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In a New York Times op-ed, the Academy Award-winning actress detailed a series of encounters she had with the entertainment mogul, dating back to 2011, when she was still a student at Yale.
Nyong’o said she was introduced to Weinstein at an awards ceremony in Berlin, years before her first major movie role. Shortly after, she said the producer invited her to a film screening at his family’s home in Connecticut. Nyong’o accepted the invitation and joined him for lunch prior to the screening. But it didn’t take long for her to notice red flags.
The 34-year-old wrote that Weinstein pressured her to drink alcohol during lunch. She insisted she was fine with juice, but the producer was adamant.
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.
Weinstein eventually gave up, and told the actress she was stubborn. After the meal, the two went to Weinstein’s home, where they joined the producer’s children in the screening room. Fifteen minutes after the film began, Weinstein told Nyong’o he wanted to show her something outside the room. Nyong’o told him she wanted to finish the movie, but, once again, the producer insisted.
"I did not want another back-and-forth in front of his kids, so I complied and left the room with him," she wrote. "I explained that I really wanted to see the film. He said we’d go back shortly."
Nyong’o said Weinstein then took her to his bedroom and offered to give her a massage.
"I thought he was joking at first. He was not," she wrote. "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."
Minutes later, Weinstein allegedly said he wanted to take off his pants. Nyong’o told him not to, as it would make her uncomfortable; however, the actress claims he did it anyway. It was at this point, Nyong’o decided to remove herself from the situation. But she said she "didn’t quite know how to process" the incident. She knew it was inappropriate, but convinced herself it was not "overtly sexual."
"I was entering into a business where the intimate is often professional and so the lines are blurred," she recalled telling herself.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t her last uncomfortable encounter with Weinstein. The producer later invited her to a staged reading of his Finding Neverland Broadway show. Nyong’o went … but with two of her trusted male friends. Nyong’o said this encounter went much better than the last, which made Nyong’o believe she had established boundaries. So, when he invited her to drinks at a Tribeca restaurant, she agreed, assuming she would be joining a group. It was just her and Weinstein.
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.” I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. 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. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.
I was silent for a while before I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer. “You have no idea what you are passing up,” he said. “With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass,” I replied.
In 2013, the producer allegedly approached her at an after party for the premiere of 12 Years a Slave. He congratulated her on her rapid success and promised to respect her more in the future. It was at this time, Nyong’o vowed to never work with Weinstein.
You can read Nyong’o’s full account on the New York Times’ website.