Nyong'o speaks out on harassment

Actress Lupita Nyong’o said producer Harvey Weinstein wanted to give her a massage and later propositioned her.
Actress Lupita Nyong’o said producer Harvey Weinstein wanted to give her a massage and later propositioned her.

NEW YORK • Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o spoke up about producer Harvey Weinstein in an essay published in The New York Times on Thursday.

As she read the accounts of other women, she wrote: "I have felt such a flare of rage that the experience I recount below was not a unique incident with me, but rather part of a sinister pattern of behaviour."

She said she met him at an awards ceremony in Berlin in 2011, while she was a student at the Yale School of Drama.

Not long afterwards, he invited her to a screening at his home in Westport, Connecticut, where she met his domestic staff and young children, she wrote.

But he led her into a bedroom and announced he wanted to give her a massage.

"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," she wrote.

"Part of our drama school curriculum at Yale included body work, using massage techniques on one another to understand the connection between body, mind and emotion, and so I felt I could rationalise giving him one and keep a semblance of professionalism in spite of the bizarre circumstance."

The next time she met him, she tried to reset the boundaries by going to a staged reading of his Broadway show, Finding Neverland, with two male friends, she said.

But a fourth encounter followed, when she ended up having drinks with just him at Tribeca Grill and he propositioned her. When she said no to him, his demeanour changed and she recalled him saying: "Then I guess we are two ships passing in the night."

In 2013, when she was in Toronto for the premiere of 12 Years A Slave - for which she won an Oscar - Weinstein found her at an after-party and apologised to her.

"He said he couldn't believe how fast I had gotten to where I was and that he had treated me so badly in the past," she wrote. "But I made a quiet promise to myself to never ever work with Harvey Weinstein."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'Nyong'o speaks out on harassment'. Print Edition | Subscribe