Lupita Nyong’o Says Harvey Weinstein Once Tried To Coerce Her Into Sex

Lupita Nyong’o has penned an extraordinary piece for the New York Times detailing multiple experiences of sexual harassment from Harvey Weinstein.

The actress, director and producer writes that she first met the now-disgraced producer in 2011 when she was in her final year at the Yale School of Drama. She was told by a female producer at the time to “keep Harvey in your corner”, but be careful around him. “He is a bully.”

Nyong’o says she kept these sentiments in mind as they began to develop what she thought was a professional relationship. Soon afterwards, Weinstein invited her to his home under the pretence of watching a film. After a dispute over lunch where she refused to drink alcohol – during which Weinstein became increasingly agitated – they went back to his house. Fifteen minutes into the film, Weinstein said he wanted to show her something.

“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.”

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.”

She decided to give him a massage instead, explaining that at least she’d be more in control of the situation, soon escaped. But their relationship didn’t end there, and Nyong’o, as a newcomer to the industry, understood that crafting a relationship with him was likely beneficial to her. There was a dinner without incident – and Harvey turned on the charm – but a while later, she turned up to what she expected to be a group dinner to find an assistant waiting for her, alone.

“She seemed on edge, but I could only imagine how stressful it was to work for a man who had so much going on.

“Harvey arrived and the assistant immediately disappeared. 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.”

She says that she managed to turn him down, and left without eating. But the experience stayed with her, and even after she ‘made it’, in the 2013 Oscar-winning film 12 Years A Slave, she refused to work with him.

Part of the reason sexual harassment has run rampant in Hollywood, she says, is that intimacy is ingrained into the work.

“As actors we are paid to do very intimate things in public. That’s why someone can have the audacity to invite you to their home or hotel and you show up. Precisely because of this we must stay vigilant and ensure that the professional intimacy is not abused. “

She says that it’s only in the wake of the multiple Weinstein allegations that she’s now speaking up, and now that multiple people are speaking, “let us never shut up about this kind of thing.”

Nyong’o joins a growing list of women speaking out about Weintstein, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rose McGowan, Lena Headey, Cara Delevingne, Ashley Judd and Asia Argento. Earlier today, Quentin Tarantino expressed his shame that he didn’t do anything to stop Weinstein’s predatory behaviour, and said that anyone who worked with him who claimed to not know what was going on is a liar.

Weinstein has now lost his job, his wife, and the respect of pretty much everyone. Good riddance to trash.

Do yourself a favour and read Nyong’o’s full op-ed here.