Melissa Talks To Cosmo About What It’s Like To Raise Maddie June 15, 2016 Dance Moms, Interview, News Like all reality shows, Dance Moms follows a formula: there’s drama, mean girls, the HBIC, and the inevitable breakout. That breakout was Maddie Ziegler, whose star began to rise in earnest in 2014, when she appeared in the video for “Chandelier,” her first of three video collaborations with Sia, and later performed on Ellen and at the Grammys. Last month, she left Dance Moms after six seasons with the Abby Lee Dance Company in Pittsburgh. (Her younger sister, Mackenzie, and their mom, Melissa Gisoni, also left the show.) Now she’s a judge on the new season of So You Think You Can Dance with a role in the upcoming movie The Book of Henry and other acting projects in the works. And yet, she’s only 13 — which means Mom is still calling the shots. Here, Melissa shares what it’s been like to watch her daughter make it big, and how she plans to keep her kid humble in Hollywood. I never thought about Maddie being famous. I never wanted to be on TV and I never want to be on TV again. Our friend John Corella [a Dance Moms producer] is the one who pitched the show. He went around the country and casted for moms of dancers. We had to talk on tapes, kind of embellish a little and say, “Oh, my daughter is the best,” which is not something I’d normally say. Then we had to send in a bunch of dance videos. It was supposed to be a documentary for six weeks, of them just following the dancers and their moms. I didn’t think it was a reality show. I didn’t even know what a reality show was then. I never watched any. We were kind of pushed into the contract — like if you don’t sign today, you can’t be on the show. I was like, “Oh, OK. I’ll sign it. What’s the big deal?” So we signed a contract when it was called Just Dance. But then it morphed into Dance Moms and then [came] Abby Miller and all the craziness. Maddie thought it was so cool to have cameras following her, but she’s always been a very humble kid. The girls would get up early, at 7:30. They’d get to school at 8. Then they’d stay at school for 3.5 hours. They’d come to the set. The moms would meet them there, we’d eat lunch, and then they’d film until, like, 5 o’clock. Then after that, they went to dance class and didn’t get home until 10. But they were used to it. And they were with their best friends. All the girls are like sisters. Our home life didn’t change because we never watched the show. The only thing that was ever an issue was social media. The girls would be like, “Mom, people hate me.” And I’m like, “It’s not really people. It’s people without a face.” Kids like 12-year-olds who say mean things to you because they’re bored bullies — that was the hardest part of the fame. There’s so many fake accounts of my kids and people pretending to be them. I hired a social media manager almost immediately when my kids started to get popular. Starring in Sia’s “Chandelier” video was absolutely a turning point. Sia tweeted Maddie and said, “I want you in my music video.” So our publicist found it … two weeks later, Maddie did “Chandelier.” At that point, all she wanted to do was dance. Then when she did “Chandelier,” she loved the acting portion of it. She was like, “Mom, I really want to take acting classes.” I said, “Sure, no problem.” Now her fans aren’t just Dance Moms fans. They’re Sia fans and older people, people that are really artistic. A few weeks ago, Maddie performed with Sia in New York and I was out in the audience. It was really intimate, about 3,000 people. Sia came out as a surprise and she started singing. Then Maddie came out on stage. I bawled like a baby. The audience went nuts. And people were like, “Oh my god, you’re Maddie’s mom.” I’m crying because people were cheering for her. Sia and Maddie are literally best friends. They’re going to a wedding together in two weeks. They’re family now. Dance Moms was really a great platform for my kids, but they were pretty much done with it. It’s the same thing over and over, week after week. My kids told me they didn’t want to do it anymore. When my kids aren’t happy anymore, I don’t care about anything else. It was also holding the kids back. Maddie couldn’t do jobs because of her contract with Dance Moms. It was time to move on. She just did two movies — she did an animated movie and The Book of Henry. My kids are very happy. They miss the girls but they don’t miss the drama. For Maddie’s gigs, everything comes through me and then we decide as a team whether or not Maddie’s going to do the job or go audition. Maddie has an attorney, manager, and an agent. Her manager and agent call me and say, “Maddie was offered this.” And I’ll go to Maddie and say, “Hey, you were offered this. Are you interested?” Normally she’ll say, “Oh, yeah. That’s