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Lizzo responds amid harassment lawsuit: ‘I’m not the villain people and media have portrayed me to be’

Lizzo performs at the United Center on May 17, 2023, in Chicago. Lizzo has been sued by three former dancers who accuse the Grammy winner of sexual harassment and allege the singer and her production company created a hostile work environment.Rob Grabowski/Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP

Days after a group of former backup dancers filed a lawsuit against Lizzo, alleging the performer subjected them to sexual harassment, the Grammy winner posted a statement to social media saying it “was never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team.”

Lizzo, whose meteoric career has been defined by her message of body positivity and inclusion, wrote on Instagram Thursday that she felt the need to respond publicly to the allegations because “they are too outrageous not to be addressed.”

The “Good as Hell” singer wrote that while she is “very open” when it comes to expressing herself, respect for women is one of her central principles.


“I am not here to be looked at as a victim, but I also know that I am not a villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days,” Lizzo wrote. “There is nothing I take more seriously than the respect we deserve as women in the world.”

The legal complaint filed by the dancers names Melissa Viviane Jefferson, known by the stage name Lizzo, her production company Big Grrrl Big Touring, Inc., and Shirlene Quigley, captain of the performer’s dance team, according to the Associated Press.

The court filing claims that after performing a concert in Amsterdam, Lizzo and her crew attended a sexually themed show at a club where “Lizzo began inviting cast members to take turns touching the nude performers,” the Associated Press reported. During the show, Lizzo allegedly led a chant pressuring one of the plaintiffs to touch the breasts of one of the nude women performing at the club, AP reports of the filing.

According to CNN, a separate plaintiff alleged that the singer expressed “thinly veiled” concerns about the plaintiff’s “weight gain,” according to the lawsuit.


When Beyoncé performed the “Queen Remix” of her single “Break My Soul” at Gillette Stadium on Tuesday, she appeared to omit Lizzo’s name from a list of famous Black women usually included in the song — and fans at the concert in Foxborough took notice.

At previous stops on her Renaissance tour, Beyoncé has mentioned Lizzo alongside Nina Simone, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, and others, as she pays tribute to influential Black women performers.

But in the wake of the lawsuit, Beyoncé appeared to repeat Erykah Badu’s name four times — even as the screen behind her flashed “Lizzo.”

Several videos noting the apparent omission were posted to social media.

In June, Lizzo expressed gratitude to Beyoncé for including her name in the “Break My Soul” remix.

“I think of what we all mean to people and how cyclical it is,” Lizzo said in a video posted to Instagram at the time. “We are all so infinitesimally and maximally connected and significant. It’s an honor. Thank You Beyoncé.”

Requests for comment sent to representatives for Lizzo and Beyoncé were not immediately returned on Wednesday.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Emma Glassman-Hughes can be reached at Follow her @eglassmanhughes.