The actor detailed some encounters with the disgraced Hollywood producer
Lupita Nyong’o has come forward to speak of her own experience with Harvey Weinstein, penning an op-ed in which she says he offered to boost her career in exchange for sex. The actor hopes sharing her story will help to stop the “conspiracy of silence” in the film industry.
Nyong’o, known for her roles in 12 Years a Slave, Queen of Katwe and the upcoming Blank Panther, writes in her New York Times piece that she felt “sick in the pit of (her) stomach” after dozens of women spoke out with allegations of assault and harassment that outlined his “sinister pattern of behaviour”.
The actor says she first met Weinstein at the Berlin film festival and a number of times as a student of Yale School of Drama. In one incident, she was invited to a screening with his family. After, while at his house, Weinstein offered her a massage. “For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe,” she said.
She declined, and attempted to offer him one to remain in control.
“It would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times,” she explained. Weinstein said he wanted to take off his pants, and she expressed discomfort and left.
“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 wrote. “Though the incident with Harvey had made me uncomfortable, I was able to explain and justify it to myself, and shelve it as an awkward moment.”
Nyong’o details that as a student and inexperienced person in the industry, she felt afraid to speak out.
Another dinner some time later saw Weinstein speak plainly: “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,’” Nyong’o details.”"I was stunned....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.”
When asking to leave, she asked Weinstein if they were “good”. He sinisterly replied: “I don't know about your career, but you'll be fine.”
"It felt like both a threat and a reassurance at the same time; of what, I couldn't be sure,” Nyong’o wrote.
Nyong’o continued to explore her experiences given the fresh allegations, from people across the industry including Asia Argento and Rose McGowan: “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. 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.”
Following her Oscar-winning role in 12 Years a Slave, she alleges that Weinstein continued to pursue her, but she declined any part.
“I did not know that anybody wanted things to change. So my survival plan was to avoid Harvey and men like him at all costs, and I did not know that I had allies in this.”
Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino has admitted he was aware of some of Weinstein’s misconduct.
“There was more to it than just the normal rumours, the normal gossip,” he told the New York Times. “It wasn’t second-hand. I knew he did a couple of these things... I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard. If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.”