Abby Lee Miller apologizes after Dance Moms alums call her out for racist remarks
The story seems familiar at this point. A celebrity posts about the protests on social media, and then gets promptly called out for being a hypocrite.
It all started when Miller posted a now-deleted blackout square on Instagram for Blackout Tuesday this week, which many on social media observed to protest racism and police brutality, following the killing of George Floyd on May 25.
However, Smith blasted Miller's show of solidarity on Instagram, writing "#DONTACTLIKEYOUCARE" and "NOPE" over a screenshot of the dance coach's post.
"I couldn’t think of a more perfect day to address my experience with Abby Lee Miller," Smith captioned her post, which recounted her experiences with Miller.
"A statement from her that sticks in my mind to this day during my time on DMS8 is 'I know you grew up in the HOOD with only a box of 8 crayons, but I grew up in the Country Club with a box of 64 - don't be stupid," Smith wrote. "This to me shows that you think you are better than me and in higher rank and all together superior to ME! This to me shows that you don't give a f--- about me or where I came from."
Smith also accused Miller of using her daughter Kamryn as a token on season 8, which was released on Lifetime last year.
"Do you remember you told me, 'Do you want me to tell you why you are really here?' lol as if I didn't know," she continued. "Let me remind you what you said in case you forgot! You told me to 'LOOK in the MIRROR! That's the only reason you are here!' Kam told me she heard 'they needed a sprinkle of color!"
She also talked about what it was like having to address the situation for her last producer interview on the show.
"As tears streamed down my face I look over at my 7 year old and back at the camera and say, this is my EVERYDAY life as a black woman," she wrote. "This is nothing new to me. But what I'm not going to have happen is have this racist person have any part of my daughter's life as of this moment."
Due to Miller's behavior, Smith said she decided to pull her daughter out of the show, which upset Kamryn at the time.
"What I'm not going to have happen is have this racist person have any part of my daughters life as of this moment," Smith said. "I knew that it was more important for me to show my daughter that she has to stand up for what's right and not care about anything else. But in that interview my little 7 year old cried like a GROWN Black woman, and she stood up and said, 'Mom I understand and it's not right and I want to go home too.'"
Smith ended her statement by saying "people need to be held accountable not just for the injustices [but also] for being a closet racist."
Miller apologized to Smith and her daughter via Twitter on Thursday.
"I genuinely understand and deeply regret how my words have effected and hurt those around me in the past, particularly those in the Black community. To Kamryn, Adriana, and anyone else I've hurt, I am truly sorry," her statement read.
"I realize that racism can come not just from hate, but also from ignorance. No matter the cause, it is harmful, and it is my fault," she continued. "While I cannot change the past or remove the harm I have done, I promise to educate myself, learn, grow, and do better. While I hope to one day earn your forgiveness, I recognize that words alone are not enough. I understand it takes time and genuine change."
Smith said in a statement to EW on Thursday evening that she does "not accept Abby’s apology because her apology was not sincere." She also took issue with the fact that Miller had not reached out directly to her or her daughter, and she only found out about the apology through friends.
"My purpose with my original post was to share my story and how it negatively impacted my daughter and it resonated with many others because of the distressing times in our country," Smith said. "At this point, this is bigger than me and Kamryn. It’s about the potential effect that she has on the future of dance and negative, stereotypical influences on young, aspiring dancers of color."
She added, "I firmly believe that if Abby was truly sorry, she would have apologized a year ago when she exposed my then 7-year-old daughter to her first account of racism."
Though not named in Miller's apology, another parent from Dance Moms had also called out Miller's behavior. Camille Bridges said she also felt her daughter, Camryn Bridges, was mistreated due to her race. Camryn appeared on season 4 and 7 of Dance Moms.
"[Miller] tried to spin Camryn as being the poor one and there on scholarship. I shut that down immediately," Bridges told E! News. "She loves appropriating our culture and never appreciating it. She did not give black choreographers on the show acknowledgment of their work. She continuously put Camryn in afros."
"We were so relieved when she was gone especially when we thought she wasn't coming back," Bridges said about Miller serving prison time following a bankruptcy fraud trial. "When she returned, I looked at Camryn and told her we're leaving. I didn't care anymore about the ‘platform.' I was done. The woman is a mess. She is incredibly two-faced. She would say the most terrible things on camera, then tell Camryn how she was better than the girls on the team, mainly the ones she trained. It was a traumatic experience that I wish on no one."
Like Smith, Bridges was unmoved by Miller's apology. In a statement to EW on Friday, she said the dance coach never directly expressed regret to her or her daughter, and "only apologized because of the climate we’re in right now."
"Her money is being affected; that is the only reason she’s speaking out. She’s had years to apologize for the things she’s said to Camryn," Bridges added. "If she was truly repentant, she should put her money where her mouth is. Give some scholarships to underprivileged black children, stop appropriating our culture and simply learn about systemic racism and how she has benefitted from it and complicit in it."
Reached for comment Thursday evening, a representative for Lifetime said season 8 was Miller's last season on Dance Moms, which had been previously reported but not confirmed. The representative also said the network "had no plans to air" Abby’s Virtual Dance Off, which had been slated to premiere in late June.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
- ColorofChange.org works to make government more responsive to racial disparities.
- National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.