Lupita Nyong’o shares how Harvey Weinstein asked her for a massage while his kids were in next room
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Lupita Nyong’o shares how Harvey Weinstein asked her for a massage while his kids were in next room

Lupita Nyong’o has written how Harvey Weinstein offered her massages and made inappropriate advances at her when she was beginning her career in Hollywood.

hollywood Updated: Oct 20, 2017 12:16 IST
Associated Press
Lupita Nyong’o,Harvey Weinstein,Harvey Weinstein Sexual Harassment
Lupita Nyong'o has written a long piece on how Harvey Weinstein asked her for massages.(AFP)

Oscar-winning actor Lupita Nyong’o is the latest to write about her own sexual harassment at the hands of producer Harvey Weinstein. She recounts four instances in The New York Times op-ed when she met Harvey before she became a star and won the Academy Award and one after it.

Nyong’o begins her piece by sharing how she has found courage in the voices of women who are talking about how they were sexually harassed and assaulted by the disgraced producer and that she wasn’t alone in her experiences. “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 behaviour,” she wrote.

She then recounted how she met Harvey for the first time in Berlin in 2011 when she was still a student at the Yale School of Drama. “I exchanged contacts with him in the hopes that I would be considered for one of his projects. I wanted to keep things professional, so I made a point of referring to him as “Mr. Weinstein.” But he insisted that I call him by his first name. In this first encounter, I found him to be very direct and authoritative, but also charming. He didn’t quite put me at ease, but he didn’t alarm me, either,” she wrote.

Lupita N’yongo with her Academy Award for 12 Years A Slave.

The next time they met, Harvey had invited her to his home in New York to watch a film with his family. They, however, went for a lunch first where it really bothered him how she wasn’t drinking alcohol and pushed her repeatedly for it. “‘You are going to drink that,’ he insisted. I smiled again and said that I wouldn’t. He gave up and called me stubborn. I said, ‘I know’,” she wrote.

Then they went to his home where they she was introduced to his staff and his family, including his children. They began watching the movie but 15 minutes into it, he said he wanted to show her something in her bedroom. She resisted and told him that whatever it is, it could wait until after the movie, but he wouldn’t budge. “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. 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,” she added.

She then met him again on a dinner after a Broadway show but was allowed to bring her two male friends with her. Harvey behaved well that night which led her to believe that may be he now respects their boundaries.

Lupita Nyong'o speaks onstage during the 2017 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park. (AFP)

He again invited her for a screening in New York a few months later, which is when he revealed his intentions with her. They were having lunch when he made the proposal. “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,” she added.

Scared for her career, Lupita asked him if all was well between them. “I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine,” he said.

The last time they met was after she won the Academy Award for 12 Years A Slave. “At an after-party, he found me and evicted whoever was sitting next to me to sit beside me. He said he couldn’t believe how fast I had gotten to where I was, and that he had treated me so badly in the past. He was ashamed of his actions and he promised to respect me moving forward. I said thank you and left it at that. But I made a quiet promise to myself to never ever work with Harvey Weinstein,” she wrote.

Weinstein resigned from his position at The Weinstein Company earlier this week as sexual assault and harassment accusations against him piled up. So far, as many as 40 women have said that he harassed them, six even accusing him of rape.

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First Published: Oct 20, 2017 11:28 IST