Maddie Ziegler opened up about her time on Dance Moms and her complicated relationship with Abby Lee Miller in the cover story for Cosmopolitan‘s “The Fame Issue.” The 19-year-old recalled how Abby Lee, 56, was “distraught” when Maddie and her mom Melissa Gisoni quit the show in 2016. “For the longest time, we felt so guilty,” Maddie explained in the interview, published June 14. “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,” she added. “I was like, ‘This is not for me. I can’t do this.’ I haven’t spoken to her since.”
Maddie spent six full seasons starring on Dance Moms, though she was desperately trying to leave the show for half of that time. “My family and I really tried to leave for the last three seasons. But when you’re in a contract, it’s really hard. Eventually, I finally got out,” she told Cosmo. The talented dancer and actress also called herself “the most loyal girl” on Dance Moms until the drama became too much for her. “Don’t get me wrong—there’s drama regardless if there are cameras or not! But it was heightened,” Maddie said. “I started to feel like, ‘It’s so peaceful outside of this world. I can’t be in this.’ ”
Furthermore, Maddie confirmed that she’s never watched a single episode of Dance Moms. She also revealed that there was a lot of producer manipulation going on behind-the-scenes. “I was just doing whatever they told me to do because I thought that’s what you did. They set you up for failure,” she explained. “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.’ It’s weird because there were really amazing times, but there were also a lot of things that were really, really not great for us kids.”
Leaving Dance Moms was the right decision for Maddie, without a doubt. Her career boomed after appearing in several of Sia‘s music videos, including “Chandelier.” Maddie also modeled for Target and Ralph Lauren, and authored a dance-themed trilogy of books. She took up major acting roles in Sia’s directorial debut Music, and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of West Side Story. Maddie’s next film role will be in a coming-of-age “traumedy” with Emily Hampshire from Schitt’s Creek.