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'Dance Moms' Alum Maddie Ziegler Blames 'Bratty Persona' On Show Producers

Home / Entertainment / 'Dance Moms' Alum Maddie Ziegler Blames 'Bratty Persona' On Show Producers

By Kay on June 30, 2023 at 10:00 PM EDT

Maddie Ziegleris opening up about the negative impact Abby Lee Miller and Dance Moms had on her mental health.

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Maddie Ziegler Was Encouraged To Be Hateful

Maddie Ziegler at Craig apos s for a Friends Birthday

The dancer confessed to Emily Ratajkowski this week that life on Dance Moms wasn't great for her because she was Miller's favorite. She was coached and encouraged to treat others poorly, mostly by production.

On Monday's High Low with EmRata podcast episode, the 20-year-old wanted to reverse how people see her. "Last year, I had a terrible panic attack, and I called my mom, and things were coming up from the past, and she apologized to me," she confessed to the model.

"She said, 'I'm so sorry I put you through that.' It's sad because she would never want to hurt us, but none of us knew how crazy it would get."

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She recalled a moment that stuck out to her when the producer took her aside, without her mom around, and told her that she needed to act like a "brat." The "bratty persona" was desperately needed at that time.

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Maddie Ziegler Felt Used

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The actress says that at 7, she didn't know what to do. "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 felt pressured and had no protection from the grown men surrounding her.

"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.'" Ziegler followed their direction, and she was "perceived as a little brat in the first season," as they had hoped for.

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Watching It Was Hell For Maddie Ziegler

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She cried to her mother at how she appeared on the screen. "I remember we watched the first episode at a viewing party for the show's launch, and I just cried because I was like, 'Oh my gosh. Everyone thinks I'm this bitch, and I'm not. I'm seven!'"

The horrible experience did have a silver lining for the former reality star. "It was so weird. It helped me a lot to say, 'I can say no. I can stand up for myself.' But being so young, you don't realize all those things."

She also dropped the bombshell that being Miller's favorite and the "most well-treated dancer" had the opposite effect.

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"Looking back -- and a lot of people have started to say this -- it's like, 'Wow, she 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."

Abbey Lee Miller Didn't Want To Let Go

Abby Lee Miller out and about in New York City

The actress shared that it was horrible up to the last bit, where she tried to break free from Miller's and the production company's contract.

"[My mom] really did everything to try to break our contract and pull us out, and eventually did with the help of Sia," she goes on to call the singer her "guardian angel," pointing out that she "saved" her from the show.

The schedule had become too insane. "It was hard... We would do almost 30 episodes a season, so it consumed our lives."

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