Lupita Nyong’o Latest Actress To Share Her Story Of Harvey Weinstein Harassment
LUPITA NYONG’O REVEALS HARVEY WEINSTEIN HARASSMENT INCIDENTS
In a New York Times op ed, Nyong’o recounts a story that she has been kept “far in the recesses of my mind.” As dozens of women are coming forward with stories of sexual harassment from the Hollywood executive, Nyong’o says she had to share her own. “I have felt sick in the pit of my stomach,” she wrote. “I have felt such a flare of rage that the experience I recount below was not a unique incident with me, but rather part of a sinister pattern of behavior.”
The actress, 34, first met Weinstein in 2011 at a Berlin awards ceremony. She was a Yale School of Drama student at the time. “A woman who was a producer herself cautiously advised me to ‘keep Harvey in your corner.’ She said: ‘He is a good man to know in the business, but just be careful around him. He can be a bully,'” Nyong’o recalled.
Not long after they met, Weinstein called on Nyong’o to attend a film screening with him and his family, but when the car showed up, he informed her that they would be eating lunch first. He ordered an alcoholic beverage for himself, and forced Nyong’o to order one as well.
“We went back and forth until finally he turned to the waiter and said, ‘Get her what I tell you to get her. I’m the one paying the bill.’ I smiled and remained silent,” Nyong’o wrote. “The waiter left and returned with a vodka and diet soda for me. He placed it on the table beside my water. I drank the water. Harvey told me that I needed to drink the vodka and diet soda. I informed him that I would not.”
Weinstein continued to be pushy throughout the meal, but Nyong’o maintained her cool. They arrived at Weinstein’s house and began the film they were to screen, but 15 minutes into the movie, Weinstein said he wanted to show her something. Nyong’o reluctantly agreed after he insisted. He led her to his bedroom and said he wanted to give her a massage. “For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe,” she writes.
In a panic, she countered and offered him a massage, so that she could stay in control. He agreed, but soon after said he would take off his pants. Nyong’o said she was not comfortable with that, and went to leave. “I opened the door and stood by the frame,” she recalled. “He put his shirt on and again mentioned how stubborn I was. I agreed with an easy laugh, trying to get myself out of the situation safely. I was after all on his premises, and the members of his household, the potential witnesses, were all (strategically, it seems to me now) in a soundproof room.”
After leaving, the actress says she had a difficult time processing the incident. “I reasoned that it had been inappropriate and uncalled-for, but not overtly sexual. I was entering into a business where the intimate is often professional and so the lines are blurred,” she said. “I was in an educational program where I was giving massages to my classmates and colleagues every day. Though the incident with Harvey had made me uncomfortable, I was able to explain and justify it to myself, and shelve it as an awkward moment.”
However, she had another awkward encounter with the producer months later. They pair went to dinner, which Nyong’o assumed more people would attend, but it ended up being just the two of them. “Before the starters arrived, he announced: “Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.” I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.
“I was silent for a while before I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer. ‘You have no idea what you are passing up,’ he said. ‘With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass,’ I replied.”
She got into a cab, but before it left, she asked the producer if things were alright between them. “‘I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine,’ he said. It felt like both a threat and a reassurance at the same time; of what, I couldn’t be sure.”
Nyong’o later turned down a role for a film being produced by the Weinstein Company. The last interaction she had with the producer came after she won her Oscar in 2014. He wanted to work with her again, and she declined.
“Though we may have endured powerlessness at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, by speaking up, speaking out and speaking together, we regain that power,” Nyong’o ended her piece. “And we hopefully ensure that this kind of rampant predatory behavior as an accepted feature of our industry dies here and now. Now that we are speaking, let us never shut up about this kind of thing. I speak up to make certain that this is not the kind of misconduct that deserves a second chance. I speak up to contribute to the end of the conspiracy of silence.”
Nyong’o joins a long list of actresses who’ve come forward about Weinstein, including Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Lena Headey. Weinstein has since been fired from the Weinstein Company, which may also go under very soon. He is being investigated by the LAPD, NYPD, and London police.