The Unplanned Podcast with Matt & Abby - Abby Lee Miller Tells All

Episode Date: July 10, 2024

Abby Lee Miller from "Dance Moms" opens up about her journey from the beginnings of the Abby Lee Dance Company, her relationship with Jojo Siwa, being sentenced to a year and a day in prison, to her b...attle with cancer. Don't miss this candid and powerful conversation! This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp, DoorDash, Athena Club & Huggies. BetterHelp: Visit today to get 10% off your first month. DoorDash: Sign up for DashPass today and get your first 30 days free if you’re a new member. Subject to change. Terms apply. Athena Club: Head over to to try their already-affordable Razor Kit for 30% off with code UNPLANNED at checkout. Huggies: Learn more at Once again, head to to learn more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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Starting point is 00:00:55 Let's go seize the night. That's the powerful backing of AmeriMexpress. Visit slash ymx. Benefits vary by car and other conditions apply. My difficulty with JoJo was she was homeschooled. I liked her. I definitely thought she had star quality. But I was always looking for a cohesive group. No one knew that I was going to the Tonys. The show never wanted people to know. They wanted this down and out, heavy, ginormous woman screaming at these little kids. So many things are going right and then prison sentence.
Starting point is 00:01:25 It was a witch hunt because I was off on a TV show. The prosecutor, his closing statement was, Abby Lee Miller, is she a dance mom or a dance con? Who was there for you through all of that? Not one of the moms. Not one of the kids that you spend every day with. Everybody uses everybody I guess. We sat down with Abby Lee Miller from the hit TV show, Dance Moms. Since you've last seen her,
Starting point is 00:01:46 she has served a prison sentence, undergone treatment for a rare life-threatening cancer, and learned to adapt to life in a wheelchair. We talk about everything from dance moms to filing for bankruptcy, to her current relationship with JoJo Siwa. And of course, she did not hold back. You won't want to miss this.
Starting point is 00:02:02 This episode of Unplanned is brought to you by Huggy's Skin Essentials. Baby butts, rejoice! New Huggies Skin Essentials are here! A brand new dermatologist approved line of diapers, wipes, and pull-ups training pants all designed with babies sensitive skin in mind. Can we just give it up? Let me just round of applause. Thank you for being here. Thank you for inviting me. This is wonderful. We were cracking up earlier because we were looking at all the trending audios that there are on social media with like. Only $100.
Starting point is 00:02:31 $1 for each one of those. Every time somebody says it. Am I the most audio? I think. Oh, you really think you have the most views on your audio? No, I'm the most repeated voice. Oh yeah. It really could be, because we actually-
Starting point is 00:02:49 Yeah, more than coaches and all that. I think I am. We got our start on social media doing TikTok dances, and at that time, your audios from the show were going viral, and there was all sorts of different bits. I saw one today that was, I think you posted on your page, it was a dubstep remix of one of the clips from the show. All the audios together.
Starting point is 00:03:10 Just to clarify, I didn't post it, but whatever. Okay. So yes, so you were TikTokers. That's how it started. Yes. That is how we are here in this room. That's crazy. That's crazy.
Starting point is 00:03:22 I still, TikTok's right down the street. I don't know if you know that. Really? The head offices are right down the street. Wow. You can run by and say hi. Yes. And I always felt there should be TikTok and TikTok pro for dancers that really danced. Because it saddened me greatly when I had these incredible dancers that could put their leg up to their face and just beautiful technique and they were doing that. They were doing that and like, and I cringed because they should be really dancing. But then I thought during COVID, you know, so many dads and grandpaps and and just boys in general were dancing. And I thought that's amazing.
