Lupita Nyong’o Shares Harrowing Harvey Weinstein Account: ‘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,’ Nyong’o says Weinstein told her

Last Updated: October 19, 2017 @ 10:34 PM

Actress Lupita Nyong’o shared her account of a harrowing series of encounters with Harvey Weinstein before she was famous, where she says the mogul told her she’d be successful in Hollywood if she slept with him.

Nyong’o, who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2014 for “12 Years a Slave,” wrote a lengthy op-ed for the New York Times on Thursday, where she identified as part of a “conspiracy of silence that has allowed this predator to prowl for so many years.”

Weinstein was fired from The Weinstein Company this month and is under criminal investigation in New York, Los Angeles and London after more than 50 women came forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct, including harassment and rape. A representative for Weinstein has stated that allegations of non-consensual sex are unequivocally denied by Mr. Weinstein.

Nyong’o recalls meeting Weinstein in Berlin in 2011 when she was still a student. A woman producer friend cautioned her to “keep Harvey in your corner.” Nyong’o said shortly after their meeting, back in the states, Weinstein invited her for a film screening at his home in Westport, Conn. — a tony neighborhood close to her Yale School of Drama campus in New Haven.

Prior to arriving at his home, the pair had lunch at a restaurant nearby where Weinstein insisted several times she drink alcohol, Nyong’o said. After meeting his staff and children at his Westport home, Weinstein and Nyong’o made it about 15 minutes through the film before he coaxed her out of the room with something had to show her.

“Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage. I thought he was joking at first. He was not … 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,” Nyong’o said.

“Before long he said he wanted to take off his pants. I told him not to do that and informed him that it would make me extremely uncomfortable,” she continues. “He got up anyway to do so and I headed for the door, saying that I was not at all comfortable with that. “If we’re not going to watch the film, I really should head back to school,” I said.”

Bizarrely, Weinstein offered Nyong’o a parting gift: a DVD box series of The Weinstein Company’s TV production “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” saying he would consider her for a part on the show. Originally airing on HBO, Nyong’o would later come to find the Jill Scott series ceased production in 2009.

The star would go on to have a more pleasant meeting with the mogul after that, a reading of his Broadway show “Finding Neverland,” where she was accompanied by two male friends. All three left the evening charmed by Weinstein, who held court at a large dinner after the reading.

Confident in their rapport, Nyong’o agreed to accompany Weinstein to a screening of the TWC film “W.E.,” directed by Madonna. At dinner afterwards, at the Tribeca Grill, Nyong’o said Weinstein bluntly stated their relationship should become sexual.

“Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal,” Nyong’o said Weinstein told her in the middle of dinner.

“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,” she wrote.

After she recovered from her shock, she said, she declined his offer.

“You have no idea what you are passing up,” she recalled Weinstein telling her.

“With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass,” she said she responded at the time.

Weinstein told her she could leave, according to Nyong’o, though she pressed him again to make sure there were no hard feelings.

“I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine,” she remembered Weinstein saying.

He would come to change his tune after her fast and award-winning rise. Read her full account here.

More to come…