The Oscar winner, 34, wrote that she first met the former executive, 65, at a 2011 awards ceremony in Berlin while she was a student at the Yale School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut. “I tried to vet this famous producer by asking my dinner-table companions what they knew of him,” she recalled. “A woman who was a producer herself cautiously advised me to ‘keep Harvey in your corner.’ She said: ‘He is a good man to know in the business, but just be careful around him. He can be a bully.’ And so I exchanged contacts with him in the hopes that I would be considered for one of his projects.”
Soon after, Nyong’o and Weinstein had lunch at a restaurant near his home in Westport, Connecticut. She claimed he told her that she “needed to drink [a] vodka and diet soda,” but she refused and ordered a juice. After lunch, they went to his house to watch one of his competitor’s films with his family. About 15 minutes into the movie, Weinstein led Nyong’o into his bedroom “and announced that he wanted to give me a massage,” she alleged, adding that she “thought he was joking at first.”
To avoid the situation, she offered to give him a massage instead. “It would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times,” the 12 Years a Slave actress wrote. Midway through the shirtless massage, “he said he wanted to take off his pants,” she claimed. “I told him not to do that and informed him that it would make me extremely uncomfortable. He got up anyway to do so and I headed for the door.”
The producer later invited Nyong’o to a reading of his Broadway play Finding Neverland. She invited two male friends, but claimed Weinstein made them “sit at a different table” at the dinner that followed. “He was definitely a bully, but he could be really charming, which was disarming and confusing,” she wrote.
A few months later, the Eclipsed star and Weinstein had drinks after a screening in New York City. He allegedly offered to “have the rest of our meal” in a private room upstairs. “I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant,” she wrote. “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.”
Nyong’o declined and was told she could leave. Before heading out, she asked Weinstein if they were “good,” to which she claimed he responded, “I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine.”
She ended her essay with a powerful message: “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.”
More than 40 women, including A-listers Angelina Jolie and Rose McGowan, have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment, assault and misconduct against the mogul since the Times published an exposé earlier this month. He was subsequently removed from his film studio and is seeking treatment in Arizona. In a previous statement to Us Weekly, Weinstein’s spokesperson said he denies “any allegations of non-consensual sex.”