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Lizzo's former dancer: 'There was a lot of emotional abuse'

Arianna Davis, one of the dancers involved in the lawsuit against Lizzo, shares her story with Scripps News.
Lizzo's former dancer:  'There was a lot of emotional abuse'
Posted at 10:34 AM, Aug 02, 2023

Lizzo, the Grammy Award-winning artist known for her commitment to empowering and supporting women, is now facing serious allegations in a recently filed lawsuit.

The lawsuit, brought forward by former dancers Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams, and Noelle Rodriguez, accuses Lizzo of subjecting them to sexual and religious harassment, weight-shaming, and fostering a hostile work environment during her "Special" tour.

In addition to suing Lizzo, the dancers are also taking legal action against her production company, Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc., and the captain of her dance team, Shirlene Quigley.

Now Arianna Davis, one of the dancers involved in the lawsuit, is speaking out.

"Do I think she's [Lizzo] a terrible person? No. And I don't want people to think that this is some sort of ploy to, like, run a smear campaign or anything like that," Davis told Scripps News. "I just think that good people do bad things sometimes, and it was not a good work environment; there was a lot of emotional abuse happening."

Davis says that her experience working with Lizzo had a profoundly negative impact on her well-being. She expressed her shock at discovering firsthand that someone who is known for promoting positivity could cause such harm.

"I don't know if it's fame, or money, or power that has, you know, kind of allowed her to lose herself," said Davis. "But I've never felt more conscious about myself or my body in my life than on this job. And I've never lost myself the way that I've lost myself on this job."

SEE MORE: Former dancers for Lizzo sue, citing sexual harassment claims

Ron Zambrano, the attorney representing all three plaintiffs, also spoke to Scripps News and said these types of cases, claiming abuse to actors, dancers, or people on the bottom rung, are not uncommon in the entertainment industry.

As stated in the lawsuit, Lizzo allegedly pressured Davis to touch a nude performer despite her multiple refusals to do so. Additionally, Quigley reportedly discussed Davis' sexual history in interviews and on social media, according to legal documents.

"The power and balance is what makes this really so horrendous; you can't really say ‘no’ when a global icon is asking you to do these things, chanting these things, and encouraging others to make you do these things," Zambrano said. "It's really like a hazing ritual, and instead of hazing in the normal sense that we know in college, it's really you should participate and look at these sexual acts, and you just shouldn't be doing that as an employer."

Davis says that the main reason it took her a while to speak up was because it was hard for her to accept and believe that Lizzo "would do anything other than something absolutely amazing for humankind."

Since the news broke Tuesday, Zambrano said they have received calls from individuals who have corroborated these claims. Additionally, he said that Lizzo’s creative director has also confirmed certain aspects of their story.

Scripps News did reach out to Lizzo and her team for a response to these allegations, but they have not responded.

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