Starting point is 00:04:07 If TikTok did that, then it's worth it. It's wonderful to get all these people and parents up off their butts and off the sofa during COVID and get them moving and get them dancing. I thought it was incredible. I almost want to get your reactions to our old TikTok. I feel like you would roast the crap out of us. Really? As you should. I think it makes me laugh. No, it's more deserved. Okay, so wait, it was during COVID
Starting point is 00:04:30 that you started doing TikTok. Yes, okay, so we're all stranded without work. What did you do prior to that? We were students. So we were in college at the time. And so our classes all went online. I was babysitting. We worked at a pizza restaurant together,
Starting point is 00:04:43 like very normal jobs. But we did take ballet together in college because for a while we were fully set on doing Broadway, you know, being theater people through and through. But then we got scared because we started talking to like real adults who were like, who had families and they were in that industry and they're like, I don't see my spouse for three months out of the year because I'm on tour. And then we were like, that's not for us. So we. So go back to, you're in St. Louis. you were in Illinois yes okay so I know a big dance teacher she's passed away now her name was Norma Butel in downtown in the
Starting point is 00:05:15 studio I don't know she had a big school so her kids were amazing you were in st. Louis County not like this city of st. Louis yeah yeah she was in the city and she used to tell me that she I mean I just wash my floors with one can of coke Three cans of water that was cool though that you knew what the Muni was because like that that's where I've had kids perform There yeah, it's an amazing theater. I don't know if you know that I've had 20 kids in wait Let me have our kids in 25 Broadway shows. That's insane Yes No one knows that.
Starting point is 00:05:45 Like, people don't know that. If you know me, you know that. But the show never wanted people to know that. They wanted this down and out dance teacher, this heavy, ginormous woman screaming at these little kids in Pittsburgh. That's what they wanted. No one knew that I was going to the Tonys long before that. And I, my, that was my connection.
Starting point is 00:06:03 And I knew Broadway choreographers and my mother's former student is married to John Kander of Kendra and Ed, who wrote New York, New York and like all this history there. Yeah. My mom had seven studios in Miami when she left to marry my dad in Pittsburgh. So as someone clearly dedicated to trying to getting your students on Broadway and doing all these things. Yeah. How did that, how did that make you feel with, with the show portraying you the way that it did? Well, you know, I had achieved my goals.
Starting point is 00:06:29 I wanted to have a winner. I wanted a Miss Dance of Pennsylvania for Dance Masters. That's all I wanted, all I wanted. And then I got one and then another kid won and then another kid and then a teen miss and a junior miss and a mystery dance and a teen mister. And it just got kind of crazy where we were winning everything.
Starting point is 00:06:44 I was married to my studio. I was there every day, a Sunday from 10 a Teen Mr. and it just got kind of crazy. Where we were winning everything. I was married to my studio. I was there every day, a Sunday from 10 a.m. till seven at night, running to seven o'clock mass, you know, as fast as I could late. That was my life. And those kids were my kids. I had kids working in Tokyo Disney, 17 back to back contracts to Tokyo Disney.
Starting point is 00:07:02 I had kids at Walt Disney World, 23 years straight. The dance captain of Beauty and the Beast was my student from Pittsburgh. Not one kid, but like through the years. And so I had achieved all these things and then I wanted a kid on Broadway and I did it and then they got another show and then another kid got that show and it was like, boom, boom, boom, boom. And when you have the casting director for Disney call you in your bedroom and say if you have anyone else that wants to work At Disney, they don't even need to audition. Just call us and let us know That's a big deal. Yeah, that's huge for me. And so The TV thing kind of happened. It was my a friend of mine that I knew a young guy that was a dancer
Starting point is 00:07:42 I knew him as a kid and he grew up and he was working professionally and he was kind of at the end of his career and needed to pay his credit card bills. And we met up at a competition in Vegas and I said, come on, we have to go see my little ones. He was like, what do you mean? Your kids are here. I said, no, my good kids are here at this convention. My other kids are somewhere else. I have to run down the street to like a rinky-dink hotel and see them and he went with me and Maddie did her solo and then another little girl whose name you don't know but probably should and then another kid
Starting point is 00:08:14 who you don't know either and they were, you know, sweet and nice and their moms paid their bills on time and were good customers, you don't know those kids. And they, his mouth was like on the floor. And I said, what is wrong with you? He goes, Abby, these kids are so cute. They should be on television. They have to be on TV. I said, let me introduce you to their mothers. And then I took them outside around the pool area, like outside the ballrooms. And they were drunk and broke and bitching about everything. Everything, the sheets, the bedding, the housekeeping,
Starting point is 00:08:48 the convention, the competition, everything. And I said, let's go. We got back in the car and headed up to the fancy hotel where the kids were older and their mothers all didn't go because it's not a family vacation, it's competition. And he said, I have a really good idea and that was it and then it took him a year To develop the format and then to sell the show and then all of a sudden I got a phone Well, I I got a phone call every day asking questions about well who picks the music well who picks the questions
Starting point is 00:09:20 Well, how did they do this? What did I go? John you danced your whole life? How do you not know this because I just wore black pants and a shirt and I showed up. My mom and dad weren't that involved. And I was like, okay. So then it went on and on and on and on and on. I feel like I developed the show. And don't get the credit. And they were coming to Pittsburgh to find a cast and that was it. And the cast was my students. 30 people interviewed, nobody auditioned, nobody danced. There was no five, six, seven, eight. Really? No, the kids sat in a chair next to their moms and smiled.
