AUSTIN, Texas — Global rap superstar Lizzo was one of the biggest names tapped for the South by Southwest (SXSW) interactive festival in 2022, which is shaping out to be an exciting year for the singer.
While there were no publicized plans of a live Lizzo performance at the festival – although she did perform at the last in-person SXSW in 2019 – she delivered a high-energy keynote address Sunday at the Austin Convention Center with moderator Angela Yee of iHeartMedia.
In addition to her keynote address, Lizzo also made an appearance at Amazon Prime's "Superheroes & Superstars" experience, where her new show "Watch Out for the Big Grrrls" was on display. The show, which premieres on March 25, follows Lizzo as she hunts for "dynamic, full-figured women" to join her on tour.
While the new show was the primary focus of her address – more on that later – one of the most exciting details to come out of the discussion was an update on her upcoming album.
"2022 ... what are some things that you plan to do?" asked Yee. "...I've been hearing some new music?"
"Oh, let me tell you something, y'all," Lizzo replied. "You're about to get the m-----f------ scoop, because a b---- been busy. I been busy! I can finally tell everybody ... I'm literally flying home today to master my album. It's done!"
After the room erupted in cheers, Lizzo explained that the new show will feature some previews of what's to come for the album.
"But what about some collaborations? Can you give any of those out," asked Yee, explaining that she knows SZA and Missy Elliott make appearances on the show. "I'm like, 'What does that mean for the album?'"
"Oh, my gosh. It means so much, girl. It means so much," said Lizzo before changing the subject. "It's cold outside today, huh?"
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So, back to the show.
"Let's talk about it, I mean, you executive produced your first project for Prime Video, so lets discuss why 'Watch Out for the Big Grrrls' was so important to you," said Yee.
"Well, this has been something that's been a passion of mine for years and years and years before I had a TV show. Like, I needed big girls more than I needed a television show," said Lizzo. "So, 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, you know, the dancers. And then one day I say, 'You know what ... I got to get a TV show to bring some awareness to this and pull up my sleeve.'"
Yee added that she was able to preview a few episodes, learning that it's not exactly an elimination type of competition show.
"I mean, if I sent everyone home, I wouldn't have dancers," Lizzo laughed. "...And it was also important that I change the narrative of what, like, a reality competition television show looks like. 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?"
She said throughout the experience, she was also able to open up and get vulnerable with her cast.
"Them being for me in that emotional moment ... I realized, you know, I need them as much as they need me," said Lizzo.
She said she hopes that after the series ends, they'll all stay "booked and blessed."
"I want them to shake up the industry, come in and shift the paradigm and be in demand and, you know, change the rules," said Lizzo. "And I think they're doing that already just by existing. And I'm so glad I found them and they found me."
Lizzo added that one of her cast members lives "authentically as herself" as a transgender woman, which is something that resonates with her, especially now, as a Texan and former Houston resident.
"I'm proud to rep Houston, but I'm not proud to rep Texan politics right now," said Lizzo. "And there are very regressive laws being passed ... they are taking away the right for young children to live authentically as themselves, and it's a violation of human rights. Trans rights are human rights. Period. ... 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 they body and being all up their uteruses. Mind your business! Because the abortion ban is atrocious as well."
While not all celebrities enjoy speaking about politics, she added that it's important for her to use her platform to show up as a "big, Black girl" and represent, because the journey has not always been easy.
"A lot of times I feel like I didn't really have anyone," said the star. "I felt very alone. And I think that's why it's like, 'Oh, her self-love.' It didn't come easy. It came from a sense of deep loneliness. And it's like, 'Well, if you're by yourself, make the best of it. Fall in love with yourself. Be inspired by yourself.' ... Once I did that, I was able to see all of these people around me who who've been giving me love my entire life. You know, I've been surrounded by strong women ever since I was a baby ... the big girls, I'm surrounded by strong women and they, you know, lift me up and they give me inspiration and they keep it real with me."
Lizzo is a three-time Grammy award winner. Collectively, her music has garnered over 6 billion global streams. Her single "Truth Hurts" also became the longest-running No. 1 by a solo female rap artist in history after spending seven weeks at the top of the charts. She was also named TIME Magazine and Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer of the Year in 2019.
Lizzo's keynote is expected to be released on demand on March 14 at 10 a.m.
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