Lizzo has issued a response to the allegations made against her and her production company by three of her former dancers. Lizzo’s camp — this includes her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc. (BGBT) and Shirlene Quigley, captain of Lizzo’s dance team — were accused of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment by the team’s former dancers in a legal complaint filed on Tuesday morning.
“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,” Lizzo wrote in a statement posted to her Instagram. “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.”
She continued, “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 been my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team.”
Lizzo ended her statement by saying that though she does not want to be perceived as a victim in the situation, she is “not the villain.”
“I 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,” she wrote. “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.”
The dancers — Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez — have alleged sexual, religious and racial harassment, disability discrimination, assault and false imprisonment, among a slew of other charges against Lizzo, the production company and Quigley.
Allegations against Lizzo made by Davis include such coercive tactics as being pressured to touch nude dancers during a live sex show in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, “robbing [dancers] of the choice not to participate” in outings to nude cabaret bars, according to the plaintiff’s recount of events. Davis additionally stated she felt fat-shamed after Lizzo and choreographer Tanisha Scott called attention to her weight gain and for not being committed enough to her role.
Davis also accuses Quigley, the dance captain who also doubled as a judge on Lizzo’s Amazon reality show, “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls,” in 2021, of pushing her Christian beliefs onto dancers. According to the suit, after discovering that Davis was a virgin, Quigley routinely discussed the subject, brought it up in interviews, and even posted about it on social media (“broadcasting an intensely personal detail about Ms. Davis to the world”). Quigley allegedly referred to Davis as a “non-believer,” according to the suit, and was quoted saying: “No job and no one will stop me from talking about the Lord.”
Quigley has not responded to Variety‘s request for comment.
Elsewhere in the suit, plaintiffs allege mistreatment from BGBT toward the dancers. “BGBT’s management team consisted entirely of white Europeans who often accused the Black members of the dance team of being lazy, unprofessional, and having bad attitudes,” the complaint reads.
All three dancers no longer work under Lizzo’s production company — both Davis and Williams were fired and Rodriguez resigned.
In a statement shared with Variety, the dancers’ attorney Ron Zambrano, pointed out “the stunning nature of how Lizzo and her management team treated their performers” for seemingly going “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.”