Arianna Davis and Crystal Williams, two of the former back-up dancers who have accused Lizzo of creating a hostile work environment and sexual harassment in a lawsuit, have opened up about their alleged experiences working with the superstar in a new interview.
The two dancers detailed instances described in the lawsuit – including allegedly being pressured to touch a nude performer at a strip club in Amsterdam’s red light district – during an interview with CBS News.
Davis, Williams, and former back-up dancer Noelle Rodriguez made headlines after filing the lawsuit against Lizzo, her touring company Big Grrrl Big Touring Inc., and dance captain Shirlene Quigley.
Davis claimed Lizzo, 35, urged her to touch the nude stripper and got the whole club to chant her name before she finally gave in, despite her reluctance to do so.
‘It’s an understanding in the camp that if you don’t really participate and try to get in with Lizzo, you won’t be booked on as many jobs. She won’t like you as much. You’ll be ostracized later,’ Davis told CBS.
Davis claimed both she and fellow plaintiff Rodriguez were reluctant to attend the show, but went anyways and stayed in the corner, away from the stage.
However, Davis alleges she was ‘singled out’ by Lizzo to touch the dancer.
‘She was kind of going around, inviting people to touch the nude performers. And I guess it was my turn,’ Davis claimed.
Davis claimed Lizzo began chanting her name after her previous attempts to get her to touch the dancer failed. ‘She was like, “Oh Ari, it’s your turn to do it.” And I was like, “No, I’m okay.” She was like, “No, come on, do it.” I said no again and she said, “Ari! Ari!” And then everyone in the club kind of joins in, they’re like, “Ari! Ari!” So of course I had to do it because I couldn’t get out of that situation.’
‘So I briefly, you know, touched and everyone started laughing. It was funny to them because me of all people — they see me as like a very modest or, you know, that kind of person.’
‘I was mortified,’ she said. ‘I even remember trying to cope with how awkward I felt by making a joke about the lotion that the nude performer was wearing…. I tried to laugh it off, and unfortunately I left soon after that with Noelle.’
Lizzo, who has embraced being a body positive icon, has also been accused of body shaming the dancers.
Davis recalled an alleged instance where Lizzo subtly communicated concerns she had gained weight.
‘I believe she was trying to allude to the fact that I was gaining weight in a way that she wouldn’t get canceled, if that makes sense,’ she said.
‘It was not a like, “you’re fat, you’re fired.” It was never “you’re gaining too much weight,” it was never blatant, it was very nuanced.’