Starting point is 00:09:54 It was like more about personality. It was a housewife show centered around a dance studio. It was 80% the moms, 10% the kids, 10% dance, and I was not on the show. I had nothing to do with it. They were just using my studio for free. Were you, this guy who made all this happen, was he like… Never came to Pittsburgh once. Really? Was he paying you or how did this work?
Starting point is 00:10:16 Never on set. Nope. Nobody paid me. Nobody. I was down and out. My dad had passed away. He used to run the front desk and the books and Everything and everything was wonderful. I led a really nice life. I drove an Escalade every two years a brand new Escalade I I had a great life, you know, but I never paid a bill. I never Took in the money. I you know, I didn't want to know what kid owed and what didn't because I would treat them differently in class I didn't do that and it's hard to be in the studio making stars and be out at the front desk making payroll and making money. That's a very difficult thing for me to do till this day. Yeah. So was the studio in a financially like struggling place at the time? Yeah, I had to declare bankruptcy. Yes.
Starting point is 00:11:00 Wow. Over something stupid, you know, you look back in hindsight and you should have never done that. It was the taxes, the school taxes, not the property taxes, the school taxes on my building. They had been put in escrow for 20 some years and then I refinanced the building because I was paying nine and three quarter percent interest on almost a million dollars. And so I refinanced it and they never put the taxes into escrow again. And it took them three years to give me a bill. Thank you to my township, Penton Hills.
Starting point is 00:11:33 Like why didn't they give me a bill when I was one month late? Come after me then. Don't wait three years and then come after me. Something about some sheriff's girlfriend wanted the property, thought she was going to buy it from out from under me. Oh, really? Yeah, it was four months in a day, four months in a day. The show started later, like four months later.
Starting point is 00:11:53 And I had I known there was going to be a TV show. I mean, they would have come into town, the network, and I would have said, hey, I'm going to lose this building. You need to pay for it. And they would have. Or they would have done something. But four months too early, I declared bankruptcy. And you mentioned your dad. So was he part of like running the business of the dance
Starting point is 00:12:11 studio too? Yes. Yeah. He worked for the railroad for the Monongaheo Connecting Railroad in Pittsburgh in conjunction with J&L Steel. He had a really great job. One of those jobs where, you know, they don't exist anymore with all the pension and the dental and health and eyes and everything, insurance, everything. And when did he kind of turn over? Because it sounded like he was kind of running the finances. Yeah, he always did. Him and my mom, they always did. But then once he retired from
Starting point is 00:12:40 43 years working for the railroad, he was at the studio and helped with gymnastics and spotting kids and stuff every once in a while, but he ran the books, he ran the desk. During the day, and he did all the billing, and he died of a brain tumor and esophageal cancer. So yeah, so we found a lot of checks and stuff written out, it was stamps on the envelope that he never mailed from like months before and things like that.
