Lupita Nyong’o is one of the latest victims to come forward alleging she was sexually harassed by Hollywood big wig, Harvey Weinstein.
In an op-ped piece published for the New York Times, Nyong’o opened up about her experiences with the producer. According to the 12 Years a Slave star, she “shelved” the incidents in her mind and joined the “conspiracy of silence that has allowed this predator to prowl for so many years.”
Now, however, following the multitude of women speaking out, it’s her turn.
In the piece, Lupita, who met Harvey while still at student at Yale, detailed the several encounters with the producer.
“Not long after we met in Berlin, Harvey wrote to me inviting me to attend a screening of a film — a competitor’s film similar to one he had produced. He said we would be watching it with his family at his home in Westport, Conn,” she wrote.
According to the actress, a car picked her up and took her to a restaurant where she first had lunch with the producer. During lunch, Harvey forced Lupita to have a vodka soda, which she repeatedly declined.
“Why not?” Harvey asked her. She replied, “Because I don’t like vodka, and I don’t like diet soda, and I don’t like them together.”
According to Nyong’o, he insisted she drink the beverage. “I smiled again and said that I wouldn’t. He gave up and called me stubborn. I said, ‘I know.’ And the meal proceeded without much further ado. In this second encounter with Harvey, I found him to be pushy and idiosyncratic more than anything.”
Eventually they made it back to his home where they screened the film with a few other people. But during the movie, Weinstein insisted she wanted to show Lupita something in another room. She resisted, but he seemingly played “down the law.”
“Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage,” she wrote. “I thought he was joking at first. He was not. For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe. I panicked a little and thought quickly to offer to give him one instead: It would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times.”
Lupita, who studied massage technique while in school, continued: “Before long he said he wanted to take off his pants. I told him not to do that and informed him that it would make me extremely uncomfortable. He got up anyway to do so and I headed for the door, saying that I was not at all comfortable with that. ‘If we’re not going to watch the film, I really should head back to school,’ I said.”
Because Nyong’o was “able to explain and justify it to myself, and shelve it as an awkward moment,” she accepted another invitation to a reading of his new Broadway show, Finding Neverland. But to ensure another award moment didn’t happen again, she brought two male friends.
That dinner was successful, so she agreed to a third meeting a few months later. But that’s when things took a turn.
“’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,” she wrote. “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.”
A few years later, after the success of 12 Years a Slave, Harvey apologized to Nyong’o for his actions and offered her several roles in his films. But she continued to decline.