The number of women victimized by producer Harvey Weinstein has continued to grow. In a compelling op-ed for The New York Times, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has added her voice to the chorus. After sharing the details of several uncomfortable encounters with Weinstein, Nyong’o ends with a rallying cry hopeful of change. “I speak up to contribute to the end of the conspiracy of silence,” she writes.
When Lupita was first introduced to Weinstein in 2011, a female producer described him as a bully and warned her to “be careful around him” while also agreeing that he was a good person to know in the business. Of her first encounter with him when they exchanged contact information, Nyong’o writes, “he didn’t quite put me at ease, but he didn’t alarm me, either.” Over the next few years, Lupita had a few Weinstein encounters, some innocuous and some sinister. During one encounter, he took her to his bedroom and told her he wanted to give her a massage. She quickly realized that he wasn’t joking and began to feel unsafe. She offered to give him a massage instead, something that would allow her “to be in control physically.” Although this encounter made her feel uncomfortable, she writes that she was “able to explain and justify it to myself.”
A few encounters later and Weinstein wanted to them to finish their meal in a private room upstairs. When Lupita refused, she was told by Weinstein that she was being naïve. “If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing,” she recalls him saying. Her refusal led to her not hearing from an angry Weinstein for years. Eventually, as she started seeing significant success as an actress, he tried to woo her for some projects. “But I made a quiet promise to myself to never ever work with Harvey Weinstein,” she writes.
As the news broke that his behavior was widespread, she reports feeling “such a flare of rage” upon learning that her experiences weren’t isolated incidents but fit in with a larger pattern. “I had shelved my experience with Harvey far in the recesses of my mind,” Nyong’o says, something for which she feels guilty. Weinstein responded to Nyong’o’s accusations through a spokesperson by praising her as an actress while denying the events took place as she described.
Nyong’o hopes that we are at a “pivotal moment” and says “now that we are speaking, let us never shut up about this kind of thing.”