Director, producer and Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has detailed yet another series of Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment encounters. In an essay in the New York Times, Nyong’o told of several explicit passes Weinstein tried to foist on her early in her career.
“I had shelved my experience with Harvey far in the recesses of my mind, joining in the conspiracy of silence that has allowed this predator to prowl for so many years, Nyong’o wrote of her reasons for speaking out now. “I had felt very much alone when these things happened, and I had blamed myself for a lot of it, quite like many of the other women who have shared their stories.”
But Nyong’o said the memories have resurfaced, and she was “sick in the pit of my stomach” when she realized the Weinstein incidents were not unique, but “part of a sinister pattern of behavior.”
Her essay details initially meeting Weinstein in 2011. Weinstein at first charmed her, so she was not cautious when he invited her to his Connecticut home, ostensibly to watch a movie with his family. But first, they stopped at a local restaurant for lunch, where Weinstein tried to get her to drink alcohol.
When they got to his home, they met his domestic staff and young children. They then went to his private screening room. But 15 minutes into the film, Weinstein lured her to another part of the house. When they arrived at his bedroom, he asked for a massage.
“I thought he was joking at first,” Nyong’o wrote. “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: I would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times.” She added: “I began to massage his back to buy myself time to figure out how to extricate myself from this undesirable situation.”
Before long, she wrote, 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.” The incident then ended and she left the home.
Nyong’s admits, “I didn’t quite know how to process the massage incident. I reasoned that it had been inappropriate and uncalled-for, but not overtly sexual.” She added: “But I knew I would not be accepting any more visits to private spaces with Harvey Weinstein.”
Still, he persisted. When she attended a Weinstein screening, she joined him at a restaurant, expecting others to be there. Instead, he was alone. He quickly got to the point: “Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.”
Nyong’o claims she 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.”
Nyong’o declined his offers and they departed the restaurant without eating. As she was getting into a cab, she turned to Weinstein. “I just want to know that we are good.”
He responded: “I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine.”
Nyong’o did not see him until the premiere of 12 Years A Slave. He apologized for past behaviors. “I said thank you and left it at that. But I made a quiet promise to myself to never ever work with Harvey Weinstein.”
Not long after she won the Academy Award in 2014, she received an offer to play a role in one of the Weinstein Company’s forthcoming films. “I knew I would not do it simply because it was the Weinstein Company,” she said.
Nyong’o claimed she has had no further sexual harassment encounters in the entertainment business since the Weinstein problems. “And I think it is because all the projects I have been a part of have had women in positions of power, along with men who are feminists in their own right who have not abused their power.”