were people who laughed at D’Errico’s willingness to risk her own life to go searching for something that a lot of people do not even believe in.

D’Errico has stated that she had her own reasons for going on this trip, one of which was to search for the Noah’s Ark, which doesn’t necessarily means finding it.

Ex-Baywatch star climbed the Mountain in the Summer of 2012, and returned home to the U.S. in August.

Although she completed what she had set out to do, D’Errico was injured and bruised after suffering from a fall that occurred towards the end of her hike. Upon returning home, D’Errico found herself in the media spotlight again.

Mrs. D’Errico kindly agreed to spare some time for this exclusive interview to BZFilm, where she recalls her hiking trip in Turkey, tells about her children, and shares future plans. She also provided some pictures of her personal archive especially for this interview.

Documentaries and a cooking show

Today, Donna D’Errico seems to be a different person, than she was in the 90s. She has several projects planned for the near future, and that she combines with raising two children.

“My daughter has expressed a desire to become an actress like her mama. I think she’d be fantastic, and a very skilled actress,” D’Errico told BZFilm.

Regarding her future projects, one of which is a cooking show, D’Errico says she’s still planning it.
“I love to cook, and began working on a concept for a cooking show with my sister. That’s still a possibility,” she said.

“AOL misquoted me when they said that was also a lifelong dream of mine. I never said that. The only lifelong dream I’ve ever had was to climb Mt. Ararat and search for Noah’s Ark.”

Speaking of the Noah’s ark, D’Errico had this dream of embarking on a trip to search for the Ark ever since she was a child. Eventually, she did manage to make her dream come true.

D’Errico first wanted to start the trip to Turkey in August of 2011, however it had to be postponed. The former “Baywatch babe” explained why.

“At the time, my intended climbing partner received death threats, and that prompted him to cancel his trip. He was planning a trip to Mount Ararat to search for the body of his friend, Donald MacKenzie, who had disappeared without a trace the previous September while searching for Noah’s Ark,” D’Errico explained.

“Since my intended hiking partner and I had been planning on going at the same time, I had volunteered to spend the first few days of my climb helping him look for Donald on the area of the mountain that Donald was last known to have been searching,” she added.

D’Errico recalls that at the time, her guide tried to convince her not to go on this trip, and that ultimately led to the trip cancelling, while she was persistent to continue.

“My guide, a local Kurdish man, found out that I was planning to help search for Donald on the mountain, and he warned me not to and relentlessly attempted to talk me out of it. When I told my guide that I still intended to follow through with the search for Donald regardless of the fact that my intended climbing partner had cancelled his trip, my guide turned on me and canceled my permit to climb,” D’Errico said, noting that for those reasons she, fearing for her own safety, cancelled her 2011 expedition.

D’Errico made her trip to Turkey in the Summer of 2012, and according to her own words, she had a finite amount of time to spend on expedition.

It should be noted, that when D’Errico suffered a serious injury due to a fall, during her hiking trip, no member of “Baywatch” contacted D’Errico about her health.

“I devoted the time I had to searching for the Ark, searching for Donald, and filming for both documentaries on and around Mount Ararat,” she noted. “I hope to have more time before or after my next expedition so that I can visit some interesting places around there.”

D’Errico mentioned a couple of places she would like to visit, while on her next trip to Turkey.

“I would very much like to visit the house where the Virgin Mary went to live with the Apostle John after Christ’s death. That’s in in Ephesus, Turkey,” she said.

Donald MacKenzie, whom D’Errico went to look for, was a Scottish Christian missionary, who went missing in 2010, in the Ararat region of Turkey.

BZFilm asked what was MacKenzie family’s reaction to D’Errico’s willingness to do a documentary on his disappearance.

“I reached out to one of Donald’s brothers late last year to tell him of my desire to do a documentary about Donald’s disappearance. He seemed happy that I was doing it,” D’Errico said. “Since then, he has joined up with some folks who are also doing a documentary about Donald overseas where he lives, in Scotland.”

Since the Mount Ararat (or Agri Dag as it’s called in Turkey) is close to the areas where the PKK groups operate in Turkey, it remains a mystery whether Donald MacKenzie could have been killed by the group members.

PKK is a Kurdish organization which, since 1984,  has been fighting an armed struggle against the Turkish state for an autonomous Kurdistan and greater cultural and political rights for the Kurds in Turkey.

“My documentary will cover all possibilities, and will lay out everything known about the circumstances surrounding his disappearance,” D’Errico said.

A documentary on Donald MacKenzie is actually one of the two documentaries that Donna D’Errico is currently working on. The other one would be about her own actual trip on the search for Noah’s Ark.

“It is a bit difficult since I’m relatively new to the production side of things, but I am having a great time doing them,” D’Errico said of her work on the documentaries.

D’Errico noted that when she is ready for her second trip to Turkey, she intends to bring a cameraman along as well.

“This way I can get footage of me on the mountain, something I couldn’t do by myself. I will not be bringing the whole crew, as it would be too dangerous, and it can attract too much attention – something you want to avoid when on Mount Ararat,” she said.

Choices of the past

D’Errico was not always like this, as there were times when she was popular due to posing as a Playboy Model, and appearing on “Baywatch” and “Baywatch Nights” TV-shows.

The ex-star does not regret what she did, yet says she doesn’t like looking back on those choices.

“I do not regret making some choices in the past, because every choice we make, both good and bad, shape us into who we are today,” she said. “Had I not made those choices, I would not have had the children I do. Neither would I be who I am today, and I like who I am today.”

Despite an opinion of D’Errico being a model, she herself said she has never been one.

“I was never actually a model. I’m far too short at 5’4″, and nowhere near pretty enough. I started acting when I was in 3rd grade, when I starred as the Virgin Mary in a school Nativity play. I dipped my first toe into television when I did a Tostitos commercial with Chris Elliot in 1996,” she said. “Then I went on to do many other TV shows, including a series regular role on both Baywatch and Baywatch Nights.”

Since D’Errico is currently devoting her time to the two documentaries we wrote above, she doesn’t seem to be interested in coming back to acting, something she hasn’t done since 2010.

“I am not sure right now if I want to act. I am rather enjoying producing at the moment, but never say never,” she noted.



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