Lupita Nyong’o joins the growing list of popular women who have spoken up about their ordeal in the hands of serial sexual assaulter, Harvey Weinstein.
In an op-ed for The New York Times, the 12 Years A Slave actress recounts her first meeting with Weinstein and how he made a series of sexual advances towards her, even threatening her career when she refused his advances.
According to her, she had met the powerful Hollywood producer at a dinner party in 2011 when she was still a student at the Yale School of Drama. “An intermediary introduced him to me as “the most powerful producer in Hollywood,” she wrote.
Being an upcoming actress, Lupita had been eager to connect with the big players in Hollywood with hopes that they’d give her career a much needed push in the right direction. She exchanged contacts with Weinstein who later invited her to a film screening in his home.
Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage. I thought he was joking at first. 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: It would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times.
He agreed to this and lay on the bed. I began to massage his back to buy myself time to figure out how to extricate myself from this undesirable situation. Before long 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. He got up anyway to do so and I headed for the door, saying that I was not at all comfortable with that. “If we’re not going to watch the film, I really should head back to school,” I said.
Their second meeting was in the company of two of her male friends so he didn’t repeat his advances. Lupita had thought he now understood and respected her boundaries but that wasn’t the case.
A couple of months later he invited her for another screening and this time she went alone.
We ordered drinks and starters. Again he was offended by my nonalcoholic beverage choice but he didn’t fight me on it as hard. 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.
I was silent for a while before I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer. “You have no idea what you are passing up,” he said. “With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass,” I replied.
His whole demeanor changed at that point. “Then I guess we are two ships passing in the night.” I had never heard that saying before, so I remember asking him what it meant. “It means just that,” he said. “We are two ships going in two different directions.”
“Yes, I guess we are.”
“So we are done here,” he said. “You can leave.”
Before she left however, she wanted to be sure that she was still in the good books of the powerful producer.
“I just want to know that we are good,” I said.
“I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine,” he said. It felt like both a threat and a reassurance at the same time; of what, I couldn’t be sure.
Lupita proceeded to make it in Hollywood without succumbing to Harvey and was able to turn down his offer to star in one of his films later on.
She concluded by writing,
Now that we are speaking, let us never shut up about this kind of thing. I speak up to make certain that this is not the kind of misconduct that deserves a second chance. I speak up to contribute to the end of the conspiracy of silence.
Read the full op-ed here.