Lupita Nyong’o: ‘What Harvey Weinstein Did To Me’
If you’ve been following the accusations that have been coming forward by a number of women (over 30 so far) against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, you’ll probably agree that this is something that has been going on for far too long.
Many of us have heard of the legendary “casting couch” where women would be led to have sex with the producer or director or someone in charge of the film in order to get hired. It was something that you heard about, but never really saw someone come forward about it–until now.
Women from young, first-time actresses to legendary heavyweights are all coming out against this man who made sexual advances or even raped them. One of the latest is the beautiful Hollywood starlet, Lupita Nyong’o. She won an award for her role in 12 Years A Slave and is starring in the new movie, Black Panther. In a detailed piece in the New York Times, Nyongo shares all four of her encounters with Weinstein–each one getting progressively worse. It was a new world for her being introduced to this “big, Hollywood producer” but she knew something wasn’t right. Here are her own words:
“I settled in for the film, but about 15 minutes in, Harvey came for me, saying he wanted to show me something” explains Nyong’o. “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. 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.
Part of our drama school curriculum at Yale included body work, using massage techniques on one another to understand the connection between body, mind and emotion, and so I felt I could rationalize giving him one and keep a semblance of professionalism in spite of the bizarre circumstance. 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.
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. I was after all on his premises, and the members of his household, the potential witnesses, were all (strategically, it seems to me now) in a soundproof room.”
“I received an email from Harvey, inviting me again to New York for a screening of “W.E.” After the screening, we would have drinks in TriBeCa. I then received a phone call from one of his male assistants to arrange my transportation. Feeling more confident about the new sense of boundaries that we had established in our last meeting, I attended the screening on my own this time. Afterward, as planned, his male assistant arranged for me to get to the Tribeca Grill, where Harvey would be joining us. I met a female assistant when I arrived there. I was expecting that it would be a group of us, as it had been for the reading, but she informed me it would just be Mr. Weinstein. She would sit with me until he arrived. She seemed on edge, but…