Singer, Lizzo’s former dancers who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against her have said they are ‘shocked’ by her statement after she denied the allegations.
The singer, 35, is being sued by former backing dancers Crystal Williams, Arianna Davis, and Noelle Rodriguez for alleged sexual harassment, discrimination, and creating a hostile work environment.
Lizzo insisted the claims are untrue and alleged her accusers had previously been warned about their own ‘inappropriate and unprofessional’ conduct.
In their first UK interview, the trio told Channel 4 News they found Lizzo’s statement to be ‘disheartening’ and now believe her calls for female empowerment and body positivity are ‘performative’.
On their initial reaction to Lizzo’s statement, Crystal said: ‘Initially for me it just further deepened my disappointment in regards to how I was feeling and how I was treated.
‘I think the overall theme in all this is that our experiences were our experiences and our traumas were our traumas. In bringing that forward, it feels like it was disregarded completely.
‘It feels like we were made out to be putting out false allegations when that’s not the case.
‘So yes, it was very disheartening to read and feel overlooked especially when she stands for what she stands for in regards to women’s empowerment – being an advocate for mental health – being an advocate for body positivity – and to just further prove that that’s not the case, because nothing was acknowledged in that statement.’
The trio were asked whether the ordeal hurts more because they looked up to Lizzo for such a long time.
Arianna said: ‘It does hurt more. I look up to the fact she was using her platform to address issues that other artists weren’t doing but knowing her now, it was performative.’
Noelle added: ‘I just think it’s disheartening and disappointing […] It’s shocking to read a statement like that. In her words and the way she’s saying this, it’s invalidating not only our experience that she was there first-hand to witness […] but also other women who have previously worked with her that have come forward in light of this.
‘She mentioned something in this statement [around] protecting women – where was that same sentiment when I stated to her and wanted to talk out things and saying I’m resigning because I feel unsafe, I feel unheard, I’m disrespected.’
Noelle was then asked if she thinks the decision to sue Lizzo will undermine the singer’s activism.
She replied: ‘I don’t think so. We’re not trying to villainise her – we’re just trying to hold her accountable. We think she is capable of maybe changing the way she goes about things.’
Arianna added: ‘A person can do good things, very good things and those don’t go away. The goodness you put out into the world – it stays there. But two things can be true at the same time.
‘Someone that does good things can also do can do bad things and the sentiment applies […] People have been affected, it’s not just us […] The consistency of wrongdoing is very telling.’
The trio also answered questions about the timing of their decison to come forward as well as concerns from Lizzo’s fans that the people making the accusations are her former employees.
Crystal said: ‘I think for me I just want to make it clear that those were not the reasons provided to us in regards to why we were being terminated.
‘For my situation in particular, they told me I was being laid off due to budget cuts […] I even requested to speak to Lizzo on numerous occasions to which her management declined so that sentiment of her saying it was due to that, doesn’t hold any real weight to me.’
In her statement addressing the allegations, Lizzo wrote: ‘These last few days have been gut-wrenchingly difficult and overwhelmingly disappointing.
‘My work ethic, morals and respectfulness have been questioned. My character has been criticized. Usually I choose not to respond to false allegations but these are as unbelievable as they sound and too outrageous to not be addressed.
‘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.
‘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.
‘With passion comes hard work and high standards. 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.
‘l am not here to be looked at as a victim, but I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days.
‘I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but I cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not.
‘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.
‘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.’
Arianna, Crystal and Noelle have accused the Grammy winner – as well as the Big Grrrl Big Touring and dance team captain Shirlene Quigley – of creating a ‘sexually charged and uncomfortable’ work environment in their lawsuit.
The trio claim while on a concert trip with the artist to Amsterdam in February 2023, Lizzo invited them for a night out on the town that ended in the city’s Red Light District.
They said in their filing: ‘Things quickly got out of hand. Lizzo 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.’
The dancers added Lizzo allegedly ‘pressured’ and ‘goaded’ Arianna into touching one of the nude performers’ breasts.
She refused multiple times, while the popstar allegedly chanted louder and louder to encourage her to do the act, the lawsuit claimed. She eventually did touch the performer.
In another instance, the plaintiffs claim Lizzo invited the dancers to a club in Paris – but failed to mention that it was a nude cabaret bar. This ‘shocked’ the dancers, who said Lizzo ‘robbed them of the choice not to participate,’ the suit said.
Lizzo also allegedly made a claim the dancers were drinking before performances, which Williams then spoke out about. The popstar allegedly made the group go through an ‘excruciating’ 12-hour rehearsal.