It’s been two weeks since the New York Times published its bombshell report with sexual harassment and assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and women are still coming forward with more claims. Yesterday, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o wrote an op-ed in the Times, claiming that Weinstein had harassed her on a number of occasions over several years.
According to Nyong’o, she first met Weinstein in 2011 when she was a student at the Yale School of Drama, where she was warned by an acquaintance that “he can be a bully” but was introduced nonetheless. While nothing happened initially, during a second encounter, Nyong’o says Weinstein offered to give Nyong’o a massage at his house while his family was there; panicked, Nyong’o offered to give him a massage instead but stopped after he said he wanted to take off his pants. During a later incident, Nyong’o alleges that Weinstein propositioned her for sex and threatened her career once she said no.
After Nyong’o’s breakout role in the 2013 film 12 Years A Slave, she says, Weinstein told her at an industry party that he was “ashamed of his actions” and said he would be more respectful in the future. “But I made a quiet promise to myself to never ever work with Harvey Weinstein,” the actress writes. The disgraced studio head later tried to offer Nyong’o a role in an upcoming film, but she and her agent repeatedly declined.
Nyong’o credits her success to working with “women in positions of power, along with men who are feminists in their own right who have not abused their power.” She writes what many other victims have mentioned: She believed this was how the entertainment world was, and she didn’t think she had the power to change it.
“I hope we are in a pivotal moment where a sisterhood — and brotherhood of allies — is being formed in our industry,” she explains in her op-ed. “I hope we can form a community where a woman can speak up about abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed and instead being ridiculed. That’s why we don’t speak up — for fear of suffering twice, and for fear of being labeled and characterized by our moment of powerlessness.”
Nyong’o also writes her hope that these stories will serve as a cautionary tale for those who try to “forgive” Weinstein in the future. “Now that we are speaking, let us never shut up about this kind of thing. I speak up to make certain that this is not the kind of misconduct that deserves a second chance. I speak up to contribute to the end of the conspiracy of silence,” she concludes.
There’ve been other revelations in the mounting allegations against Weinstein this week. Law enforcement officials in New York, Los Angeles, and London have announced that they’re actively investigating crimes allegedly committed by Weinstein. Meanwhile, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino issued a mea culpa in the Times stating that he knew what Weinstein was doing and regretted not doing more to stop it.
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