Lupito Nyong'o Shares Her Heartbreaking Harvey Weinstein Harassment Story
"He said, 'Let's cut to the chase - I have a room upstairs."
As an addition to the outpouring of stories from Hollywood actresses, Lupita Nyong'o opened up to The New York Times about her terrible encounter with the disgraced Hollywood producer. Lupita decided to come forward now to band together with fellow survives to instil unity and strength amongst actresses.
"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."
"But now that this is being discussed openly, I have not been able to avoid the memories resurfacing. I have felt sick in the pit of my stomach. I have felt such a flare of rage that the experience I recount below was not a unique incident with me, but rather part of a sinister pattern of behavior."
Nyong'o was still a Yale drama student when she attended a screening at Weinstein's Connecticut home. It was there were she would have her first encounter with the producer.
"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.
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 ... I opened the door and stood by the frame. He put his shirt on and again mentioned how stubborn I was. I agreed with an easy laugh, trying to get myself out of the situation safely. "
As her career continued, Nyong'o wondered how to process her interaction with Weinstein. "I was entering into a business where the intimate is often professional, and so the lines are blurred." She details as she encountered him in other social settings she he was, "definitely a bully, but he could be really charming, which was disarming and confusing."
It was just before her breakout role in 12 Years A Slave that Weinstein invited her to a group dinner - which ended up being just the two of them, unsurprisingly. "Before the starters arrived, [Weinstein] 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." When she declined his offer, Weinstein replied that she had, "no idea what she was passing up."
After the world knew her name and performance in what would soon be an Oscar winning film, Nyong'o ran into Weinstein at a film festival. He told her he was "ashamed" of his actions, and that he promised to respect the actress going forward. It was then Lupita made a mental note never to work with him.
When asked why she didn't report the incidents earlier, Lupita replied," I was entering into a community that Harvey Weinstein had been in, and even shaped, long before I got there. He was one of the first people I met in the industry, and he told me, 'This is the way it is.' And wherever I looked, everyone seemed to be bracing themselves and dealing with him, unchallenged. I did not know that things could change. 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."
She concluded her statement in saying, ""What I am most interested in now is combating the shame we go through that keeps us isolated and allows for harm to continue to be done. I wish I had known that there were women in the business I could have talked to. 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."