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Lupita Nyong’o Is the Latest to Accuse Harvey Weinstein of Sexual Harassment

October 19, 2017 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Lupita Nyong'o

Black Panther and Star Wars: The Force Awakens actress Lupita Nyong’o is the latest actress to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Nyong’o, who won an Oscar for her work in 12 Years, wrote an op-ed in the New York Times detailing Weinstein’s inappropriate behavior with her.

Nyong’o says she met Weinstein at 2011 at an awards ceremony in Berlin. She was still a student at the Yale School of Drama at the time and met Weinstein through an intermediary who described him as “the most powerful producer in Hollywood.” She said that a woman who was a producer advised her to “keep Harvey in your corner.” They exchanged contacts. Nyong’o said, “In this first encounter, I found him to be very direct and authoritative, but also charming. He didn’t quite put me at ease, but he didn’t alarm me, either.”

The actress then said that not long after that meeting, Weinstein invited her to a screening at his home city in Westport, Connecticut. Nyong’o said that Weinstein ordered her a vodka soda when they met at the restaurant and insisted she drink it. When she said no, she said he asked, “Why Not.” She responded, “Because I don’t like vodka, and I don’t like diet soda, and I don’t like them together.” She said, “‘You are going to drink that,’ he insisted. I smiled again and said that I wouldn’t. He gave up and called me stubborn. I said, ‘I know.’”

She said that they then went to his home, where she was introduced to his domestic staff and children. She, Weinstein and his children began watching the film together, but fifteen minutes into the movie, Weinstein asked her to go with him outside the room. She wrote, “I protested that I wanted to finish the film first, but he insisted I go with him, laying down the law as though I too was one of his children. I did not want another back-and-forth in front of his kids, so I complied and left the room with him. I explained that I really wanted to see the film. He said we’d go back shortly.”

She says Weinstein led her into his bedroom and said he wanted to give her a massage, writing, “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.” She said Weinstein took his shirt off and asked if he could take his pants off. Shen she said it would make her extremely uncomfortable, he got up to do so anyway. She says he moved toward the door at that point.

“I opened the door and stood by the frame. He put his shirt on and again mentioned how stubborn I was,” she wrote. “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…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.” Nyong’o said that she met Weinstein once more, accompanied by friends and some of his colleagues, and experienced no inappropriate conduct that made her inclined to brush off the incident as an awkward encounter.

She says that a couple of months later, she invited her to have drinks with him after a screening of W.E.. She said a male assistant arranged the transportation for her to Tribeca Grill. She assumed it would be with a group of people as like the reading, but when she arrived at the restaurant she was informed it would just be her meeting with him.

“Again he was offended by my nonalcoholic beverage choice but he didn’t fight me on it as hard,” Nyong’o said. “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.”

Nyong’o said she eventually declined politely and he replied, “You have no idea what you are passing up.” Nyong’o ansered, “With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass.”

The next time Nyong’o saw Weinstein was at the after-party for a premiere of 12 Years a Slave in 2013. Weinstein praised her for her progress in the industry and apologized for his past actions, promising “to respect me moving forward. 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 noted that she didn’t know that other people were dealing with this behavior from Weinstein as well, and said that the the fact that no one else seemed to be challenging him made her hesitant to speak out. “I wish I had known that there were women in the business I could have talked to,” she said. “I wish I had known that there were ears to hear me. That justice could be served. There is clearly power in numbers. I thank the women who have spoken up and given me the strength to revisit this unfortunate moment in my past.”