Although Oscar-winning actress, Lupita Nyong’o, is seen on the big screen and has opened up on stage about her personal life, there is something she has kept private for a few years, until now.
Here is a break down of the personal and disturbing information Nyong’o writes in the New York Times:
After learning about the disturbing encounters multiple women have had with former film studio executive, Harvey Weinstein, Nyong’o could no longer stay silent.
CREDIT: @LUPITANYONGO / INSTAGRAM
Nyong’o met Weinstein in 2011 at an awards ceremony. He was introduced to her as “the most powerful producer in Hollywood.” In hopes of working with Weinstein in the future, Nyong’o, then a drama student hoping to make it in Hollywood someday, exchanged contact information with him.
Soon after their first encounter, Weinstein sent an invitation to Nyong’o for lunch and a movie screening at his home with his family.
CREDIT: LUPITA NYONG’O / FACEBOOK
As soon as they arrived to the restaurant for lunch, Weinstein ordered a vodka and diet soda. Nyong’o ordered a juice, which Weinstein did not like, so he told the waiter to bring her a vodka and diet soda instead. Nyong’o declined and asked the waiter to bring her a juice, as she had requested. Being very “pushy and idiosyncratic,” Weinstein kept insisting for the waiter to bring Nyong’o a vodka and diet soda. Although the waiter followed Weinstein’s orders and brought Nyong’o the alcoholic drink, she didn’t take even a sip. After asking why she wouldn’t drink it, Nyong’o responded, “Because I don’t like vodka and I don’t like diet soda, and I don’t like them together.” Weinstein smiled at her response and said to her, “You are going to drink that.” Although he kept insisting, Nyong’o smiled and told Weinstein once again, that she wouldn’t be drinking it.
After lunch, Nyong’o and Weinstein headed over to his house for the screening, where Nyong’o was put in an even more uncomfortable and dangerous situation.
CREDIT: LUPITA NYONG’O / CINEMATOLOGIA / FACEBOOK
Nyong’o joined some of Weinstein’s family and friends in his screening room to watch a film, but 15 minutes into the movie Weinstein asked Nyong’o to step out because he wanted to show her something. Even though Nyong’o told Weinstein that she wanted to stay to continue watching the film, he kept insisting. For the sake of not causing a scene in front of his family, Nyong’o left with Weinstein. He led Nyong’o into his bedroom and told her that he wanted to give her a massage. Nyong’o immediately felt nervous and uncomfortable, so she thought quickly on her feet and offered to give Weinstein a massage instead. This way, Nyong’o would be able to control the situation and keep an eye on his hands.
As Weinstein removed his shirt and laid down for his massage, Nyong’o tried to rationalize the situation, thinking about how her drama classes at Yale included body work and massage techniques. Then Weinstein announced that he wanted to take off his pants. Nyong’o told him not to, but he got up to do so anyway. That was her cue to get out of the room immediately.
Time passed and Nyong’o had her third encounter with Weinstein.
He sent her an invitation to attend a staged reading of one of his new Broadway shows, and even said she could bring two friends. Nyong’o and her friends went to the reading and had dinner with Weinstein after. Weinstein sat Nyong’o next to him and sat her friends at a separate table. The entire time, Weinstein remained charming and respectful. After this encounter, Nyong’o admits she had developed a different impression of him. “I left feeling that perhaps he had learned my boundaries and was going to respect them,” she writes.
A few months later, Nyong’o was invited by Weinstein to a film screening in New York. It was at this point that she decided to never work with him no matter how great the opportunity could be for her career.
CREDIT: LUPITA NYONG’O / MIA GB ART / FACEBOOK
Because Weinstein had been so charming during their third encounter, Nyong’o felt more comfortable accepting this invitation by herself. After the screening, the plan was to get food and drinks. Nyong’o thought it would be a group of people going to dinner, but she soon realized she was alone with Weinstein. They arrived at the restaurant, and before the food arrived Weinstein says, “Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.”
Nyong’o was in shock. She told Weinstein that she preferred to eat at the restaurant. He told her to stop being so naïve, that this was the type of thing you have to do in order to get ahead in the business. Nyong’o declined his offer again and he said, “You have no idea what you are passing up.” To this Nyong’o responded, “With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass.”
After winning an Academy Award in 2014, Nyong’o received an offer to play a role in one of the Weinstein Company’s films. She declined.
CREDIT: @LUPITANYONGO / INSTAGRAM
Nyong’o and her agent met with Weinstein in person to discuss the role. And of course, Weinstein behaved extremely pushy. However, no matter how much Weinstein insisted, Nyong’o declined his offer. That was her very last encounter with the producer.
Even though revisiting these memories has been upsetting and disturbing for Nyong’o, she refuses to stay quiet.
CREDIT: LUPITA NYONG’O / AFROPUNK / FACEBOOK
Rather than keeping silent about sexual assault, Nyong’o encourages women to speak their truth. She writes: “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.”
Since the release of the New York Times piece, Weinstein has come forward to deny Nyong’o’s claims. In a statement released to E! News by one of his representatives, Weinstein says to have “a different recollection of the events, but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry.” The Weinstein rep even claims Nyong’o invited him to see her on Broadway last year. She has yet to respond to this statement.
Although there have been several statements released from over 40 accusers, Nyong’o is the only woman so far who has been singled out by Weinstein. She is also the only black woman so far to have released a statement about Weinstein’s behavior. And it’s this correlation that’s making people on the internet question Weinstein’s response.
If you or someone you know needs help reporting or figuring out your next steps after a sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.