Benjamin Speed was on holiday in Los Angeles when his friend suggested he meet Blanca Lista, a film producer. “I am a composer working in the film and TV industry, and he thought we’d have common interests,” Benjamin remembers. Blanca set aside some time one afternoon for the meeting. “I noticed he was handsome and radiated confidence, which was very attractive.” Benjamin instantly fell for her and asked her out via email, but she turned him down. “I thought he was just passing through town and I had my mum staying at the time,” she says. Benjamin says he returned home to Australia feeling “really sad”.
A year later, in September 2012, Blanca was offered the chance to visit Australia for work. She visited four states over the course of her month-long trip, ending in New South Wales. Once there, she visited Sydney, where Benjamin was living. “Our old mutual friend recommended getting in touch again, so I wrote to him.” He was delighted to hear from Blanca and took her to his favourite restaurant in Chinatown. Blanca had been due to leave the following day, but before their meeting she extended her trip another 24 hours. “I think I already knew I would want more time with him.”
The pair chatted all night, ending up back at her hotel to eat dessert. “I told her I had fallen in love with her that night. I knew she was leaving, and I had one shot,” says Benjamin. Although she shared his feelings, Blanca was scared. He left, and she went upstairs to her room to think things over. “I sent her an email with a poem about taking risks,” he said. Deciding she couldn’t ignore the connection, she invited him to watch films at her hotel room the next day, and they stayed up the entire night talking.
A few days later, Benjamin flew to LA to see her again. “The weekend was so emotionally intense. By Sunday, we knew we wanted to be together and get married,” he says. They called their families to break the news. “They didn’t even know we were dating anyone,” says Blanca. “But for some reason, when I called my dad, he said: ‘You’re getting married, aren’t you?’ I think he just knows me so well.” Although they were shocked, they supported her decision. “My parents also married quite quickly and, although they knew this was out of character for me, they trust my decisions,” she says. Benjamin’s family were also shocked. “My sister and my dad were especially freaked out,” he says.
The couple were married a week later in Las Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. They were inspired by the movie True Romance, where the characters marry after just one meeting. “He sent me a clip of the movie and it felt like fate,” says Blanca. After the wedding, they celebrated with a skydive to “represent their leap of faith”. Straight afterwards, Benjamin went back to Australia to finish a project he was working on. They didn’t see each other again until Christmas, when they both flew to Spain to visit Blanca’s family. From then on, Benjamin continued to move between LA and Australia before securing a US visa in August 2014.
Since then, they’ve been based in LA with their son, who was born in early 2015, but will spend part of this year in Australia for Benjamin’s work. “He’s already there, but I’ll join him in Queensland for six months in April. It’s like going full circle on our relationship,” says Blanca. “Ben is the most noble human being I’ve ever met. He’s an extraordinary father, and he constantly challenges me to be a better human being.” Benjamin, meanwhile, admires Blanca’s honesty and passion. “She has so much integrity and intelligence, and she’s super-sexy. I knew I loved her from the day we met.”