'Dance Moms': Abby Lee Miller on the big move to L.A. and those 'bitterly jealous' mothers
The Abby Lee Dance Company troupe is headed to Los Angeles for the summer as Abby Lee Miller starts up a new branch of ALDC. But as the second part of Season 5 begins, Abby isn’t so sure about how her Pittsburgh girls will do in a city of that caliber.
“I don’t think it’s good for the show, actually,” Miller tells EW. “I think it’s going to be a wake-up call for the show. I think there’s going to be much more talented kids that walk in this building than that are on the show. The kids that walk in this building are going to have a lot more money, a lot more influence, a lot more connections than a bunch of little girls from Pittsburgh whose parents knew nothing and nobody.”
While there’s no telling what’s actually going to happen, it’s safe to assume one thing: a bigger city probably means bigger drama. Miller—who says she could care less about the drama—called up EW to discuss the big move, Maddie’s blast to stardom and what fans might see in the rest of the season.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can fans expect to see in the new season?
ABBY LEE MILLER: They’re going to think that Abby’s batshit crazy. They’re going to think that I’ve lost my mind, but I haven’t. If you don’t see me on the show, it’s for very good reason. You’re [also] going to see the same old pathetic costumes behind me in every interview, because I have kicked and screamed and temper tantrumed my way to the network and they’re afraid of change. I think that a hot guy with a surfboard walking behind me would be much better. And I think you’re going to see more of the kids, maybe winning the Kids’ Choice Award.
How was it winning the Kids’ Choice Award, by the way?
Winning the Kids’ Choice Award finally caused people to wake up and take notice, even though we’re not a kids’ show and we’re not a children’s network. But we’ve managed to change a housewives show into a dance show for kids, and that’s okay. We won the reality TV award for the ensemble/recurring cast, and I won for the Best Villain. I don’t know why I’m a villain—I’m getting all these kids on TV. But hey, I’ll take it.
Why did you want to move to L.A.?
I did not want to move the show to L.A. I wanted to come to L.A. for my own life, to do my things, to do other things, to work with other companies and maybe consult, maybe be an editor for a dance film and tell them what should be in and what shouldn’t be in because I don’t get any of that say on our show.
But you’re keeping the Pittsburgh studio too, right?
Absolutely. My dad and mom used their savings to buy the land, I mortgaged myself to death to build the building. That’s my home, I built that place. The blood that permeates through the floor, the sweat that’s embedded in the walls that will never come out. Those are the kids that are now on Broadway. I’ve had kids in 17 Broadway shows that were raised at that studio. It’s a landmark. I’m never going to get rid of it. Ever.
Are you bringing any of your Pittsburgh staff to L.A.?
I’m not bringing my staff from there to here, but I have my own professional dancers that are here. I have one in a VH1 show Hit the Floor, who works with choreographer Michael Rooney. I have a kid that did Kanye’s last tour and a guy that works for a huge dance competition. So I have my own people that were born and raised in Pittsburgh and that I raised [at ALDC]. That’s why I feel confident leaving here to go shoot and do whatever I need to do and I know that the place is in good hands.
Will the show be filmed in both locations? How will that work?
That’s being worked out now. Because the moms have other children and their families and their husbands in Pittsburgh, I’m sure we’re going to film in Pittsburgh as well.
Is there anything you hope happens in this season or what you’re most looking forward to with it?
I hope the girls continue to train and I hope that the fans realize that they’re children and they grow up. As you grow your body changes, your mind changes, and your values shouldn’t change. You should remain loyal and faithful to the people that got you to the position you’re in right now. Let’s just say, you don’t step on people on the way up because you might need them again on the way back down.
What is it like to see Maddie have so much success since the show began?
I think I knew that from the get-go with Maddie, and I think that’s what drove the story for the first two seasons of Dance Moms. Before the show started, before anyone from Hollywood ever came to Pittsburgh, there were a bunch of women, they were all jealous of one little kid named Maddie. And every single piece of drama came out of that. It was all because those mothers were so bitterly jealous of some little kid. They couldn’t just say, “Well my kid sucks, all right, let’s move on.” Or “maybe my kid’s just not the best dancer here, but it’s okay because it’s teaching her other things.” They couldn’t do that because they’re a mess. So they did what they did, the show became a hit, and the more bitter they became, the better Maddie got.
Are the girls jealous of her?
I don’t think the girls are jealous at all. They look up to people and respect people for their talent. They admire their work ethic, and they say, “Wow, Maddie was in the same class as me.” They look in the mirror and they see that she’s getting it and they’re not. They’re in the trenches working with her so they get it. The moms, they say, “Oh, she’s the favorite.” Really… really? You’re lying to yourself.
Do you feel like the drama on the show accurately portrays what happens in the studio?
I stopped watching the show. Not because of the drama; I could care less about that. Just the dance edits. I think it’s absolutely asinine to try to edit a show with dancing without a dancing consultant. That’s one issue. The other issue is, I have to just be what I am. I am what I am. You like me or you don’t like me. It’s not going to change me. And if they edit it somehow that wasn’t true, what am I going to do? Get on social media and say, “That’s not the way it happened!”? I could do that every single week, but that would take time and energy and I’d rather take that time and energy and do something positive with it. None of it’s fake—it’s all real. So, it is what it is.
Did you ever think that Dance Moms would become what it has?
Never. I dreamed, but I never thought it would actually happen. Think of how many children dance because of our show. How many kids have gone to their local dance studio and signed up for lessons because they want to be like the kids on TV. That, to me, is worth all the drama in the world.
Why do you think it appeals to so many people?
I think the kids dancing appeals to everyone. Whether you’re old or young or male or female, [you wonder] how do those kids learn that that fast? I’ve had celebrities say to me that they sit on the edge of their sofa biting their nails when it’s time for the awards and jump around their living room because we won. Like the Superbowl—your favorite team just won, a thousand bucks betting on it. Ooh, that’s interesting! I wonder if there’s bookies out there taking bets on if we win or not.