Six months before three dancers sued Lizzo for sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment, 14 other dancers who worked with the singer received a separate settlement in connection to her 2022 documentary Love, Lizzo, the Los Angeles Times reports.
At issue was a five-minute clip from the HBO Max documentary featuring intimate footage that the dancers claim was used without their knowledge or consent, per the report. In January, the dancers’ manager, Slay Smiles, brought the dispute to an attorney for co-producer Boardwalk Pictures (Lizzo was also a producer), saying that the dancers had not consented to the filming — where they discussed how misogyny, weight-shaming, and racism affected them— nor were they compensated.
Smiles said the doc had “truly exploited these women and violated the emotional safety they had in those moments.”
The footage was captured in 2019 during rehearsals for the MTV Video Music Awards. Though the dancers were under a union contract for the VMAs, they claimed they were not given a contract for the non-union filming of behind-the-scenes footage included in the documentary. Alan Brunswick, an attorney for Boardwalk Pictures, told The Times that all the filming “was captured openly” and with their consent. “They all knew the cameras were there. I don’t think the documentary was even contemplated at that point,” he said.
The dancers were not informed that the documentary would include the behind-the-scenes footage until a clearance producer emailed each dancer to offer $350 plus a 10 percent agency fee to appear in the doc, sources close to the dancers told The Times.
Smiles said she served as a mediator and advocated for the dancers to help garner a settlement totaling $109,551, which paid out between $7,092 and $7,545 to each dancer. In February, Boardwalk Pictures, a “Lizzo entity,” Live Nation Productions, Warner Music Group Productions, and others signed the settlement agreements with each dancer. It included a nondisparagement and confidentiality clause barring the dancers from discussing the settlement with third parties.
The 14 dancers who settled the Love, Lizzo dispute were not involved in the lawsuit filed earlier this month, where three dancers accuse defendants Lizzo, her production company, and dance captain Shirlene Quigley of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. The dancers claim that Lizzo, who has emphasized body positivity throughout her career, brought up one of the dancer’s weight gain. The dancer claims she was berated and fired after recording a meeting due to a health condition, per the suit.
The suit also accuses Quigley, the captain of Lizzo’s dance team, of trying to convert them to their religion, calling her alleged behavior “unceasing” while also chastising them for having premarital sex, alongside accusing Quigley of making other sexually inappropriate comments and behavior.
Other accusations alleged in the suit are religious and racial harassment, false imprisonment, and interference with prospective economic advantage, among other claims; not all of the claims were against each defendant.
During a stop in Amsterdam in February 2023, two of the plaintiffs were allegedly invited to a night out in the Red Light District, where they, along with Lizzo, went to a strip club. There, the suit claims the group pressured Davis in attendance to touch one of the dancer’s breasts against her will.
Lizzo denied the allegations, responding in part: “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,” Lizzo said. “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.”
From Rolling Stone US