Lizzo Talks ‘Big Grrrls’, Harry Styles and a Secret Scripted Project

Three-time Grammy winner Lizzo is entering a new awards campaign, but this time she’s a TV star.

In March, the reality competition series “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” debuted on Amazon Prime Video. The project, now an Emmys reality race contender, was the first out of Lizzo’s first deal with Amazon Studios, and follows the singer as she puts 13 plus-size dancers through a series of camp challenges. practice in hopes of preparing them to join her on tour.

“Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” sets itself apart from other competition series right from the start. Rather than focusing solely on dance training, Lizzo provides candidates with opportunities for personal enrichment with trained professionals in disciplines such as sensual movement and photography. And she takes no joy in eliminating the girls from the process. Instead of regular elimination trials, she seeks to take as many people as possible with her on tour and promises a few of the girls who don’t make the tour that if they keep working on it, they’ll get another shot. to dance with her.

“I never really felt worthy of any accolades or awards. My dream with music wasn’t to win a million dollars and win a Grammy,” she says, reflecting on her Emmys campaign. It was like, ‘I want to write a song that the whole world sings back to me.’ [With] “Watch out for the fat Grrrls”, I wanted to change the lives of the girls on my show, and my own life, and the lives of people who watched it. So many people watched and ostensibly decided to talk to each other better. Listen and love your body. This is the greatest reward one could hope for. »

Lizzo spoke to Variety on performing with the Big Grrrls on ‘Saturday Night Live’, singing with Harry Styles and what to expect for his Amazon deal

How did you develop the format of this series? Why did you give up on a more structured system to send people home?

If we sent someone home every episode, I wouldn’t have any dancers. Above all, the reality is that the door has been closed in the face of these women. They heard the word “no” much more than “yes”. I didn’t want to bring them to LA, move them to a mansion and treat them the way the world treated them. That was not the goal.

I had no intention of changing the paradigm of competitive reality TV, but I certainly didn’t want to do it the way it’s always been done. I wanted to imagine a world where we can help people prepare for life instead of tearing them down and humiliating them. This is how I want all television to be. This is how I want life to be. Encourage me! Prepare me! You don’t have to say yes all the time, but show me how to do it.

What was it like having an open casting process?

The casting was really tough, because the people who auditioned really, really wanted it. We are talking about an untapped market here, a well of extremely talented beautiful women with stories worth sharing. Urgency siphoned them through the process. With the 13 girls, there was a feeling of, “This person needs this story shared now, because it’s going to connect with so many people.” The beauty is that you’d assume that because they’re big dancing girls their story would be the same, but that’s not the case. There were so many nuances and depth.

As soon as I got the green light to do the show, I was going to TikTok to find raw talent. We actually have a few girls from TikTok. I think it was important for people to see that we’re not going to talent agencies and hiring actors. They are real people.

How did SZA (aka Solána Imani Rowe) end up coming to see the girls perform and giving them feedback as a guest?

SZA is a good friend of mine. I was telling her about the show and she said “I want to be on it!” I was like, “Say less.” It wasn’t like we needed a celebrity on the show; it was because of his genuine excitement and desire to be there. She moved so much around her schedule just to make it work.

By this point in the competition, these girls had been through a lot. Seeing Solána there was such a pick-me-up — and sort of, a second audition. I am not stingy. What I really want is for these girls to have successful careers, whether it’s with me or anyone else. Whether we do a season 2 or I do a completely different show, [I’m] thinking about how we can shake up the industry by connecting these girls with as many artists as possible. SZA, just based on seeing them once, was like, “I really like him, and I really like him!” It was cool to be able to expose these girls who otherwise might never have been represented to get into an audition room and have a chance to dance for SZA.

They are so grateful for every moment. They are excited and that energy comes to life on stage. At “SNL,” all four girls were from the show “Big Grrrls.” I wasn’t trying to make a point – I sincerely wanted them. I wanted Asia [Banks] and crystal [Williams], who are in the music video for “About Damn Time”. And Sydney [Bell] and Charity [Holloway] just been dancing lately. Even though they weren’t on the tour’s TV show, they’ve stepped it up so much over the past few months that I was like, “Call them.”

It was really special to see you keep your promise to continue watching over them even though they weren’t chosen to be on your tour.

What’s crazy is I didn’t even think about this TV show when I booked them [for “SNL”]. We did an activation at SXSW. The show ended in August and SXSW is in March. There was so much time in between. And Charity danced so well. You could tell a fire was lit beneath her. This girl was just dancing her ass off, and I was like, “I gotta dance with her again.” All my friends were like, “Damn, she’s shaking that ass!” It just drew you to her. It made you want her around you.

And Sydney is such a star. My biggest issue with Sydney at the time was that I wanted her to prioritize herself. I’ve had issues in the past where dancers get hurt, and I have to make sure they’re safe, and then I also have to bring someone to Paris at the last minute and teach them the whole set . It’s a huge responsibility. I wanted her to be aware of the seriousness of this. She really did the job, and she dances so well too. You can’t deny the dance, honey.

After that happened, people were like, “Oh my god, you kept your promise! You’re alone!” I think to myself, damn, I didn’t even think about it. They kept their promise to themselves. I’m so proud.

Speaking of live performances, let’s talk about your surprise appearance while filming Harry Styles at Coachella in April. When do you enter the studio together?

I don’t know — I didn’t even know I was doing Coachella! He’s so good at what he does, and he’s just the nicest person. Everything is possible. If I fit into his plan, honey, I’m here.

What’s next for your first deal with Amazon Studios?

In fact, I filmed something which is a dream. I woke up this morning thinking about it. I can’t wait for it to come out. I can’t talk about it, but I’m so excited.

Can you tell if this is a scripted project or not?

It’s scripted. I have so many ideas. “Watch Out for the Big Grrrls” was a show I had an idea for years and years ago when I first signed on with my management in 2018. So I got more of it at the bank. It’s just time. We have to make sure the time is right and we can make it happen, because I have big ideas, honey. There’s nothing small about me.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

About Sherri Flowers

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