Maddie Ziegler Opens Up About the ‘Toxic Environment’ She Was Exposed to While on ‘Dance Moms’ 

Maddie Ziegler recently appeared on Emily Ratajkowski’s High Low with EmRata podcast and opened up about her childhood – more specifically, her time on Dance Moms between 2011 and 2016. She was just 8 years old when she starred in the Lifetime reality show and remained on the show until she was 13. 

Now 20 years old, Ziegler doesn’t have the fondest memories of her time on Dance Moms and has been open in the past about the ‘toxic environment’ she was exposed to as a cast member. It’s something her mother has acknowledged and even apologized for recently – though Ziegler doesn’t blame her for it. 

“Last year, (I) was having a really bad panic attack and I called my mom and things were coming up from the past and she apologized to me and she was like, ‘I’m so sorry that I put you through that,’” she said. “It’s so sad because it’s like, she would never want to hurt us but none of us knew how crazy it would get.”

RELATED: Former ‘Dance Moms’ Star Slams Abby Lee Miller Calling It ‘Toxic’

While she doesn’t blame her mother for the bad memories, Maddie Ziegler did call out the producers for telling her how to act and what to say while filming. Since her mother wasn’t in the room, she complied with their orders – even though they made her out to look like ‘a little brat’ in the show’s first season. 

She didn’t realize how damaging it was to her reputation until she watched the premiere of the first season. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh everyone thinks I’m this b***h and I’m not. I’m 7,'” she explained to Emily Ratajkowski. It’s not how she wanted to be portrayed, but it taught her a valuable lesson about saying no.

“It was so weird. It helped me a lot to be able to be like, ‘I can say no. I can stand up for myself.’ But being so young you don’t realize all those things,” she said. As a result of the toxicity, Maddie has blocked out a lot of her childhood and says there’s a lot about her younger years that she simply doesn’t remember. 

Of course, she doesn’t have to remember it because it was all documented on the show. In fact, there are times when she scrolls through TikTok and comes across something from her childhood that she doesn’t recall. “I’ll see people posting things of me and I’m like, ‘I don’t even remember doing that,’” she said.

Maddie Ziegler Reveals the Turning Point in Her Career

When Maddie Ziegler was 11 years old, she started to appear in numerous music videos by Sia – including the music video for ‘Chandelier’ (in 2014) and ‘Elastic Heart’ (in 2015), which have totaled a combined four billion views over the past decade. She calls this the turning point in her young career. 

Appearing in the music videos helped her discover her love for acting. She was already acting in the videos and had been portraying roles with her dancing, so she felt it was only right that she take that next step forward in her career. And that’s exactly what she has done over the past eight years of her life.

Between 2015 and 2020, she starred in Lucky Thirteen (2015), Ballerina (2016), The Book of Henry (2017), and To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You (2020). 2021 was a big year for her, starring in three films – Music, The Fallout, and West Side Story – before earning her first lead role in Bloody Hell (2022).

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Sia Reveals She Saved Maddie Ziegler From Boarding Plane With Harvey Weinstein

As far as her mindset these days, she has learned to let go of her perfectionist attitude – which consumed her during her childhood. “It’s an ongoing battle cuz I like some of the traits that I had when I was little cuz I was so determined and I was so strong-headed about everything,” she said on High Low with EmRata.

About Mamas Uncut

Mamas Uncut is THE online place for moms. We cover the latest about motherhood, parenting, and entertainment as well – all with a mom-focused twist. So if you're looking for parenting advice from real parents, we have plenty of it, all for moms from moms, and also experts. Because, at the end of the day, our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for in one safe space.

Scroll to Top