Maddie Ziegler Says That She No Longer Speaks To Abby Lee Miller: "For The Longest Time, We Felt So Guilty"

by Ricardo Johnson

"The producer was telling me to say that. I don’t think I’m better than everyone else."

For context, Maddie was one of the original cast members of Dance Moms — when she was just 8 years old — and stayed with the show for six seasons until 2016.

Lifetime Television / Courtesy Everett Collection

"People thought I was a brat because in all my interviews, I would say, 'I’m the best. I know I’m going to win,'" Maddie, now 19, recalled. "But that’s because the producer was telling me to say that. I don’t think I’m better than everyone else."

Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images

"I was just doing whatever they told me to do because I thought that’s what you did. They set you up for failure."

"I had more stress at that age than I did once I left. I have dissociated so much from that time. I’ll see fans post scenes from Dance Moms and I’m like, 'I literally don’t even remember that happening,'" she continued — noting that while there were some good times, there were also many that were "really, really not great" for the children.

Lifetime

Maddie further said that she's had to unlearn a lot of what coach Abby Lee Miller taught her. "[I was taught that] to not win or to have another girl beat me was the end of the world. My dance teacher taught that if you don’t get the trophy, if you don’t get the crown, you are less than, which is the worst way to train a kid. It carries into other life lessons," she continued.

Ultimately, Maddie says that she and her family tried to leave for her last three seasons — but she was unable to, due to her contract. "I was the most loyal girl there; I just wanted to dance. And I loved competing until it became televised and the drama started," she said.

Lifetime

As for Abby's "distraught" response to Maddie's departure, Maddie continued, "For the longest time, we felt so guilty. She trained me, she helped me, but also, I knew I would be okay without her and I was sick of being in a toxic environment. ... I haven’t spoken to her since."

Lifetime

Another impact Maddie said the show had on her was the effect of going through puberty in the public eye. "I started developing boobs and I got my period and my body started changing, and people were like, 'Oh, she’s gaining weight. She’s getting fat,'" she said. "People have said that I am pregnant before."

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"They hold you to this version, this idea that they’ve built up in their head of who they think I am. And then anything outside of that idea is really hard for them to comprehend. Sometimes I’ll have moms come up to me and they’re like, 'We still think you’re 8 years old.'"

Emma Mcintyre / Getty Images

As for now, Maddie says her focus is acting — such as her recent roles in West Side Story and The Fallout.

Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection

You can read the full interview here.

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