‘Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil’ SXSW Q&A Highlights

March 17, 2021 by

360°Sound tuned in to the Q&A following the SXSW premiere of the YouTube original docuseries Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil. In a Q&A moderated by Variety‘s Jenelle Riley, Lovato, director and executive producer Michael D. Ratner, and Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s Global Head of Original Content, discussed the new doc exploring the traumas that led to the 28-year-old pop star’s almost fatal overdose in 2018. Lovato suffered three strokes and a heart attack. The docuseries premieres on YouTube on Tuesday, March 23 at 3 p.m. EST.

Here are some highlights from the Q&A:

On why Demi Lovato decided to share her story…

Lovato: “I knew that the moment I woke up in the hospital that I wanted to share my story and set the record straight. There were so many stories floating around when I was in the hospital about what had happened. People didn’t get the full story and see how bad it was. In order to show my fans how far I’ve come I wanted to show them the full truth. As painful and as uncomfortable as it was at times, I think it’s going to benefit so many people. I’m really grateful that I survived, and I definitely feel like I have a purpose.”

On working with Lovato…

Michael D. Ratner: “She’s such a genuine person, and she really wants to help so many people. The willingness to use her story and her experience, the very thought of that was so exciting to me. I really just wanted to create the platform for her to tell her truth, and I feel like we pulled it off.”

On the approach of the docuseries…

Ratner: “‘Dancing with the Devil’ is about a moment and peeling back how we got there, and we needed Demi to be all in to tell every piece of that. Ultimately, it was this collision course to this moment in time. I think when you create a story that is centered around one moment but ultimately unpack why we got there, and you have someone who is willing to do the work themselves to identify the traumas and do the self-work to ultimately allow herself to share it with the world to then help others and say, ‘It’s OK not to be OK.’ And it’s OK to talk about these things. That’s what’s made this so special.”

On being so open and honest…

Lovato: “I surprised myself when talking about how this path hasn’t been squeaky clean, how 2018 wasn’t the end all be all of that journey. I didn’t expect to be that honest on camera. I knew I was going to talk about 2018 and 2020, but I didn’t know how honest I was going to be with 2019. I think I surprised myself and my friends. The main point behind this docuseries is, Yes, I’ve done a lot of work on myself, but luckily, I had the courage to come clean so that I could hold myself accountable. This journey is ever-evolving. I’m not claiming to be fixed and be the poster child for recovery. I don’t want to take that one. But I will say is this path that I have taken has helped me so much, and I want to share everything with the world so that hopefully it can help others as well.”

On her reaction to watching the first episode…

Lovato: “[Ratner and I] watched the first episode together. I’m seeing the footage from my Rock in Rio performance, the life that I was living before covid, and I started crying. I miss my fans. I think after watching the whole episode I had a bit of a physical reaction, shaking, breathing heavily, because this is so emotional for me, so moving, and I was terrified, to be honest. Even watching it back knowing the world was going to see this I was terrified. The trailer came out and the outpouring of love and support from my fans has been so remarkable and moving.”

On what she’d like people to take away…

Lovato: “What I want people to take away from this docuseries is you don’t have to conform to what other people want you to be. You can choose your life. You can set it up the way that you want to. With the right people around you, you can thrive. And you aren’t your lowest moments.”

more SXSW 2021 coverage:

SXSW Artist Spotlight: Ley Line

Witch Prophet on “Tesfay” in SXSW Music Video Competition

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