Lizzo on becoming famous: My anxiety & depression didn’t go away

Lizzo has a new Amazon reality series called Lizzo’s Watch Out for Big Grrrls. The show came about from Lizzo wanting to hire some backup dancers and resulted in a chance for Lizzo to inspire and encourage a group of women having a hard time getting recognition. The series premieres March 25 and Lizzo gave Variety a full-length interview to promote it. The photo shoot is To. Die. For. The interview was just as good. It was both fun, as Lizzo usually is, as well as tender and honest.

Lizzo talked about growing up in a body size that was constantly the butt of people’s jokes, wondering how she would ever be accepted. She said she channeled that into her new series, deciding it would be “a place of positivity,” which means her contestants won’t be criticized and in some cases, waived eliminations. How refreshing. I’m sure she will prepare her Big Grrrls (what she calls her backup dancers) on the realities of fame as well. Because Lizzo admitted to Variety that she struggled with fame in ways she didn’t expect. She said one thing people don’t seem to grasp is that you don’t change when you become famous, the way people see you does. And all the baggage you brought into fame stays with you.

On Fame: Fame happens to you, and it’s more of an observation of you. People become famous, and it’s like — my DNA didn’t change. Nothing changed about me. My anxiety didn’t go away. My depression didn’t go away. The things that I love didn’t go away. I’m still myself. But the way y’all look at me and perceive me has changed. It’s a very weird, kind of formless thing.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful. It was sad, and I had to talk to my therapist about the loss of who I was. Most famous people have been famous just as long as they’ve been a person, so they have acclimated more to it. I was going into dive bars and getting shitfaced in 2018. And nobody knew who I was, and nobody was bothering me. By 2019, I noticed I couldn’t go to restaurants with my dancers and stuff.

I had to call security, and they had to call a car, and we had to sit and wait. And I was like, “Damn. I’m just a burden to my friends, and things are different now.” It bummed me out, because you do lose a sense of your privacy and yourself, the old self. I’m good with it now. I’m fine. I’m young. I’m talented. I deserve the attention.

On her Instagram Live breakdown: It was not planned. That day, “Rumors” had come out, and I saw something really awful about me. I never want to address the thing that broke me, because people will continue to use it. It had nothing to do with the song. The song was very successful. It was something about me and who I am as an artist and what I represent. And it was very fucking racist and very, very harmful.

It kind of pushed me to my limit. I went to the set, and I was pretty sad. I was sitting in glam, and I was getting my makeup done. And I was crying. I was like, “Sorry, I got to go to the bathroom.” I went on Instagram Live. I wanted to address the internet. I started talking about it — say you don’t like my music, cool. Say you don’t like my video, cool. But when you talk about me and my character and who I am, I’m coming for your ass.

I used to hold in my emotions so much it was like a ticking time bomb. I said what I had to say, and I honestly felt better. I got to walk into this room of women who looked like me and who would understand exactly what I’m going through, and I got to play the song and be in that moment with them. It genuinely moved me to tears. It was one of those things that happened in my life that was a blessing.

[From Variety]

The breakdown Lizzo had on Instagram Live happened after the release of Rumors. I thought it played into what she said about not changing who she was after she become famous. Celebrities make an unwritten pact that they will get criticism for their work even if it seems unfair. But whatever was said at that time attacked who she was as a person and, as she said, it broke her. I’m not famous but I understand what Lizzo is saying. People always say money and fame won’t fix everything and those of us who don’t have it think, “well it won’t hurt.” But in some ways, it adds new problems. Because people don’t allow famous people like Lizzo to have bad days, or get hurt feelings. It’s like she should be grateful for her fame and that’s it. Which is only going to make her anxiety and depression worse. It broke my heart when she saw herself as a burden to her friends. I’m sure they don’t see her as such. They just need to create a new normal.

Lizzo also told a nice story about meeting Melissa McCarthy after she’d lost the Ursula role to her. Lizzo really wanted that role and would have been amazing in it. However, she was gracious when she met Melissa and they ended up bonding. It began over names, because Lizzo’s real name is Melissa Viviane and Melissa McCarthy’s oldest daughter’s name is Vivian. It wasn’t a huge deal, but I thought it was sweet.

Photo credit Instagram and Avalon Red

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9 Responses to “Lizzo on becoming famous: My anxiety & depression didn’t go away”

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  1. Colby says:

    Money doesn’t suddenly be prevent you from having feelings. It just means you get to cry in a nicer house. It baffles me how many people don’t get that or just don’t care about someone’s feelings if they’re famous/rich.

    People are so so cruel online for absolutely no reason. It’s such a sad commentary on our society.

    • Otaku fairy says:

      It really is. There’s a type that loves scream constantly to everyone about how anti-attention-seeker they are, and how everyone *but* them has gotten too desperate for validation. But most of that screaming is just a justification for the abuse that entertains and sustains them online. They secretly like attention. Their need for a “Politically Incorrect” world where they go unchecked is constantly warring with their need to make sure their cruelty is the center of attention in online spaces. This is why their reaction to being told that they’re the asshole or hearing anything about why their behavior is harmful is to come up with more delusional bs about how they’re the ones being persecuted by overly modern ‘snowflakes’ (the people *they* always accuse of playing the victim).

  2. M says:

    I’ve been a fan of Lizzo since she showed up on Letterman in 2014. She’s super talented. I would have thought her as Ursula was a no brainer, but of course racism is alive and well. I won’t be seeing that movie anyway. Live action remakes hold no interest for me.

    • SophieJara says:

      Thank you M! I don’t think I understood exactly what sexy was when the little mermaid came out, but Ursula is sexy! And mean. But definitely not goofy. I feel like they’re going to butcher this.

  3. Ohcomeon says:

    She is so real. Nothing has or will change that. Fame doesn’t add anything to life. It doesn’t make you feel more loved. It just steals your privacy makes you a target for cowards. People who don’t live in that space will never understand how hard it becomes. God bless this shining light.

  4. betsyh says:

    The Variety cover shot is stunning!

  5. jferber says:

    I love her cosplaying the 1920’s and 1960’s in the first and last picture. She really is hella talented. Because she is an artist, she is also very sensitive and vulnerable. I wish she could develop “armor” like teachers do at the beginning of their careers (I had to do that and it isn’t easy). The Latin expression (which I’d have to look up) is “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” It’s still true. P.S. She’s absolutely stunning in that light green dress.

  6. HeyKay says:

    So interesting to me that people still have the theory that if you are successful in your job and/or have extra money equals some picture perfect life.
    Everyone has problems at one time or another.
    Real life is not a Disney fairytale!

    • Otaku fairy says:

      Yeah. There are times and reasons why it’s necessary to point out privilege. But sometimes people try to disguise punching down as punching up.
      I also like that she made it clear that she’s been in therapy for a while but still talks about things like racism. A lot of people (especially the right, but not just them) have some backward ideas about what therapy is supposed to do.