Lizzo's SXSW Keynote Speech Was a Lesson on Representation and Human Rights

Lizzo didn't waste a single moment during her SXSW keynote address on Sunday. She graced the stage at the Austin Convention Center to promote her forthcoming Prime Video series, "Lizzo's Watch Out for the Big Grrrls," but talked about so much more. The hour-long session — moderated by "The Breakfast Club" cohost Angela Yee — was full of laughs, heartfelt moments, and some serious dialogue around topics that hit home for the artist.

". . . hopefully I can do my small part to speak for the people, represent, and just keep pushing."

The conversation around Lizzo's new reality show sparked a healthy and much-needed discussion about the obstacles curvy women encounter on a daily basis. Unlike other reality competition shows, Lizzo's goes against the traditional elimination format. "It was important that I change the narrative of what a reality competition TV show looks like," she shared at SXSW. "We don't always have to be cruel. We can be kind and we don't have to pit people against each other. I feel like it's hard enough in the dance world already for girls who look like me, so why would I create that environment in my space? If I have the power to change that, why not change that?"

A large part of Lizzo's career has revolved around the singer advocating for women who look like her, but she's also been a huge advocate for human rights, which is why she spoke out against Texas's controversial legislation and policy regarding abortion and trans youth. While she pointed the finger at lawmakers who have the power to make changes on a systemic level, Lizzo also called out some of her fellow artists who aren't willing to use their platform to challenge politics. "What we do, we're a conduit for the people," she said. ". . . we represent for the people and we put it on a platform . . . hopefully I can do my small part to speak for the people, represent, and just keep pushing."

Much of Lizzo's session focused on her personal mission to promote more big girl representation — which included a special self-love exercise to uplift the audience — but she also took advantage of her time to speak on her new album, what to expect from her Prime Video series, and the show's talented cast. Keep reading ahead for the biggest takeaways from Lizzo's SXSW keynote address.


  • Lizzo hopes her reality series will change the conversation around curvy women dancers: "Lizzo's Watch Out For the Big Grrrls" centers around the artist's search for backup dancers of all different sizes and backgrounds. During SXSW, Lizzo spoke on the significance of creating a new kind of dance competition show that we haven't seen before. "Ever since 2014, I've had open casting calls for dancers that look like me and it's been very difficult, especially the more I'm in the industry and we have these agency casting calls, I don't see me reflected in the dancers," she said. "Then one day I said, 'You know what, motherf*cker? If I got to get a TV show to bring some awareness to this, then pull up my sleeves and let's go.'" Her Prime Video series is a step in the right direction, but Lizzo believes we still have a long way to go in terms of real body representation. "Big girls have always had value, but I don't think society has seen the value in bigger bodies. And so what this show is doing, I wanted to lift these women up and show the world they're valuable, they're worthy, and they bring in money, baby. They bring in coins and duckets, so we need representation ASAP," she added.
  • Lizzo slammed Texas's "regressive" anti-trans and abortion laws: Yee gave Lizzo the floor to speak on some of Texas's new laws, and she didn't hold back. "I'm proud to rep Houston but I'm not proud to rep Texan politics right now," said Lizzo. "There are very regressive laws being passed . . . They're taking away the right for young children to have a chance to live authentically as themselves. It's a violation of human rights. Trans rights are human rights, period." She added: "We got a lot of other things y'all need to be handling instead of y'all being in people's homes, telling them what to do with their bodies . . . Mind your business. Because the abortion ban is atrocious as well . . . stay out of my body. This is not political."
  • Lizzo confirmed that her new album is done: After teasing new music, Lizzo finally gave the scoop on her forthcoming album. "I can finally tell everybody, as of, literally I'm flying back home today to master my album, it's done," she revealed. "It's done so it's coming very very soon . . . and it's good. I worked real hard on it, so it better be good." Lizzo also shared that snippets of her new music can be heard on episodes of "Lizzo's Watch Out For the Big Grrrls," though she remained tight-lipped about possible collaborations. However, she did promise that her album will be accompanied by a tour, in addition to "a lot of surprises."
  • Lizzo was intentional about developing a reality TV series that catered to Black women: "Lizzo's Watch Out For the Big Grrrls" is a labor of love that she developed with series director Nneka Onuorah. Lizzo made sure to give Onuorah her flowers at SXSW for handling the show, as well as its stars, with such care during filming. "It's so important to have a Black woman at the helm of the camera, on this entire series," said Lizzo. "I think it was just important to realize that this is a very Black show . . . and I'm proud of it. We wanted to make sure that we created an environment, especially on camera, that could be conducive to having Black people and not have a stereotype." Yee inquired about the possibility of the show getting a second season, which Lizzo left up in the air, saying, "I think the door is wide open and anything is possible."
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Watch Lizzo Talk About the State of Texas Politics at SXSW 2022

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Watch Lizzo Talk About Self-Love at SXSW 2022