Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o is the latest celebrity to detail her experience being sexually harassed by disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein following a litany of allegations that include rape and sexual assault.
The “12 Years a Slave” star detailed her experience in a lengthy op-ed to The New York Times, the same outlet that initially wrote an expose that brought Weinstein’s abuse to the forefront of the public conversation.
In it, she details meeting Weinstein while she was still a student at the Yale School of Drama in 2011. After meeting at a social event, Weinstein invited her to a screening of a movie at his private residence in Connecticut, not too far from the Yale campus. After having lunch with him and meeting his young children, they entered his private screening room with a large group. Eventually, he asked her to go to a bedroom with him and propositioned her for a massage.
"I thought he was joking at first. He was not."
The star says she rationalized obliging because massages were something that happened frequently in her acting program to help students understand the mind/body/emotion connection. However, when he insisted on taking off his pants despite her protest, the star insisted that she leave.
After winning her over with a chaste group meeting where Weinstein allowed her to bring two male friends, her guard softened and she agreed to attend another public screening with him months later. Afterward, she was taken to a restaurant thinking it would be a group outing. However, it turned out to be just the two of them. That’s when Weinstein made a blunt proposition.
“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 told. She refused and they left the restaurant without eating. When she asked if they were OK, Weinstein gave an ominous reply.
“I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine,” he reportedly said.
It wasn’t until she became an Oscar winner in 2014 that Weinstein apologized for his behavior and agreed to show her the respect she deserves. Still, the actress, director and producer says she turned down all future projects from The Weinstein Co.
Nyong’o joins the chorus of voices from women in Hollywood who have shared similar experiences with Weinstein, including reports of massage propositions, unwelcome nudity and threats against their career if they refuse.