“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,” Maddie, 20, shared while appearing on the Tuesday, June 27, episode of Emily Ratajkowski’s “HighLow With EmRata” podcast. “She was like, ‘I’m so sorry I put you through that.’”
The dancer went on to say that the moment was “so sad” because Melissa, 55, “never [wanted] to hurt us, but none of us knew how crazy it would get.”
Melissa, Maddie and her sister, Mackenzie Ziegler, made their reality TV debut during season 1 of Dances Moms in 2011. At the time, the girls were competitively dancing at the Abby Lee Dance Company (ALDC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Zieglers remained on the show until season 6 in 2016.
While talking to Emily, 32, Maddie recalled one negative experience that took place when they were filming season 1.
“When I was doing the show, in the first season I was seven, there were male producers saying, ‘This is what you have to say,'” she recalled. “My mom wasn’t in the room, so I was like, ‘OK, I just have to do whatever I’m being told.’ They would say, ‘Say you’re the best, say you’re better than everyone else, say blah blah blah.'”
She noted that the directions led viewers to perceive her “as a little brat.”
“I remember we watched the first episode at a viewing party for the launch of the show, and I just cried because I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. Everyone thinks I’m this b–h and I’m not. I’m seven!'” Maddie said. “It was so weird. It helped me a lot to be able to be like, ‘I can say now. I can stand up for myself.’ But being so young, you don’t realize all those things.”
While Maddie was depicted as coach Abby Lee Miller’s favorite dancer on the show, she told the My Body author that wasn’t actually the case.
“Looking back – and a lot of people have started to say this – it’s like, ‘Wow, she actually had the most pressure on her,’ because she was like, ‘You’re my girl, so you have to lead everyone to victory every time,’ which is just not sustainable,” the Fallout actress said while seemingly referring to Abby, 57.
Maddie then shared that Melissa tried to get out of the show’s contract when it became too much for her and Mackenzie, 19.
“[My mom] really did everything to try to break our contract and pull us out, and eventually did with the help of Sia,” she said of her frequent collaborator. “It was hard … We would do almost 30 episodes a season, so it consumed our lives.”
After acknowledging that she’s been working from a young age, Maddie admitted she’s “blocked out so much of my childhood that I actually don’t know what my life was like even just before working.”
“It’s weird to find out things that I did when I was younger on TikTok,” she continued. “I’ll see people posting things of me, and I’m like, ‘I don’t even remember doing that.'”
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