It’s been a couple of weeks since the explosive New York Times investigative report on Harvey Weinstein was published, in which women, including actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, alleged the prolific producer had sexually assaulted and harassed them. According to sources, this behavior has been happening since the 90s.
MORE: WATCH: Adrienne Bailon Recalls Being Sexually Harassed as a Teen
Since the story broke, many more actresses have come forward to expose their own encounters with Weinstein, and women and men, affected directly or indirectly by sexual abuse, have publicly spoken out against the Miramax co-founder’s behavior. Through the #MeToo social media movement, women have shared their stories of abuse and thereby grown a community of support. The conversation is getting bigger and louder by the day, thanks in large part to a growing number of seriously brave women.
Now we can count Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o among the fearless celebrities who are speaking out. In a New York Times op-ed piece, the Black Panther star revealed the inappropriateness she encountered with the Hollywood heavyweight, which began when she was still a student at the Yale School of Drama.
In the explosive piece, Nyong'o shares that Weinstein continuously arranged opportunities for the two to be alone and repeatedly made sexual advances toward her. The first incident occurred with the former Weinstein Company co-founder invited the actress to watch a movie at his home, with his children.
“I settled in for the film, but about 15 minutes in, Harvey came for me, saying he wanted to show me something,” Nyong'o writes. “I protested that I wanted to finish the film first, but he insisted I go with him, laying down the law as though I too was one of his children. I did not want another back-and-forth in front of his kids, so I complied and left the room with him. I explained that I really wanted to see the film. He said we’d go back shortly.”
The star continued, “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.”
After a strange series of events, there was a final encounter in which Weinstein propositioned Nyong’o at a hotel. The actress had arrived for a group dinner in the hotel’s restaurant only to find herself alone with the producer. (This is emerging as one of Weinstein’s popular M.O.’s, based on other accounts.)
“Before the starters arrived, he announced: 'Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal,'" N’yongo shares. “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.
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. ‘Then I guess we are two ships passing in the night.’ I had never heard that saying before, so I remember asking him what it meant. ‘It means just that,’ he said. ‘We are two ships going in two different directions.’
‘Yes, I guess we are.’
‘So we are done here,’ he said. ‘You can leave.’
‘I just want to know that we are good,’ I said.
‘I don’t know about your career, but you’ll be fine,’ he said. It felt like both a threat and a reassurance at the same time; of what, I couldn’t be sure.”
Nyong’o ended her piece by writing, “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.”
Since the allegations began, Weinstein has been fired from his company and removed from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His wife, Marchesa designer Georgina Chapman, announced she was leaving him and he entered a rehab facility for sex addiction. (How sexual assault can be equated with sex addition is beyond us, but it seems to be the Hollywood, "I f*&ked up" solution to things.)
We salute Lupita, and all the other sheroes who are speaking out and calling for action—against the perpetrators themselves, and the silence that has protected them for far too long.
Read the full story here.