Starting point is 00:13:04 Gotcha. So yeah. And how old were you then when you completely started running the studio yourself? Twenty-two. Twenty-two when I built my building. Okay. And then probably, I don't know how old I was when my dad died, 30ish? Yeah.
Starting point is 00:13:20 Gotcha. I should have been running the books. And when he was dying, I was like, Dad, give me a list of the bills. Give me a list of what is happening. And he'd just throw out numbers like, okay, if you're taking in this, you're doing all right. If you're taking in this, you're doing great. If you're taking in this, you got to worry.
Starting point is 00:13:38 Teach some more privates. That was it. That was my lesson in finance. And I was an only child. He was one of six and grew up during the depression. And so I just said, Dad, I need money. And he said, well, how much? Where are you going? And then he gave me 20 bucks or 50 bucks or a thousand bucks, dependent. Like there was never any now kids, you know, and I was a big advocate with traveling with children without their parents. That's a big misconception too. the parents never went. Nobody sat in my studio for five hours a day
Starting point is 00:14:07 every day of the week. That's insane. You know, Dr. Holly, we never saw her, ever. Never saw her. She came and paid her bill and that was it. Like, you never saw her sitting there. Kelly was the only one that sat there day in and day out because she had nothing else to do.
Starting point is 00:14:22 I don't wanna say I was spoiled because my dad was tough on me and he told me crazy things like, you're dumb enough to be a twin. Every day he told me that. I'd ask you to go down to the garage and get a hammer and you'd come up with a handful of nails. Pay attention. He was tough on me.
Starting point is 00:14:36 That's where I get the toughness from. That's going to add up. Yeah, from my dad. Okay. My mother was sweet and nice and loving and kind and such a lady-like feminine woman and she would walk behind me in the studio whenever I laid out a kid and screamed at them. She'd be behind me going, it's okay. She didn't really mean it.
Starting point is 00:14:54 It's fine. You're like, yes, I did mean it. Yeah. I'm like, mom, shush. I meant it. Yeah. So that was like good cop, bad cop kind of thing. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:15:04 Yeah. And I never gave my mother enough credit when she was alive. I never gave her enough credit for running a great business. She had a great business. She was a great businesswoman and I never gave her credit for it. I don't mean managing the books, just not ever hurting a child's feelings, never losing a student over some incident or something. I'm the one that did all that. Yeah, I was gonna ask, was that put on for the show
Starting point is 00:15:29 or was that just pretty much how you ran the class? No, that was pretty much how it was. Yeah, that was pretty much how it was. It's a tough thing. Some kids are more talented than others. Some kids work harder than others. Some parents are much more involved than others. Some are great dance parents.
Starting point is 00:15:45 They are there when you need them. They'll do whatever you ask them to do, but then they don't butt in. And you have two children, your boys, but I would say if your kid comes out of whatever it is, sports or a class or whatever, and they're crying and they're upset because the teacher said this or that,
Starting point is 00:16:04 you turn to the child and you say, look, there's two options. You quit, you never go back or you finish out the season and then you're done or you go back in and you prove them wrong tomorrow. You go back in there tomorrow and you prove that teacher or that coach wrong. That's what you say. You know, and in Pittsburgh where we were, I was the predominant studio. So you weren't going to quit and go somewhere else. Where were you going to go?
Starting point is 00:16:27 At the second string place or the third string place? No. You were already driving an hour and something to me to come to me, you know? So I want to get back to where you did you dance. My eyes watered. Oh yeah. So I danced at two places growing up. I danced at Kropinski Academy of Dance in St. Louis and then Jerry Stratz Academy, which
Starting point is 00:16:44 was the person running at the time was Yvonne Meyer-Hare. I don't know if you know who that is. But yeah, there were two people that worked a lot with the youth at the Muni in St. Louis, which is where Abby and I met. Okay. So you were working professionally as a child? I did a few gigs, yeah, as a kid. I played a few roles at the Muni as a child actor. And then I hit puberty. What were they?
