The Amazon Prime Video series consists of a group of plus size dancer's hoping to perform with the Grammy winning artist, Lizzo, on stage at the 2021 Bonnaroo Music Festival. Not only does the show follow the journey of the 10 dancers, but it also highlights topics such as body positivity and self love.
Photo by James Clark for Amazon Studios
Before the series aired, Disrupshion Magazine interviewed some of the cast members. The dancers that we had the opportunity to speak with was Jasmine Morrison, Ashley Williams, Moesha Perez, Jayla Sullivan, and Charity Holloway. We discussed their views on body positivity as well as where their passion for dance came from.
Photo by James Clark for Amazon Studios
Where did your passion for dancing come from?
“I’m a 90s baby, I was born in 1990 and my passion for dance really comes from music because my parents were in the music industry, my dad was on tour with Def Jam, my mom had her song in a movie. So when you’re exemplifying, like following your dreams, your children are gonna do the same thing. And so I thought I was gonna be a singer and I did for a little but my mom was like ‘You should try out dance, I think you’d be really good’, and my first dance class I was like ‘That’s it, I’m gonna do this forever’ so it really just grew from there, from really music and my parents.”
“My experience is a little bit different, because I just kind of grew into my passion, I’m in the realm of growing into a passion for dance right now in this moment. My mom gave me the option to dance, I was figure skating and she said, ‘Do you wanna dance?’ and I said ‘Sure’. So I got the option to dance and I was in classes because my mom put me there. And then when I couldn’t take those classes, I had a high school option and so we went there, but I didn’t know that it was something I need to do like it actually brings me so much joy and happiness and I can’t live without it. So now I’m growing into the passion and I kind of needed that ok from God like this is what you’re gifted in. So yeah, I’m growing into my passion for loving dance. ”
“I started out as a gymnast and then they forced us to take ballet class for doing floor and vault and that kind of stuff to help with balance. It made more sense doing movement to music as was being so strict and regimented where you were repeating and repeating in complete utter silence. So from there, I started tap and jazz and then I just went right into a competition team and just spearheaded and kept going and going. And then it ignited a huge passion for me, then I kind of fell out of love with dance because I felt dance didn’t love me as much as I loved it. And then going through this journey definitely reignited that fire and that love that I had when I was younger for it.”
“I feel like my experience with dance has changed because I was dancing since I was 2 but after I broke my ankle, it changed for me to love it more; but for me personally my whole family dances believe it or not. So I was always surrounded by music and I was always surrounded by dance, I was always singing, I was always doing something in the performing arts and being creative. That was something normal to me and I was always in activities as in dance classes and choir. So being surrounded by dancers as a whole and as a family, it just made me realize that I could do this forever because that’s what I love, we always have fun, it’s always a party because we love dance.”
“I’m an 80s baby so I would try to mimic MC Hammer like doing the videos and all that stuff so I grew up like that just really watching like Janet Jackson and trying to learn her choreography, Aaliyah like all of them, that was me and I think that it comes from a love of music ; so like when I hear music I think of movements like the bass and all of the different instruments that come together and in my head I see movements and dances to it so I think that my love for dance really grew from my love of music and its just basically been increasing more and more each year. And similar to what some of these ladies have said you know I did have a moment where I did kind of lose my love for dance because I was trying to please other people like I lost the fun in it because I was trying to compete and be like everybody else like I didn’t feel good about what I was doing so I was being hard on myself about not being a trained dancer and I lost that fun but I think that now I’m on the other side of that and I’m starting to enjoy dance again but also still wanting to grow, you can love dance and still want to grow and become a better dancer but you don’t have to apply that pressure on yourself and continue to compare yourself to other people. ”
What does body positivity mean to you and how do you think the show advocates for it?
“I think that the show advocates for it because it shows all different sizes under the plus size umbrella that you could be a size 12 and be considered plus size and you could be a size 22 and be considered plus size. So you have all different shapes that are going on and being represented in the show and celebrated, and what it means to me is the fact that my body is valid, my body deserves to take up space, along with somebody that could be a size 2, that could be a size 8, or even a size 12 that would be considered plus-sized to some people and then plus-sized to others like our bodies should all be seen as valued regardless of what they look like.”
“I would say body positivity for me means that regardless of where you’re at in life you wanna make sure that you’re loving yourself and it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be positive the entire time because it’s a journey. So it’s what works for you, but in that time when you’re doing your self-care and your body positivity, you have to really block out the negativity that’s trying to come into the way. So body positivity is not all highs there are lows. You hear positive you always have to hear I’m doing this, that, and the third; but in order for you to be happy you have to have your lows. You have to see yourself in a way that you don’t like to be seen. You have to be raw with yourself, you have to be negative sometimes, you do, because in order for you to do that, it’s gonna build you up so you can know that that’s not how you wanna think, you don’t wanna be negative, you want to love yourself whole. You wanna be there for you. So it’s definitely a journey but you have to put the effort in to continue on with it because it’s not an easy process, you have to be consistent with it. Body positivity means something different to everyone, how I interpret it, is not how you will interpret it, but that’s okay because we’re 2 different people. So it’s really what matters to you and how you express yourself with that.”
“I think body positivity for me was definitely a growing thing especially putting on jeans and not feeling comfortable with my fupa showing. And body positivity actually became kind of sexual for me, I kind of was like in the mirror looking at myself naked with a little candle here or there and a little rose petal, a little bubble bath, and you know kind of feeling on myself and getting in tune with her and she and figuring out what she likes. That’s kind of how mine started, where it stems from, and it’s just like Moe mentioned, it’s an up and down thing and I think as long as you constantly work towards loving those imperfections you’ll show up as a better person. When you feel good about your body and feel good about how you look, it’s like you walk in so confident and poise and ready for people to see you’re ready to take on the world. It’s really beautiful so body positivity is important especially in our big girl community.”
What are some of your experiences with working beside Lizzo, how has that been for you?
Jasmine “Lizzo reminds me to have fun like through filming the whole show like whenever she was around us it was fun and giggles and it was also work, but she just reminded us to be yourself and have a good ass time while you’re doing this because the world is already at us like just live in who you are. You know, I had an experience with her that taught me to never dim my light, she really really brought that out of me and I really appreciate her for that.”
“I think you guys really said it all so well, I think Lizzo has a way with people, I think that she can see 2 people and know what they need like I felt like when I talked to Lizzo, she was ministering directly to my soul and she knew the issues that I was dealing with internally and she tried to help me through that like you know by giving me affirmations to say, by telling me to believe in myself a little more, and to just be a great leader and showing how to be more confident in who I am as an individual. So she radiates positivity even in her moments too like she’s a human, you know she’s not always bubbles and champagne, but I think that she’s real, she wants people to understand her and understand body positivity and confidence is a journey. So I just soak that all in from her and just her light and how hard she works. I think that is something that I will always carry with me, it inspires me to be a better person and performer so she really is amazing.”
These ladies were a joy to speak with and are truly inspiring. Make sure to tune into the show, you can stream exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.