Maddie Ziegler came to fame as one of the breakout stars on “Dance Moms,” and continued her meteoric rise as Sia’s alter ego in the music videos for “Chandelier,” “Elastic Heart” and “The Greatest.” Now, she’s taking her talents to bookshelves as the author of The Maddie Diaries, and her first feature film is due later this year.
We chatted with Maddie about her dance career, her foray into acting and what it was really like being on “Dance Moms.”
You first came to fame on “Dance Moms.” How did you deal with being in the spotlight at such a young age?
I felt a lot of pressure because I was just a girl from Pittsburgh. Being only 8 years old and [getting] introduced into the world of TV was kind of stressful and weird. I never imagined I would be on TV. When people started coming up to me and asking for pictures, I was like, “This is so creepy! How do they know me? How do they know my name?”
What’s your favorite piece of advice you’ve ever gotten from a dance instructor?
When you’re around other dancers or you’re at a dance competition, make sure you always stay humble and set a good example for younger dancers who look up to you.
You’re obviously an incredibly talented dancer. How often do you practice?
I used to dance for six or seven hours every day. When I go home to visit, I take class Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for five hours. When I’m in L.A., there’s a bunch of open classes. During the week I’ll take an open class every day. It’s super fun ― I love taking classes.
Sia handpicked you to be the dancer in her music videos. How did that come to be?
Sia was a fan of “Dance Moms” and she wanted to reach out to me. So she tweeted at me and said, “Hey, I would love for you to be in my music video.” I didn’t really understand the whole thing because I didn’t really know who Sia was at first. I was only 11 years old. Two weeks later, I flew to LA and did the video. I literally thought that maybe only my friends and family would see it, but nobody else. I did not think it would be something big. Then it blew up! Now there’s over a billion views.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about Sia?
Sia’s the funniest and goofiest person I’ve met in my entire life. Her laugh is so incredible and we can hear her laughing when she’s five rooms over. She’s so giggly. And she loves dogs. She puts on such a serious act in front of people, but she really is the giggliest person.
You were in the “Elastic Heart” music video alongside Shia LaBeouf. What was it like working with him?
He’s a crazy person, but I do love him a lot. I learned a lot from him. We had a really good experience together. I learned a lot of tricks from him, just watching him as an actor, which is cool. He was such a great person to work with.
Let’s talk about your new book, The Maddie Diaries. In it, you talk about important lessons you learned in your career. What’s one piece of wisdom you’ll never forget?
There are so many things I’ve learned throughout my career! One thing that stuck with me is what Sia told me: Make sure you’re never overworked and make sure you love what you’re doing. Also, to remember that I’m just a kid. I feel like a lot of people sometimes forget that I’m a kid, and I do want some normalcy in my life.
You’re also working on a trilogy of fictional novels for a younger audience. What can you tell us about the storyline?
It’s about dancers, which I’m so excited about. I don’t know how much I can say, but I’m really excited for people to see it. The illustrations are so cute and I really love it. I just saw the book cover and it’s so amazing. I think a lot of little girls will love it.
You have quite the devoted fan base. What’s the craziest thing a fan has ever done for you?
Of course they do it out of love, but a lot of girls make me really crazy presents. When I go to Australia, they always bring me all kinds of Australian candy and load me up on chocolate and candy. People also have seen online that I love Sour Patch Kids, so they’ll bring me Sour Patch Kids. They also know that I love Zac Efron, so they made me a full collage of Zac Efron on a blanket.
You’ve danced with your sister Mackenzie for most of your life. Do you see more sisterly collaborations in the future?
Maybe! We’ve danced together our whole lives, and now that we left the show, we kind of went off and did our own things. Of course we’re both focused on dance, but I’ve been focusing on acting a lot, and she’s been focusing mainly on music. Maybe in the future we’ll do a little dance video together or something!
You’ve guest-starred on shows like “Pretty Little Liars” and “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn.” Your movie “The Book of Henry” comes out in June. Do you plan to do more acting?
I love acting and I want it to be a big focus for me. I don’t want it to be a one-time thing. But dancing will always come before acting. It’s my No. 1 passion and I wouldn’t be anywhere without it.
What was it like being a judge for “So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation”?
That was a really, really cool experience for me. I’m so used to being the one judged, so the fact that I was the one judging was really crazy. I learned so much from Nigel, Paula and Jason. I had such a good time, and all of those kids were so incredible and I enjoyed watching them every week. Every elimination, I would cry, because it was so sad to see them go.
You and Millie Bobby Brown are really close friends. How did you two meet?
Millie actually was a really big “Dance Moms” fan, and she came to one of the tapings of “So You Think You Can Dance.” Afterwards, she came back to my dressing room. We clicked right away. We became good friends the first time we met ― she was the sweetest person. And then I watched “Stranger Things” and I DM’ed her on Twitter and I was like, “You’re so amazing.” From there we started hanging out. And now she’s one of my best friends.
What’s a typical hangout for you guys?
When she’s in LA, I usually go over to her hotel and we’ll go swimming. We’ll go shopping, we love to eat. We just have a really good time together. She always tries to mimic my dancing, which is hilarious. I have several videos on my phone of her dancing and she always does the entrance and exit like you would in a competition. It’s so funny!
Name one celebrity who isn’t Sia that you would love to dance for.
Who is your celebrity crush?
What was the hardest dance move for you to master?
Of all the Sia choreography you’ve done, which is your favorite?
At the moment, “The Greatest.”
What’s one thing you love to do when you’re not dancing or acting?
Painting, and doing my makeup and hair.
What’s one beauty product you cannot live without?
What’s your guilty pleasure snack?
The little chocolate chip muffins, “Little Bites.”
What social media app are you most addicted to?
Snapchat stories or Instagram stories?
Name one celebrity who genuinely left you starstruck.