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Choreographer claims Justin Bieber underpaid her for work: 'Couldn't afford to eat'

Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
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Choreographer Emma Portner does not have fond memories of working with Justin Bieber.

Portner collaborated with the “Sorry” singer on multiple projects, including starring in his 2015 video for “Life Is Worth Living” and doing choreography for his 2016 Purpose World Tour, which he abruptly cancelled amid personal problems. She’s gone on to find success managing her own New York-based contemporary dance company, teaching around the world and continues to perform.

After Bieber slammed Taylor Swift as a show of support for his manager Scooter Braun, Portner — who’s also the wife of actress Ellen Page — took to her own social media page to say what it was like working with the singer and his manager. She said she has “regret” over it as the star and his team made “millions” off of content she created while she made “zilch.” The dancer said she “couldn’t afford to eat” and was “sweeping studio floors to be able to practice my craft.” She also slammed Bieber’s support of Hillsong Church, which has been called anti-LGBT.

Justin Bieber in Belgium during his Purpose World Tour in 2016. (Photo: Pieter-Jan Vanstockstraeten / Photonews via Getty Images)
Justin Bieber performing in Belgium in 2016 during his Purpose World Tour. (Photo: Pieter-Jan Vanstockstraeten / Photonews via Getty Images)

“I regret working under your name,” Portner wrote in her Instagram Stories. “I gave your universe my naive body, creativity, time and effort. Twice. For content you made millions off of. While I made zilch. Natta. Barely anything. Less than minimum wage for the hours I invested. I couldn’t afford to eat. I was sweeping studio floors to be able to practice my own craft. The way you degrade women is an abomination.”

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She went on to say that Bieber’s treatment of women is “an abomination” and called him out for continuing to collaborate with “overly problematic people,” alluding to Bieber appearing on Chris Brown’s new album.

The second part of Portner’s post talked mostly about his affliction with Hillsong, which Page has also spoken out about.

“You religiously go to a church that does not support the LBGTQ+ community,” she wrote then asked how he reconciles that with his handlers hiring “an out lesbian for your music video and to choreograph some content for your purpose world tour.”

Here’s Portner in Bieber’s “Life Is Worth Living” video, which was part of his Purpose: The Movement mini movie:

She continued, “A lesbian, HELPING YOU, for a disrespectful amount of money, as you attend a church that goes against my existence.”

The post ended by reminding him that he has “IMMENSE power” so he should “Use it to STOP DEGRADING WOMEN.”

Bieber hasn’t spoken directly about her post, but a “source” told Page Six that Bieber “wasn’t even privy” to what was going on with budgets. He and Braun served as co-executive producers on the video.

Portner’s comments come in the wake of Bieber slamming Swift for publicly lashing out against Braun for buying her former record label Big Machine Records — and as a result now owning the masters of her first six albums. (Swift said she and Braun had a long negative history.) In Bieber’s response, he said that Swift criticizing Braun would incite her fans to “bully Scooter.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 03: Ellen Page (L) and Emma Portner attend the "Tales of the City" New York premiere at The Metrograph on June 03, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/WireImage)
Emma Portner and her wife Ellen Page at the Tales of the City premiere on June 3, 2019. (Photo: Dia Dipasupil/WireImage)

However, after Portner spoke out against Bieber, his fans have been bullying her. On her various social media posts — none having anything to do with the “Baby” singer — there are nasty comments calling the dancer names.

Here are some calling her feminism “fake,” saying she’s “spreading lies” and calling her a “clout chaser” and “ungrateful”:

(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Ellen Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)

Though she’s also gotten praise for speaking out, including love from some Swift fans:

(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)
(Screenshot: Emma Portner via Instagram)

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