Lupita Nyong’o is the latest in a long list of women to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment – claiming he tried to undress in front of her, and once told her that to be in the business she had to be ‘willing to do this kind of thing.’
Nyong’o wrote about her experiences with Weinstein in The New York Times
I met Harvey Weinstein in 2011 at an awards ceremony in Berlin, while I was still a student at the Yale School of Drama. An intermediary introduced him to me as “the most powerful producer in Hollywood.” As an aspiring actress, I was of course eager to meet people in the industry but cautious about strangers, and the intentions of men in general. So I tried to vet this famous producer by asking my dinner-table companions what they knew of him. A woman who was a producer herself cautiously advised me to “keep Harvey in your corner.” She said: “He is a good man to know in the business, but just be careful around him. He can be a bully.” And so 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.
Not long after we met in Berlin, Harvey wrote to me inviting me to attend a screening of a film — a competitor’s film similar to one he had produced. He said we would be watching it with his family at his home in Westport, Conn., which was not far away from New Haven, where I was living at the time. He would send a car to pick me up. I accepted the invitation.
The driver and I met Harvey in the little town of Westport, where he informed me that we would be having lunch at a restaurant before getting to his home. I did not think much of this. It was a busy restaurant, and as soon as we sat down he ordered a vodka and diet soda for himself. I asked for a juice. Harvey was unimpressed with my choice and told the waiter to bring me a vodka and diet soda instead. I declined and said I wanted the juice. We went back and forth until finally he turned to the waiter and said, “Get her what I tell you to get her. I’m the one paying the bill.” I smiled and remained silent. The waiter left and returned with a vodka and diet soda for me. He placed it on the table beside my water. I drank the water. Harvey told me that I needed to drink the vodka and diet soda. I informed him that I would not.
“Why not?” I remember him asking. “Because I don’t like vodka, and I don’t like diet soda, and I don’t like them together,” I said. “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.” And the meal proceeded without much further ado. In this second encounter with Harvey, I found him to be pushy and idiosyncratic more than anything.
We got to his home after lunch and I met his domestic staff and his young children. He took me on a brief tour of the house before he rounded us all up in the screening room to watch the film. He had just produced a similar film of his own, but everyone was raving about this rival version.
I settled in for the film, but about 15 minutes in, Harvey came for me, saying he wanted to show me something. 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.