Maddie Ziegler on Dance Moms, New Movie Fitting In & Embracing Hollywood


Fitting In was Ziegler’s first time leading a production and being number one on the call sheet. It required long, strenuous days, but she didn’t mind — in fact, she hopes it will become the norm in her career. Her competitive nature favors challenge, which made Fitting In feel all the more special. “If I were tired or stressed [on set], I’d say, ‘No worries, no worries,’ and our makeup artist would say, ‘Worries, worries,’” she recalls with a laugh. “When you’re in those moments, sometimes you have to make light of it. I think I sarcastically approach stress with, ‘Oh, I’m not worried at all,’ and it actually does help me through it.”

And those long days were worth it. Whether it was how held she felt filming the more intimate parts of this movie or how, after its release, she was able to google showtimes at her favorite theater in Los Angeles, Fitting In felt like the beginning of a new chapter in Ziegler’s life. “Lindy will live with me through my life and through the other roles that I take on,” she says. “I am a very harsh critic toward myself, and it’s hard to be proud, but the first time I watched [Fitting In], I was like, Wow! I did things that I didn’t know I was capable of, and I’m proud, which is rare. I don’t usually say that.”

As with the character of Lindy, dance will never leave Ziegler. She admits it’s still such a huge part of her world, something she never wants to stop pursuing. But she’s mindful of not falling into the dancer-typecasting trap; sure Ziegler can dance, but that doesn’t mean she needs to dance to tell an impactful story.

Now with a second feature film under her belt and a third on the way, Ziegler is focused on building longevity. She’s also focused on separating the girl we once knew from the woman she has become. Still, she’d be doing herself a disservice if she disregarded how having her youth on display played a role in bringing her here today.

“Obviously, I have my feelings about that [show], but if I didn’t do it, I would not be where I am right now at all,” Ziegler says. “I wouldn’t have been found by Sia. I wouldn’t have found my love for acting through music videos, and I wouldn’t be where I am, literally, right now talking to you.”

There are days when an air of malaise surrounds Ziegler, reminding her of the harm a child went through on national television. There are days when everything and nothing at all feels worth defending. It goes with the territory of being a child-star-turned-adult-actor. What is for show and what isn’t? Do emotions still feel sacred after you’ve had your fears, anxieties, and breakdowns hyper-edited into weekly 42-minute episodes?

Acting has been a way for Ziegler to take her power back. When thinking about her career aspirations, she is open to everything. “I look at Margot Robbie and at Reese Witherspoon’s production company,” she says. “They’re so incredible, and I’m very inspired by that, to have my own production company one day.”

Women-led sets are all that Ziegler has experienced so far in her young career, and she wants to continue to see that push in the broader industry as she expands to other areas of being on the big screen. Beyond that, Ziegler wants to play a female assassin in a film, à la Scarlett Johansson in the 2014 film Lucy. Ziegler knows her years of dance could be a great asset for a physical role like that, which would mean a chance to do her own stunts. “I don’t know what my life would be like without working,” she says, “but I love it so much and I don’t want to stop.”

And she isn’t stopping. Ziegler’s upcoming project, My Old Ass, started filming shortly after Fitting In wrapped. The feature film, starring Aubrey Plaza as the older version of main character Elliot Labrant and directed by Megan Park, was bought by Amazon MGM for $15 million after its 2024 Sundance Film Festival premiere in January. Ziegler’s character is one of Elliott Labrant’s, the younger version played by Maisy Stella, best friends; Ziegler joined the cast only two weeks before they began filming.

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Tags: dance moms, maddie ziegler, new hollywood, young hollywood

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