Harvey Weinstein denied claims by Lupita Nyong’o that he had repeatedly sexually harrassed her while she was still a graduate student at the Yale School of Drama. Nyong’o wrote about the experience in a powerful New York Times op-ed published Thursday.
But Weinstein is saying he doesn’t remember the same sequence of events: “Mr. Weinstein has a different recollection of the events, but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry,” his rep said in a statement. “Last year, she sent a personal invitation to Mr. Weinstein to see her in her Broadway show Eclipsed.”
A spokesperson for Nyong’o says the Oscar-winning actress has “no further comment.”
Weinstein’s response is the first time that he has responded directly to sexual harrassment claims against him. He remained mum when the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and Kate Beckinsale spoke out. Nyong’o is the first black woman to speak out about Weinstein’s aggressive behavior.
In the op-ed, Nyong’o laid out multiple incidents when the movie mogul sexually harassed and propositioned her.
“Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage,” Nyong’o wrote of one incident. “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.”
She is one of many actresses who have come forward with their stories of harassment or assault by Weinstein after The New York Times and New Yorker both published exposes on his three decades of attacking women.
“I did not know that things could change,” Nyong’o added. “I did not know that anybody wanted things to change. So my survival plan was to avoid Harvey and men like him at all costs, and I did not know that I had allies in this.”
“I hope we are in a pivotal moment where a sisterhood — and brotherhood of allies — is being formed in our industry. I hope we can form a community where a woman can speak up about abuse and not suffer another abuse by not being believed and instead being ridiculed. That’s why we don’t speak up — for fear of suffering twice, and for fear of being labeled and characterized by our moment of powerlessness.”