so cool.” She asks a lot of questions, which is great. Typically when she has meetings I go with her. But she holds herself pretty good. I really don’t say much. She’s a little adult in a 13-year-old body. I think she’s kind of like my mom. She’s always been an old soul. For instance, we were at the Grammys, and we were backstage with Madonna and Tony Bennett. And I was freaking out. She’s like, “Mom, calm down. They’re just people.” She babies her sister. She does Mackenzie’s hair every day. When Mackenzie has an audition, she’s like, “You gotta practice. No, you didn’t do it right.” She’s so beyond her years, and I think that’s going to give her such longevity in the business. And she has positive role models. Sia is such a role model to her. She said this to me the other day, “I don’t think I’ll ever drink alcohol,” or, “I will never, ever touch drugs,” because she has the people telling her it’s bad, don’t do it. Maddie’s dancing just as much as she did before, it’s still very important to her. She always finds time for it. So You Think You Can Dance is only filming twice a week, so she still has five days to dance. We have a dance studio in our house, we have a teacher that comes to our house. I never had to, even when she was a little girl, tell her to practice. We give her a really normal life outside of her job. When we’re home, she has to make the bed, she has to clean her room. She has to do her chores. I don’t do stuff for her. She has to be a normal kid. When we’re home, all the neighbors are over our house. Tonight she’s going to a Pittsburgh Pirate baseball game with the two neighbor girls. They’re so excited. They’re going out today to get new outfits to wear to the game. But after a couple days, she’s like, “Mom, I’m bored. Are we going to L.A. soon?” She wants to be in L.A. She’s an L.A. girl. The thing I worry about is that she’s 13, and she wants to go to the mall with her friends where we live. I’m OK with her doing that, but I still worry. I make her call me constantly. I drive her nuts. She gets mobbed a lot, so she really doesn’t enjoy going some places. She gets freaked out if there’s a man. That has happened. A man has followed her, but she’s always with somebody. She knows what to do. She goes right to security and she tells them. I’m more protective than I was before the fame. I watch her more. I always worry about men following her. As of yet, I haven’t gotten a bad feeling about a Hollywood bigwig. I’m sure that’ll be coming. It’s funny, Maddie loves watching the Chopped show. She’s become friends with the boy who won Chopped Jr. He was cooking for all these kids at his house. I was like, “I’m coming with you.” She was like, “Mom, you are not.” So I called the mom to make sure she was there. It was all good. That situation, I’m fine [with]. But Hollywood parties alone? No. Nope! No, no, no. [When she’s] 18, maybe. She went to a Jennifer Meyers jewelry private party, and Courteney Cox and big celebrities were there. I went with her. She likes when I’m there. She doesn’t like to hang out with me, but she likes when I’m in the vicinity. My big fear is her growing up too fast and not wanting to be with me. Literally, I’m just a mom from Pittsburgh. I was never a stage mom and my daughter always tells people that. I think a stage mom is someone that pushes their kids, makes them practice, everything has to be perfect. My kids did it on their own. All I did was drive them and pay the bills. There was a lot of sacrifice because you kind of give up your life. I don’t really have much of a life. When I come home, I go to lunch with my girlfriends. But I don’t have any regrets. I love seeing her on stage. I love seeing her do auditions and go on meetings. It’s pretty amazing when you go to a meeting with a 13-year-old, and everybody’s staring at her and listening to her and wanting to hear what she says. I would be content if it all went away tomorrow, but she wouldn’t. She wants to move to L.A. today. We were home for two weeks and she goes, “Mom, I’m going to move in with Sia. I can’t live here anymore. I need to live in L.A.” It’s just where she belongs. It’s really crazy because, I have to tell you, I feel like I belong there too. Cosmopolitan.com Dori Kleber I love the story of you guys every time I hear it. I think it is very inspiring. You started out as ordinary people doing something that was just what you loved and now Maddie and Mackenzie are both in the top 200 most famous people in the world (according to famousbirthdays.com). I think you guys are amazing and I would love to meet you some day. Megan I LOVE you Maddie and Mackenzie! alejandro I love you maddie ziegler❤❤❤ And mackenzie !!!!!! Alejandro1 Hello, I LOVE YOU maddie !!!❤❤ Crowther Amanda-Beth I sometimes wonder if Melissa hates Mackenzie.