Lupita Nyong'o Speaks Out About Harvey Weinstein In Powerful Essay: "I Was Stunned"

Photo: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic.
Update: Through a representative, Harvey Weinstein has issued a statement in response to Lupita Nyong'o's accusations of attempted sexual abuse. "Mr. Weinstein has a different recollection of the events, but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry. Last year, she sent a personal invitation to Mr. Weinstein to see her in her Broadway show Eclipsed," reads the statement, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Nyong'o had no further comment.
This story was originally published on October 20, 2017.
So many women have come forward to tell their stories of Harvey Weinstein allegedly harassing or assaulting them, but each and every one deserves our attention. Why? Because, as Lupita Nyong'o describes in her own story in Friday's New York Times, many women automatically assume that no one wants to hear them. The actress said she's doing her part to end this "conspiracy of silence."
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Nyong'o recounts how she first met Weinstein in Berlin when she was still in Yale Drama School. She was suspicious of men in general, she said, but when she asked around about him, the only warning she received from a female producer was, "He can be a bully."
That's why a short while later, Nyong'o agreed to meet for lunch in Connecticut before going to his home there to watch a screening with his family. At lunch, Weinstein was indeed a bully, insisting that their waiter bring her vodka and diet soda, when all she wanted was juice.
"In this second encounter with Harvey, I found him to be pushy and idiosyncratic more than anything," she said.
She went home with him as planned, and in the middle of watching the movie with his children and household staff, he made her leave the screening room and go with him to his bedroom. There he said he wanted to give her a massage.
"For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe," she wrote. She tried to keep control of the situation by offering to give him a massage instead, and rationalized that in drama school, everyone gave each other massages. That worked until he said he wanted to take his pants off. She told him it would make her uncomfortable and extricated herself from the room. It was no coincidence, she noticed, that everyone else in the house was in the soundproof screening room at the time.
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Nyong'o met Weinstein two other times after that. She brought two male friends with her to a play reading and dinner that proved uneventful, so she accepted another invitation to a screening of W.E. When she met him at a restaurant, he told her they should continue their meal in his hotel room. He called her "naive" for refusing, giving examples of other actresses who had been successful after dating him. She declined again, and he sent her home in a cab with a vague threat about her career.
Later, when 12 Years a Slave was catapulting Nyong'o to fame and success, Weinstein made an attempt to apologize to her.
"I said thank you and left it at that. But I made a quiet promise to myself to never ever work with Harvey Weinstein," she said. She and her agent met him one more time in 2014, where she refused a role in one of his movies. Still, it wasn't until now that she felt she could tell anyone why she didn't want to be involved with the Weinstein Company.
"I wish I had known that there were women in the business I could have talked to," she wrote, explaining that she believes the intimacy required of actors emboldens would-be perpetrators.
"I hope we can form a community where a woman can speak up about abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed and instead being ridiculed," she said. "Now that we are speaking, let us never shut up about this kind of thing."
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