(The Hill) — Lizzo is speaking out for the first time after a lawsuit by three of her former dancers accused her of creating a “hostile, abusive work environment,” saying that she’s “not the villain that people and the media” have portrayed her to be.
“As an artist I have always been passionate about what I do,” Lizzo, who was born Melissa Jefferson, said in a Thursday Instagram post. “I take my music and my performances seriously because at the end of the day I only want to put out the best art that represents me and my fans.”
“With passion comes hard work and high standards,” the 35-year-old “2 Be Loved” singer added. “Sometimes I have to make hard decisions but it’s never my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable or like they aren’t valued as an important part of the team.”
She argued that she is “not here to be looked at as a victim.”
“I also know that I am not the villain that people and the media have portrayed me to be these last few days,” the Grammy Award winner continued. “I am very open with my sexuality and expressing myself but I cannot accept or allow people to use that openness to make me out to be something I am not.”
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, a group of three dancers claimed they were “exposed to an overtly sexual atmosphere that permeated their workplace” while on a concert tour with Lizzo.
Dancers Arianna Davis, Noelle Rodriguez and Crystal Williams alleged that Lizzo pressured them into participating in a “severely uncomfortable” nude photo shoot, forced them into a “sexually charged and uncomfortable environment” with nude performers at a nightclub in Amsterdam and required them to undergo a “brutal” 12-hour audition in order to keep their jobs.
The lawsuit also claimed that the artist, who is known for promoting body positivity, made remarks to one dancer that were “thinly veiled concerns” about her weight gain.
In her response to the lawsuit, 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.”
“I’m hurt but I will not let the good work I’ve done in the world be overshadowed by this,” she added. “I want to thank everyone who has reached out in support to lift me up during this difficult time.”