Lupita Nyong’o is the latest Hollywood star to call out Harvey Weinstein for sexual harassment, revealing she’s had uncomfortable encounters with the disgraced film executive whom she first met as a student at the Yale School of Drama.
Nyong’o wrote of the experience for The New York Times, where she recalled an incident that took place after she was invited to a movie screening at Weinstein’s house, where he claimed they were going to watch one of his competitor’s films with his family.
Once they arrived, Nyong’o alleges the producer led her into a bedroom and offered to give her a massage. She declined.
“I thought he was joking at first. He was not,” she wrote. “For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe.”
Forced to think quickly on her feet, the Black Panther star says she offered to give Weinstein a massage instead because “it would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times.”
Weinstein then took it a step further, telling the Oscar-winner that he wanted to remove his pants, which prompted Nyong’o to head for the door.
“I didn’t quite know how to process the massage incident. I reasoned that it had been inappropriate and uncalled-for, but not overtly sexual,” she wrote. “Though the incident with Harvey had made me uncomfortable, I was able to explain and justify it to myself and shelve it as an awkward moment.
“I didn’t know how to proceed without jeopardizing my future. But I knew I would not be accepting any more visits to private spaces with Harvey Weinstein,” she said.
While that would be their only one-on-one interaction, the talented thespian did accept a group dinner invitation from Weinstein years later, where he, once again, showed his true colors.
“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,'” she wrote. “I was stunned…. 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.”
After declining, she was told to leave the dinner, but still felt the need to ask Weinstein if they were still “good.” She claims he said, “I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine.”
Over a year later, Weinstein apologized while saying he was “ashamed” of his actions, but by then Nyong’o had him all figured out.
“I made a quiet promise to myself to never ever work with Harvey Weinstein.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.