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WGO? Lupita speaks out on Harvey Weinstein

WGO? Lupita speaks out on Harvey Weinstein

I had felt very much alone when these things happened, and I had blamed myself for a lot of it, quite like many of the other women who have shared their stories.

But now that this is being discussed openly, I have not been able to avoid the memories resurfacing. I have felt sick in the pit of my stomach. 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 behavior.

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.

I opened the door and stood by the frame. He put his shirt on and again mentioned how stubborn I was. I agreed with an easy laugh, trying to get myself out of the situation safely…

I didn’t quite know how to process the massage incident. I reasoned that it had been inappropriate and uncalled-for, but not overtly sexual. I was entering into a business where the intimate is often professional and so the lines are blurred…

A couple of months later, I received an email from Harvey, inviting me again to New York for a screening of “W.E.” After the screening, we would have drinks in TriBeCa… I met a female assistant when I arrived there. I was expecting that it would be a group of us, as it had been for the reading, but she informed me it would just be Mr. Weinstein. She would sit with me until he arrived. She seemed on edge, but I could only imagine how stressful it was to work for a man who had so much going on…

Not long after I won the Academy Award in 2014, I received an offer to play a role in one of the Weinstein Company’s forthcoming films. I knew I would not do it simply because it was the Weinstein Company, but I did not feel comfortable telling this to anybody. I turned down the role, but Harvey would not take no for an answer. While at Cannes, he insisted on meeting with me in person. I agreed to do it only because my agent would be present. In the meeting, he was honest about intending to persuade me to do his movie. I told him I simply did not feel it was a role I needed to play. He said he was open to making it bigger, more significant, maybe they could add a love scene. He said if I did this one for him, he would do another one for me — basically guaranteeing backing a star-vehicle film for me. I ran out of ways of politely saying no and so did my agent. I was so exasperated by the end that I just kept quiet. Harvey finally accepted my position and expressed that he still wanted to work with me at some point. “Thank you, I hope so,” I lied…

…I share all of this now because I know now what I did not know then. I was part of a growing community of women who were secretly dealing with harassment by Harvey Weinstein. But I also did not know that there was a world in which anybody would care about my experience with him…

…Fortunately for me, I have not dealt with any such incidents in the business since. And I think it is because all the projects I have been a part of have had women in positions of power, along with men who are feminists in their own right who have not abused their power. What I am most interested in now is combating the shame we go through that keeps us isolated and allows for harm to continue to be done…

This commentary is all from Lupita Nyoung’o. They are all apart of an Opinion Editorial (Op Ed) that she wrote for the New York Times. There’s considerably more there and I suggest that you click on the banner below and check it out. One of the points she seek to make is that she is one in many who have silently suffered. And as this recent advent of the tides shifting in the entertainment community in regards to sexual harassment in the workplace, I ask the question: How prevalent is sexual harassment beyond the entertainment community and are the voices of those victims being heard now as well. What do you think?

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