American film producer, Harvey Weinstein, has been facing series of sexual assault accusations by Hollywood actresses for the past two weeks.
More than 40 women have come forward with allegations of rape, sexual harassment or assault since the New York Times first published an article exposing decades of Weinstein’s alleged misdeeds.
Kenyan-American actress Lupita Nyong’o is the latest of the accusers in what has become the biggest entertainment industry scandal in 2017.
The actress, in an opinion article for The NewYork Times, shared her experience with the entertainment mogul.
The actress said she first heard about Weinstein as a drama student at Yale School of Drama, and that he was introduced to her by an intermediary as “the most powerful producer in Hollywood”.
Nyong’o said she was told as an aspiring actress to “keep Harvey in your corner” by a woman she had dinner with. According to the actress, the woman had said: “He is a good man to know in the business, but just be careful around him. He can be a bully.”
The actress said when she finally met him, she “found him to be very direct and authoritative, but also charming. He didn’t quite put me at ease, but he didn’t alarm me, either” but during her second encounter, Nyong’o said he was “pushy and idiosyncratic more than anything”.
Recounting the assault, Nyong’o said she went visiting the director and “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. 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.
“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 rationalize giving him one and keep a semblance of professionalism in spite of the bizarre circumstance.
“He agreed to this and lay on the bed. I began to massage his back to buy myself time to figure out how to extricate myself from this undesirable situation. 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. 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.”
Nyong’o said she immediately left but on a subsequent occasion, Weinstein was more direct.
The actress wrote that the producer, during a dinner he invited her for, said, “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.
The actress continued, “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.
“His whole demeanor changed at that point.”
Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex with his accusers.
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