Starting point is 00:17:07 So I was in the Sound of Music twice. I was in, I was Kurt at the Muni in like 2012. And then I played Friedrich at another theater in St. Louis like the year after that. Not super dance heavy roles. Yeah, not super dance heavy, but I trained though a lot cause I was just, I saw the chorus people at the Muni and I thought, man, I really need to get really good at dance because this is
Starting point is 00:17:30 what I should do. But then I ignored a lot of the acting and a lot of the character development as far as what the leads would be in musical theater. And I feel like if I could have gone back, I probably would have focused more on that. But it all ended up working out. You did Newzies and stuff though too. I guess it was in Newzies. I did the big and stuff though too. I guess it wasn't newsies. Like I did the big tap number in newsies so I can tap.
Starting point is 00:17:47 Okay, good. I'm excited. I didn't know this about the two of you. I didn't know the connection with why they want me to be on this. Now I get it. This show is sponsored by BetterHelp. We used to drive 45 minutes to go to therapy. And it wasn't even a good therapist, honestly, looking back on it.
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Starting point is 00:19:27 for the modern busy person that wants therapy. So stop comparing and start focusing with BetterHelp. Visit slash unplanned podcast today to get 10% off your first month. That's betterhelp, H-E-L-P dot com slash unplanned podcast. I wanna go back to kinda like you and your motivations for like starting dance in your studio and stuff. Was your teacher growing up also like the same teaching style that you had?
Starting point is 00:19:53 No, it was my mom. Oh, your mom. That's right. She was very tender. She was just very creative. Creative. Very creative. She could take a paper towel and make 50 things out of it.
Starting point is 00:20:02 Okay. That's cool. Apron and do a little Dutch dance or a babushka and do the polka or a lasso and do a hoedown. She was very creative. We still use her baby, like her preschool curriculum till this day. Sweet. Yeah, it's great. We have a great curriculum. With the show, did you expect for so many people to arise out of it as stars and people
Starting point is 00:20:26 dropping hits that are, you know, going trending on social media? Well, I did the hits. I produced It's a Girl Party that went to number one on iTunes in three countries. Oh, wow. Yeah. And then a few years later, I did a song for Kendall called Where I'm Out. She also bumped Taylor Swift off the number one spot on iTunes. It was insane. It was insane.
Starting point is 00:20:50 Whoa. Then there's JoJo. Yeah, I'm curious. She's been dropping a lot of new music. Have you have you heard it? Oh, I've heard it. I've seen it all. She texts me last not last night, the night before last night at four o'clock in the morning.
Starting point is 00:21:03 She was texting me because she was in Chicago and she thought I was in Florida. So it was, but still that's six a.m. It was too early. And she was texting me in the middle of the night. And then she's like, wait, where are you? I said, LA. She goes, why are you up?
Starting point is 00:21:17 I go, because JoJo Si was texting me. Why am I not up? Of course. I saw that she, I saw some article about how they had the biggest turnout at Chicago Pride for her performing Which I thought was like super impressive. It was like 50,000 people or something At that event which is kind of crazy to think how your your show of this, you know These dance moms the studio and now you have someone who's selling out, you know, Chicago Pride. Yes Jojo was on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition first,
Starting point is 00:21:46 and they loved her, the network, and they wanted to bring her on to Dance Moms. I liked her. I definitely thought she had star quality, but I was always looking for a group. I wanted a cohesive group. I wanted everybody to be the same height, they were all lefties or all righties.
Starting point is 00:22:04 I wanted everyone to turn on the same leg like you know what I mean? We'll both like them and I wanted that's what I was always looking for So when they would throw these a rando people in there like Jojo, I'm like, oh my god How am I gonna rein her in and get her to be part of this group? And so being a star. Yes, of course, doing a solo, she was fabulous in the group. That was the struggle. They're two separate things. Yes.
Starting point is 00:22:32 What do you say makes someone have that star quality? They're really passionate about what they do. Whether you see it in a lyrical contemporary type of routine, that acting ability, or whether they're just a perfectionist and they get very frustrated if they're messing something up, you know how important it is to them. Or they're just, I don't wanna use the word,
Starting point is 00:22:55 they're just very out there. They're just very, they don't care what anybody thinks. And that's the thing with me too. And I try to tell people, and I've told JoJo this many times as well as the other kids on the show. When you're an artist, whether you sing, dance, act or you're a sculptor, a painter, you put your heart out there on a platter and someone's going to stab it. Someone's going to stab it.
