HomeArts & EntertainmentMusicLizzo: Former staff support dancers accusing her of sexual harassment and fat-shaming

Lizzo: Former staff support dancers accusing her of sexual harassment and fat-shaming

Lizzo performs ‘Truth Hurts’ at Glastonbury 2023

Lizzo’s former employees are speaking out in support of three backup dancers who accused the singer of sexual harassment and body shaming in a new lawsuit.

The Grammy winner’s former creative director Quinn Wilson is among three of Lizzo’s ex-colleagues who have praised the plaintiffs for their courage “bringing [the allegations] to light”.

Filmmaker Sophia Nahli Allison said she declined to direct Lizzo’s 2022 documentary after she was “disrespected” by the “About Damn Time” hitmaker.

The allegations against Lizzo come months after the singer delivered one of the best performances at Glastonbury 2023

(AFP via Getty Images)

According to the legal filing, Lizzo (real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson) allegedly pressured one of her dancers, Arianna Davis, into touching a nude performer at an Amsterdam strip club.

It is also alleged that the Grammy winner set up a humiliating 12-hour re-audition for her dancers, and fostered a hostile work environment.

Other allegations against the 35-year-old star, her dance captain Shirlene Quigley, and Lizzo’s production company Big Grrrl Big Touring include assault, racial and religious harassment, fat-shaming, disability discrimination, and false imprisonment.

Representatives for Lizzo and Quigley didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from The Independent.


Listen: The Independent’s LA correspondent discusses Lizzo accusations on Woman’s Hour

The Independent’s LA correspondent discusses Lizzo accusations on Woman’s Hour

Peony Hirwani3 August 2023 05:30


Oscar-nominated director alleges that Lizzo ‘creates an extremely toxic and hostile working environment’

On her Instagram Story, Sophia Nahli Allison, whose short film A Love Song for Latasha (2019) was nominated for an Oscar, alleged that she exited her role as the director of a Lizzo documentary in 2019 because she “was treated with such disrespect”.

“I usually do not comment on anything pop culture related,” Allison wrote in her post. “But, in 2019, I traveled a bit with Lizzo to be the director of her documentary. I walked away after about two weeks. I was treated with such disrespect by her. I witnessed how arrogant and unkind she is. I was not protected and was thrown into a shitty situation with little support. My spirit said to run as fast as you fucking can and I’m so grateful I trusted by gut. I felt gaslit and was deeply hurt but I’ve healed.”

“Reading these reports made me realize how dangerous of a situation it was,” she added. “This kind of abuse of power happens far too often. Much love and support to the dancers.”

Sophia Nahli Allison on Instagram

(Sophia Nahli Allison/Instagram)

Tom Murray3 August 2023 05:03


Video: Lizzo’s defiant Instagram post just hours before lawsuit filed

Lizzo’s defiant Instagram post just hours before lawsuit filed

Tom Murray3 August 2023 04:04


Who is Lizzo?

In a feature for The Independent, Annabel Nugent looks back on Lizzo’s career.

“Lizzo’s pre-fame beginnings were humble: while trying to break into the music industry, she lived and slept in her car for a year. This period of the star’s life, which occurred at age 21 after the death of her father, contained “traumatic experiences” for the singer, she has previously said. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly after her documentary was released, Lizzo said: ‘I don’t think about it often, but recently I thought about it a lot where I’m having this full-circle moment of like, wow, I’m in my house that I’ve purchased and I’m watching this documentary about my life, talking about when I was sleeping in my car and on Thanksgiving. It’s very cyclical and full-circle.’

“After moving to Minneapolis, Lizzo became a regular performer on the underground circuit as she performed with indie hip-hop groups. In 2013, she released her debut album Lizzobangers, which was described by The Guardian as ‘at times joyfully nonsensical’, with ‘lethally pointed’ rap bars. Reminiscing about her underground days during an appearance on YouTube series Hot Ones, Lizzo said: “I dropped so many Lizzo bangers there and they supported me so f***ing much in Minneapolis.’”

Tom Murray3 August 2023 03:05


Watch: Lizzo’s dance captain sends message to fans amid lawsuit allegations

Lizzo’s dance captain sends message to fans amid lawsuit allegations

Tom Murray3 August 2023 02:09


What is alleged to have happened in Amsterdam?

One part of the lawsuit has got a lot of people talking. At an Amsterdam strip club, Lizzo allegedly “hounded” her employees to interact with nude employees.

The suit alleges that the singer “began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers, catching dildos launched from the performers’ vaginas, and eating bananas protruding from the performers’ vaginas.

“Lizzo then turned her attention to [plaintiff] Ms Davis and began pressuring M. Davis to touch the breasts of one of the nude women.”

Davis eventually acquiesced after facing peer pressure from Lizzo, the suit says, causing the rest of the group to burst into laughter.

“Plaintiffs were aghast with how little regard Lizzo showed for the bodily autonomy of her employees and those around her, especially in the presence of many people whom she employed,” the suit says.

Tom Murray3 August 2023 00:40


Listen: The Independent’s LA correspondent discusses Lizzo accusations on Woman’s Hour

The Independent’s LA correspondent discusses Lizzo accusations on Woman’s Hour

Tom Murray2 August 2023 21:59


Accusers share first interview

Two of the plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit have given their first interviews since the filing was announced yesterday.

Arianna Davis and Crystal Williams began dancing for Lizzo after competing on her Amazon Prime Video reality show, Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, in 2021.

“If there’s anything that I can do in my power to ensure that dancers or singers or whoever decides to work with her don’t have to go through that same experience, I’m going to do that,” Williams told CBS.

Tom Murray2 August 2023 21:28


Did Beyoncé change lyrics on her tour to omit singer’s name amid sexual harassment claims?

Beyoncé fans have speculated that she left Lizzo’s name out of a live performance due to recent allegations made against the singer.

The pop star, 41, regularly performs “Break My Soul (The Queens Remix)” as part of her set for the ongoing worldwide Renaissance tour.

There is a segment in the song’s lyrics in which Beyoncé lists off a number of Black female artists, including Lizzo, Lauryn Hill, Betty Davis, and her sister Solange Knowles.

During her performance in Boston, Massachusetts on Tuesday night (1 August), the singer altered the lyrics, appearing to leave out Lizzo’s name on purpose.

Maanya Sachdeva2 August 2023 21:03


Lizzo, the poster girl for body positivity, whose empowering image is now under threat

The “Good as Hell” singer has crafted a globally successful brand of body positivity and self-love, backed up by a litany of empowerment anthems. But as the star faces shocking allegations in a new lawsuit, my colleague Kate Ng digs into how she got here.

Maanya Sachdeva2 August 2023 20:03

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