Rapper and singer Lizzo walked a long, tough road to the success she is known for today. Lizzo's music can now be heard in movies and TV commercials, but she fought for every inch of her ubiquitous fame. Scroll down for a timeline of the "Juice" singer's trip to the top.
It is hard to say when Lizzo went mainstream, but she hit a number of benchmarks any performer would be happy with in 2019 — from releasing hit records to playing massive shows to starring in blockbuster movies. She also appeared on Saturday Night Live and was named the TIME Entertainer of the Year. Lizzo is known for spreading positivity, so she often highlights these triumphs without giving much energy to the long struggles it took to reach them.
Lizzo fans are elated to see her reaching these new heights, especially after the rocky few weeks she has had in the press. Lizzo has come under fire a few times since reaching the A-list, such as the time she wore a revealing outfit to an NBA game, where some critics noted there were children present.
However, Lizzo's thoughtful, body-positive message sparked a deeper conversation around the topic. Many fans and writers pushed back on the issue, arguing that thinner celebrities have worn equally revealing outfits to events like NBA games without getting nearly as much backlash. The whole ordeal perfectly encapsulated how Lizzo pushes boundaries, and what she is up against with her platform.
Here is what you need to know about Lizzo to understand her rise to fame.
Lizzo was born Melissa Viviane Jefferson in Detroit, Michigan. She was a musician from an early age, including both hip hop and classical music.
Her family moved from Michigan to Houston, Texas when she was young, and attended the University of Houston. There, she studied classical music with a focus on the flute. Her father passed away when she was 21 years old, and she began making serious attempts to break into the music industry.prevnext
Lizzo moved from Houston to Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2011, and began working with other indie groups on music that fused classical, hip hop, soul, pop and electro stylings. She In 2018, she told a Minneapolis news outlet that she lived out of her car for almost a year in those days.
She performed in various groups, including Lizzo & The Larva Ink and The Chalice, but she released her first solo hip hop album, Lizzobangers, in October of 2013. The album got national attention, but did not quite catapult Lizzo into the mainstream.prevnext
Lizzo kept at it after this album, putting her blood sweat and tears into her music. She made four music videos from Lizzobangers, and performed "Bus Passes and Happy Meals" on The David Letterman Show.
Her second studio album, Big Grrrl, Small World, was released in 2015. It was number 17 on Spin's list of the 50 best hip-hop albums of 2015, and was a critical success.prevnext
Lizzo pushed through another threshhold of fame in 2016, with the confluence of several big successes. She was hired by MTV to host the short-lived series Wonderland, making her that much more familiar to viewers. At the same time, she released her EP Coconut Oil, which contained songs that re still some of her most memorable hits today, such as "Good As Hell."
That song was featured on the soundtrack for the movie Babershop: The Next Cut, and earned Lizzo the reputation she has now for making empowering, anthemic songs.
All this notoriety got Lizzo a number of TV appearances, good press and opportunities. She released her third studio album, Cuz I Love You, in April of 2019 on Atlantic Records. She also performed at Coachella, which finally got her recognition for her overwhelming stage presence.prevnext
As her music finally hit new heights this year, Lizzo also reached new milestones on te screen too. In addition to her many TV cameos and appearances, she did a voice role in the animated children's movie UglyDolls, and a live-action role in the crime dramedy Hustlers, alongside Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B.
Meanwhile, Lizzo's music was becoming a must-have for commercials, TV shows and movie soundtracks. Her song "Truth Hurts" was featured in the Netflix movie Someone Great, and she recorded a cover of "Stayin' Alive" for the soundtrack of Happy Death Day 2U. On TV, her music has appeared in shows like Grown-ish, Black-ish, Insecure, The Bold Type and Broad City.prevnext
Lizzo is also praised for advancing a nuanced, inclusive conversation about LGBTQ rights and representation. In a 2018 interview with Teen Vogue, she identified herself with the LGBTQ community, but declined to categorize her gender or her sexuality.
"I personally don't ascribe to just one thing... That's why the colors for LGBTQ+ are a rainbow! Because there's a spectrum and right now we try to keep it black and white. That's just not working for me," she said.
Lizzo was given an honor by Queerty in June, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The outlet named her one of the Pride50 "trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people."prevnext
Finally, Lizzo is credited with advancing the conversation around body-positivity in the media and in other aspects of life more than perhaps anything else in her career. The singer has produced some incredible anthems of self-love, and works hard to promote inclusivity of all body types in her work and in the industry at large.
Lizzo was a part of ModCloth's "Say It Louder" campaign in 2018, and later modeled FIT's plus-size clothing on the Future of Fashion runway show at an LGBTQ event called Pride Island.0comments
Perhaps most importantly, Lizzo engages directly with her fans at every possible occasion, signing on to Instagram Live and other public forums to speak candidly, share her experience and sometimes advise fans on their own struggles. She is clearly just getting started as a pop cultural icon, and SNL is another big step in the road.
Lizzo's appearance on SNL with host Eddie Murphy begins at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.prev