“I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be,” Lizzo wrote in a lengthy note shared on Instagram on Thursday.
Grammy Award-winning artist Lizzo, whose real name is Melissa Viviane Jefferson, has responded to the accusations made against her by three former dancers.
Earlier this week outlets reported a lawsuit had been filed against the singer, her production company (Big Grrrl Big Touring), and dance captain Shirlene Quigley. The plaintiffs – Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez – accusing Lizzo of sexual, racial, and religious harassment.
Lizzo Issues A Response
“These last few days have been gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing,” she wrote on Instagram. “My work ethic, morals, and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized.”
Lizzo called the accusations “outrageous” and “unbelievable.” “These sensationalized stories are coming from former employees who have already publicly admitted that they were told their behavior on tour was inappropriate and unprofessional,” she continued.
The lawsuit states that one dancer, Davis, was abruptly terminated after recording a meeting following an exhausting 12-hour rehearsal where she felt afraid to leave for the bathroom and ultimately had an unfortunate incident. Additionally, Williams lost her job after challenging Lizzo in a meeting, while Rodriguez resigned in solidarity with her fellow dancers, citing fears of physical harm from the artist. These claims have sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry, prompting concern over the treatment of dancers in the music industry. Lizzo acknowledged letting some of her team go over the years, but said, “with passion comes hard work and high standards.”
“As an artist I have always been very passionate about what I do. I take my music and my performances seriously, because at the end of the day, I only want to put out the best art that represents me and my fans.
“Sometimes I have to make hard decisions but it’s never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team.”
Inside the Lawsuit Against Lizzo
The lawsuit also claims they were paid differently based on their race and size. Davis, Williams and Rodriguez said they asked to be paid 50 percent of their weekly pay during downtime, but were declined and offered 25 percent. According to their statements, “only the dance cast, comprised of full-figured women of color” were treated this way.
“The stunning nature of how Lizzo and her management team treated their performers seems to go against everything Lizzo stands for publicly, while privately she weight-shames her dancers and demeans them in ways that are not only illegal but absolutely demoralizing,” the plaintiffs’ lawyer Ron Zambrano said in a statement.
“There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world. I know what it feels like to be body-shamed on a daily basis and would absolutely never criticize or terminate an employee because of their weight.”
She concluded, “I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this. I want to thank everyone who has reached out in support to lift me up during this difficult time.”
This story is ongoing.
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