Lupita Nyong’o Recounts Her Harrowing Harvey Weinstein Experiences
We still haven’t heard the last of Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, and probably won’t for some time. On Thursday, The New York Times published an op-ed by Lupita Nyong’o, in which she recounted multiple uncomfortable experiences she’s had with the former chief of The Weinstein Company that fit Weinstein’s pattern of abusive, manipulative, and inappropriate behavior.
In the op-ed, she explains that she first met Weinstein as a student at the Yale School of Drama and was told to be wary of him, that he could help her career but also be a “bully.” Shortly after that, he invited her to a private screening of a film with his family at his home in Connecticut, during which he took her to his bedroom and asked to give her a massage. She offered to give him one instead, and when he said he wanted to take off his pants she told him she needed to get back to school. On one occasion during a meal, Weinstein tried to push an alcoholic beverage on Nyong’o that she refused multiple times. At another dinner in Tribeca he told her they could eat in his private room upstairs, which she also refused. As they left she asked if they were okay, and he replied cryptically, “I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine.”
When she was in Toronto in 2013 for the premiere of her first feature, 12 Years a Slave, Weinstein found her at a party and apologized for his behavior in the past. She thanked him and made a mental note to herself to never try to work with him. After she won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2014, Weinstein insisted on meeting her in Cannes to offer her a role, which she had to refuse, again, multiple times. That, thankfully for her, was the last of it.
Nyong’o’s op-ed reiterates the familiar beats we’ve come to expect from these stories about the disgraced Hollywood mogul: career offers, coercion, bullying, harassment, intimidation, and vindictiveness if none of these tactics work. But in light of the response in Hollywood to these allegations against him, Nyong’o is hopeful for the future. At the end of her piece she writes:
I hope we are in a pivotal moment where a sisterhood — and brotherhood of allies — is being formed in our industry. I hope we can form a community where a woman can speak up about abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed and instead being ridiculed. That’s why we don’t speak up — for fear of suffering twice, and for fear of being labeled and characterized by our moment of powerlessness. Though we may have endured powerlessness at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, by speaking up, speaking out and speaking together, we regain that power. And we hopefully ensure that this kind of rampant predatory behavior as an accepted feature of our industry dies here and now.
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