Welcome to MADDIE ZIEGLER’s world. SBJCT partnered with Chanel to feature this extraordinary young force who from a childhood touring with Sia to MUSIC has had the entire world watching. Maddie spoke with EW about her latest project, The Fallout, finding catharsis her art, and using self expression to heal.
How old were you when you started dancing? And what led to Dance Moms? Can you explain to our readers who may not be familiar the principle of the show and your role in it?
I was two years old when I started dancing. I started at a ballet school, and by the age of four I transferred to a competition studio. When I was about seven years old, we had a production company come to the studio and interview and audition some families. My family got cast and ended up doing six seasons. We basically just learned new dances every week and competed with them every weekend. It was a fast-paced environment, and had lots of drama.
You and your sister did the show together- tell me about the dynamics of being in competition together, and maintaining your relationship and nurturing it within these structures…
It’s interesting how it worked growing up filming with my sister. I couldn’t imagine doing it without her, but at the same time we fought like crazy! Our relationship didn’t start to become incredible until after we left the show. We would always butt heads because we were so consumed by one another. Also, during her entire experience on the show, people were constantly comparing her to me, which truly breaks my heart. We are two different people. Neither of us is better than the other. She’s my best friend, and I love seeing her mature into the beautiful girl she is today.
How did it come about that you started to collaborate with Sia? How old were you when you started?
I was 11 years old when Sia reached out on Twitter asking me to be in her music video. She was actually a huge fan of Dance Moms and saw lots of potential in me. I’m so grateful that I was introduced to her world of art and creativity.
Describe to us the process of working with a superstar in this way- what did it look like, from working at a young age on music videos and touring? Walk us through what you would do and what it entailed?
I would say my experience was very unique. Sia is the furthest thing from a pop star in terms of how she acts. She created such an amazing family around us, so we felt safe. Filming those music videos was life-changing for me. And the fact that I had the opportunity to go on tour by the age of 13 is mind-blowing. With each performance, I learned more and more, and having the energy of the audience screaming the song lyrics was pretty special.
Without the normalcy from the people that I love, I don’t think that I would be who I am today.
How did you stay tethered during this time, when you were away from your family and still growing as a person? I am so taken by how grounded and conscious you are- is this something you were conscious of harnessing and maintaining growing up?
Obviously as you’re growing up and becoming a teenager, you go through things with your family. Honestly, I was just trying to figure out myself. But my friends and family accepted me for who I am during everything I’ve been through in my life so far. Without the normalcy from the people that I love, I don’t think that I would be who I am today. I’m forever grateful for them.
Tell me about your next film The Fallout- what’s the premise and what can we expect?
The Fallout is about the aftermath of a school shooting. For me, this movie is truly about healing. One of my biggest takeaways from being part of this film is that everyone copes with trauma differently. And all ways are valid.
I want to talk about the power of a platform. You have an enormous following and many many eyes on you and the art and work that you put out into the world. How do YOU like to use your platform? What do you think is your responsibility as an artist?
First of all, I can’t believe that so many people look up to me. It’s an honor. But of course, lots of pressure and responsibility comes with that. For me, I use social media as a place to share my creativity and my beliefs. I want to educate people as much as I can, and speak up on topics that are genuinely important to me. And I think the coolest part about it is that I’m still learning every day, so we’re all in this together.
How do you nourish yourself creatively?
Finding a balance is key. A balance between keeping my body moving and active, but always learning to let my body rest and heal.
What and who inspires you these days in terms of pushing your boundaries and evolving as an artist?
My boyfriend Eddie inspires me more than anyone. He pushes the boundaries musically and taps into another world. He evolves every day not only as an artist, but as a human, and that pushes me daily.
Tell me about your experience during this year of pandemic living? What have your days been looking like? Anything about this you hope to take with you? What can you not wait to change?
It’s been a whirlwind, but I can’t complain. I’m back to working again and I couldn’t be more grateful. The biggest takeaway from the pandemic was learning patience. Not rushing from one thing to another but being thankful for each day and each experience. One thing I want more than anything is human connection! To hug people again will be a dream come true haha.
What grounds you physically?
My family. My dog. Getting a good snuggle from them resets me.
What keeps you emotionally centered?
Listening to music that moves me. The feeling of music going through my entire body is unexplainable.
Where do you feel most happy?
When I’m on stage dancing.
What should we be watching?
The Billie Eilish documentary. She’s a force, and I’m constantly inspired by her heart and vision.
What should we be reading?
‘Like a Love Story’. It’s set in New York City in 1989 during the AIDS / ACT UP crises! The history, the references, the self-discovery. It’s beautiful.
Tell me some body alignment and recharging tips that we must know from your dancer background.
Yoga is something I’ve started to introduce into my life, and nothing gets you more aligned than that. Also, it’s vital for dancers to be getting massaged constantly. We put our bodies through a lot, so we must treat them as nicely as possible.
I can’t wait to continue growing and learning.
Do you keep things in the way of 5 year and 10 year plans?
I set goals aside for the future, but for the most part, I live life day by day. I’m too young to be worrying about what’s gonna happen in the next 5 to 10 years. I’m grateful for where I am now, and I can’t wait to continue growing and learning.
Any charities or causes that you love to support that you would love us to bring attention to?
My family and I work with My Friend’s Place. They support the homeless youth in LA. My Friend’s Place offers a comprehensive continuum of services to nearly 1,200 youth experiencing homelessness between the ages of 12 and 25, and their children, each year, helping our young people who are experiencing homelessness to move toward wellness, stability and self-sufficiency.
Anything in the way of a mantra that you live by?
Everything happens for a reason. I find comfort in that saying.
What’s your SBJCT Maddie? What really motivates you and drives you?
Self-expression. Whether it be dance, acting, painting, make up. I love expressing my feelings through any art form.
Everything happens for a reason.