Starting point is 00:23:22 It doesn't matter. You could work on this figure, whatever, this huge art piece for years and then it's in a gallery and you're in New York City at this gallery in the opening and you hear somebody behind you say, oh, well, I think it looks like a hunk of junk. You have to turn around and say, well, that's good because you can't afford it anyway. And you walk away because you love it and you care about your craft so much that nothing anyone says is ever going to matter. What is that for you? That would be choreographically, the choreography.
Starting point is 00:23:54 You don't care what any judge or anybody ever says about it because you know you put your heart into that piece and it's out there. Or that student, my students that I train, you know, and you get that feedback like, oh, she's one of Abby's kids. Meaning the work ethic is there, the commitment is there, the determination, the dedication, the discipline, it's all there because they're one of my kids. JoJo was a student that you were like hard on. I feel like you were hard on all the students, but I feel like particularly JoJo.
Starting point is 00:24:22 And do you think she was one of those students that came back to the studio the next day and proved you wrong? Yeah, she tried to. She kept trying. I'd get her again. My difficulty with Jojo was she was homeschooled. So the standing in line, taking your turn, raising your hand, things you learn at school that aren't math or science, you know, she didn't have.
Starting point is 00:24:46 So she would just like blurt out questions in the middle of a conversation, interrupt adults when they were speaking. And that's the kind of stuff I had to like crack down on her. And she learned. Because it's like I forget that you're not, obviously you're not teaching adults, you're like, you're teaching dance first and foremost, but you're also teaching them how to like be humans in settings like dance studios and at your competitions and stuff.
Starting point is 00:25:10 Right, and traveling and getting in and out of an elevator and everything. I taught that to all those kids in Pittsburgh. We went away to our big national conventions in the summer and the competitions. There were black tie sit down banquets. I literally had to have class in my studio on what fork to use. Seriously. Because people at home use a knife, a fork and a spoon. They don't use three forks and three spoons and all this and that.
Starting point is 00:25:37 So you had to literally teach the boys when a girl gets up from the table, stand up as she leaves. And when she comes back to the table, stand up, help her push her chair in. I taught those boys that, my boys. My boys are probably my most successful students. Really? Not the TV show kids, like in real life. Okay.
Starting point is 00:25:57 As far as Broadway. Yeah. One of my students, Mark Myers, he was the dance supervisor of Wicked all over the world. He still is. He is the associate choreographer of Dear Evan Hansen and SpongeBob the musical, If Then with Adina Menzel, My Fair Lady, he set My Fair Lady, Wicked, a new cast of Wicked, and Dear Evan Hansen
Starting point is 00:26:20 in London's West End simultaneously set three shows, yes. Holy cow. Yeah, I have a boy right now, John Michael Fumar, he's in Hamilton, back in Hamilton, but he was in the movie with Steven Spielberg, West Side Story, and I remember saying to him, you have to tell me what you're wearing and when you enter, and so I know.
Starting point is 00:26:40 He said, Ab, just watch the movie the first time, and then the next time you see it, I'll tell you everything, and then you can see it again. He's in the entire movie, front and center, right next to Riff the whole time. Like, it's insane. He's amazing in it. Mattie's in it for like two seconds,
Starting point is 00:26:58 and cries, and that's it. Yeah, he's amazing in it. And I have a boy that just did A Lion King with Northwest, and was on tour with Rosalia and does all kinds of stuff. Like I have a lot of working kids. Wow. I can tell you take a lot of pride in your kids.
Starting point is 00:27:13 I do. They're my kids. I never had children of my own and they're my kids. I was going to ask that. Were they kind of just like your children? Absolutely. We had so many. So what was that like?
