Months Before Lizzo’s Recent Sexual Harassment Suit, 14 of Her Backup Dancers Received a Settlement Totaling $100K

Six months prior to being hit with sexual harassment allegations from three of her former backup dancers, a report shows that 14 of Lizzo’s dancers received a separate settlement for footage used in her documentary, “Love, Lizzo.”

Documents reveals Lizzo's backup dancers received a settlement from appeared in her 2022 documentary, "Love, Lizzo" prior to filing lawsuit against the singer for alleged sexual harassment and fat-shaming.
Document reveals Lizzo’s backup dancers received a settlement from appearing in her 2022 documentary, “Love, Lizzo,” prior to filing a lawsuit against the singer for alleged sexual harassment and fat-shaming. (Photo: @lizzobeating/Instagram)

In January, Slay Smiles, the dancer’s manager, claimed that intimate discussions around misogyny, weight-shaming and racism were used in the 2022 film. He claimed in a previous email obtained by The Los Angeles Times that they never agreed to filming and were never compensated for being in the documentary.

“After seeing all of the videos, I’m sure you realize how sensitive and private the dialogue was for the talent involved,” Smiles wrote to Alan Brunswick, an attorney for the production company that released the film.

“This was supposed to be a safe space to express and share with the Principal talent [Lizzo], so by sharing this unauthorized footage to the public without their approval/permissions, has truly exploited these women and violated the emotional safety they had in those moments.”

Smiles also alleges that the performers’ contract didn’t state that behind-the-scenes’ footage would be used, and they were unaware until the film’s release. However, Brunswick claims that everyone gave consent, telling the outlet, “They all knew the cameras were there.”

The matter was reportedly settled after a Lizzo entity, the dancers, Broadwalk Productions, and others signed a confidential agreement the following month in February after one of Lizzo’s dancers hired an attorney. The agreement allowed for her former employees to be paid to release their rights to the footage.

“Lizzo had nothing to do with it and knew nothing about it,” said the singer’s attorney, Martin Singer. The 14 women are not involved in the recent lawsuit filed against the Grammy-winning vocalist last month.

Related: Filmmaker Details Lizzo’s ‘Abuse of Power’ After Former Backup Dancers Accuse Singer of Fat-Shaming and Sexual Harassment

A producer of the documentary initially contacted dancer Latasha Bryant with an offer of $350 plus a 10 percent agency fee for Lizzo’s dancers in the film. In a separate email, that person stated that they would only use “30-45 seconds of the performance scene.”

“In addition to the extra exposure, we wanted to take care of you all with our limited budget because your stories are so important to be told, and we would love to have you be part of it.”

Not believing the deal was fair, Bryant reached out to Smiles for help in gaining compensation. He served as an advocate in the payment dispute, which ended with each lady receiving between $7,092 and $7,545 for their specific role, dancing and whether they sang, reaching a total payout of $109,551.

Singer also claims the three performers who did sue Lizzo continued working for her after detailing several incidents of the pop star harassing and fat-shaming them in the lawsuit.

Arianna Davis, Crystal Williams and Noelle Rodriguez performed with the well-known body-positive ambassador after competing on her reality show “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” in 2021. The three women claim they were berated and pressured into participating in sexually denigrating behavior during an Amsterdam trip.

Their attorneys, Ron Zambrano and Neama Rahmani, allege that they only continued working with Lizzo after the alleged incidents because they wanted to keep their jobs.

The dancers were once accused of drinking during practice after one woman soiled herself onstage. Another was allegedly left crying after being asked to participate in a nude photo shoot.

According to the lawsuit., “…privately she weight-shames her dancers and demeans them in ways that are not only illegal but absolutely demoralizing.” It also states, “This experience foreshadowed the sexually charged and uncomfortable environment Lizzo’s employees would be forced to endure.”

The “About Damn Time” singer also is accused of hurling racial slurs at her former employees and her dance captain, Shirlene Quigley, is accused of attempting to convert the dancers to Christianity.

In a statement on social media, Lizzo denied all of the allegations in the “sensationalized stories” that painted her as a “villain.” She said she had to make “hard decisions,” in reference to Williams and Davis being fired and Rodriguez leaving on her own free will after admitting to their “inappropriate and unprofessional” behavior on tour. Fans, as well as a few of Lizzo’s current dancers, since have disputed those claims.

Lizzo now intends to countersue after a resurfaced photo shows her and her dancers “happily carousing” and “gleefully reveling” at a cabaret show with topless dancers, despite claims that she pressured them to perform sexual acts in Amsterdam.

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