When news surrounding the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfolded, many of us watched in dismay as woman after woman stepped forward to share their harrowing accounts of sexual assault, harassment, and intimidation at the hands of the notorious Hollywood producer. Ashely Judd, Minka Kelly, and Lupita Nyong’o are just three of the 30-plus women rounding out the list of his accusers.
However, Salma Hayek, whose breakthrough role came from the the Harvey Weinstein-produced film “Frida” and who appeared in six films released by his company, was notably silent. Streams of women had stepped up to accuse the producer of abuse, but even when evidence that she had been harassed by one of his own supporters quickly came to light, the actress remained quiet.
The Mexican actress has now broken her silence via an essay she penned for the New York Times. She details the agonizing story of how Weinstein terrorized her throughout the early start of her career and throughout the process of making “Frida.”
Hayek’s essay opens with an explanation on why she remained quiet about her experience with Weinstein up until now.
In her essay, titled “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too,” Hayek describes feeling like a survivor, and that her trauma was over.
She adds, “I hid from the responsibility to speak out with the excuse that enough people were already involved in shining a light on my monster. I didn’t consider my voice important, nor did I think it would make a difference.”
She then chronicles the slew of sexual requests she received from Weinstein, which Hayek repeatedly refused.
“No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn’t even involved with,” she recounts.
It also included rejecting his requests to massage her, shower with him, watch her shower, have a naked friend massage her, performing oral sex on her and getting naked with a woman.
Those no’s incited “Harvey’s Machiavellian rage.”
Hayek confesses the terror she experienced when, after spurning him again, he threatened to kill her.
“In his eyes, I was not an artist. I wasn’t even a person,” she says. “I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body.”
She goes on to detail a series of events in which a vengeful Weinstein attempted to completely push Hayek out of “Frida.” All this despite she having researched and worked on the film tirelessly for years, and the various blazing hoops the actress hurled herself through to ensure the its completion, including negotiating with the Mexican government for access to never before approved filming locations.
At one point, Hayek describes the soul-crushing moment Weinstein demanded she do a full-frontal sex scene, threatening to pull his resources from the film entirely if she didn’t oblige.
“We paid the price for standing up to him nearly every day of shooting,” Hayek writes. “It was clear to me he would never let me finish this movie without him having his fantasy one way or another. There was no room for negotiation.”
The response to Hayek’s essay has been filled with support.
What a brave and beautifully written piece.
— Joanne Sasvari (@joannesasvari) December 13, 2017
And in turn, women have found support and inspiration from Hayek’s words for themselves.
"For in every woman there is a girl" such true words
— Rhianna Miquel (@rhimiquel) December 13, 2017
For many, Hayek’s confession and the movement that spurred it acts as a note of optimism on women’s future.
When the time comes for the film I am creating about my hero to reach the screen, and I am unscathed by monsters, I will always remember I owe a debt to @salmahayek and the other #MeToo warriors. Thank you all so much!
— Gabriella Apicella (@storytails) December 13, 2017
Hayek’s story is packed to the brim with grief but it also highlights the need for feminism to penetrate male-dominated industries.
“Until there is equality in our industry, with men and women having the same value in every aspect of it, our community will continue to be a fertile ground for predators,” Hayek writes, expressing hope that her story will help raise the many voices that have and will shed light on a tragic problem so many women face.