Starting point is 00:27:22 You have all these stars who are working in the industry and so many things are going right and then you have the prison sentence. How did you cope with that? How did you get through that? It was just a whirlwind. The toughest thing I went through was the moms talking about it on the show and one of the producers that we had later on in the show when it moved to LA that was just indignant. He was just cruel and wanted them to keep talking about it, keep talking about it.
Starting point is 00:27:51 In the meantime, my attorneys, my criminal defense attorneys had contacted the show, the network. You cannot talk about this. It's an ongoing investigation. You are jeopardizing this case and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And he didn't care. He just kept at it. And the moms were stupid and kept doing what they were told instead of some sense of morality, instead of some sense of loyalty and been kinder on me and just not talked about it.
Starting point is 00:28:19 Was there any backlash for that, them talking about an ongoing investigation when it happened? Yeah. And then the prosecutor for the city his closing statement in a courtroom his final line after he gave his closing statement was Abby Lee Miller is she a dance mom or a dance con? Really? And my attorneys don't object I'm sitting there and they're like well well, you can't object. It's his closing statement. I'm like, say something. I'm paying you all this money.
Starting point is 00:28:49 $1.2 million. Say something. It was a witch hunt because I was mean and tough on a TV show. The people of Pittsburgh went after me and that's it. Instead of throwing us a parade for all the publicity we gave to the city, they and all the money and the, you know, filming there and all that and the restaurants that we patronized and the caterers and all that. Yeah, it was definitely a witch hunt.
Starting point is 00:29:13 Did it feel like the city turned its back on you in a way? Absolutely. Absolutely. And why I went to prison, there were 21 indictments and only one stuck. I own a house in Orlando, Florida, a vacation home, and it was an adjustable rate mortgage. It was sometimes $4,000 or $5,000 a month. My mortgage payment would fluctuate. It was insane.
Starting point is 00:29:34 And that's how I kind of got in trouble with my building and everything because I didn't have the money to pay it because I kept paying it to this house. Well, anyway, on and on and on. So my attorney, my bankruptcy attorney sat on the stand and said what the account was, the account was that the bank wouldn't have negotiated a rate for me had they known I was on a TV show. That was what it was about. And I didn't want to walk away from my house. I never wanted to walk away because I was too afraid that
Starting point is 00:30:05 I wouldn't get credit again to buy another house. I was kind of the girl mouth kind of person. And I told my attorneys, no way, I'm not walking away from the house. This is years before the case. And behind my back, without my signature, without my knowledge, they had gone to Chase Bank and said, she's walking away from this house unless you negotiate. They couldn't get a phone call returned. They couldn't get an email returned. Chase just wasn't dealing with them at all. Just at all, just completely ignoring them until they said, she's going to walk away from the house. Then it was, oh, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a minute. We can work something out here.
Starting point is 00:30:41 So they negotiated the rate down to 4.9. That wasn't even low back then. It was nothing. So the judge literally sat there and said, if anyone, anyone at Chase Bank knew you were on a TV show, they would have never negotiated this rate so low. And I sentence you to a year and a day in prison. Thank you to DoorDash for sponsoring today's episode. I will say, like as a parent,
Starting point is 00:31:03 if your kid's down for a nap and you have no food at home for lunch, like DoorDash is an amazing, amazing solution. I use DoorDash probably twice a week, if not more, just because I always get hit with those moments where it's like, oh shoot, I need food, or the kids are asleep right now, but I can't like leave the house and go get food for myself
Starting point is 00:31:23 because my children are asleep. Or even if they're not asleep, just getting out of the house, just to go through a drive through for yourself can be a really big hassle. Like you got to get them in the car seat. Someone's got a dirty day. My favorite door dash feature though is, I don't know if you guys knew this, whenever you figure out your order and you, you know, it saves your order for you and at a tap of a button, you can order the same thing right away and it takes you literally like five seconds.
Starting point is 00:31:48 And they have this thing called Dash Pass now, which ends up saving you money in the long run if you do more than one or two orders of DoorDash a month because it's their membership and they have Dash Pass exclusive deals on DoorDash. And that is why we are actually Dash Pass members because I realized I was wasting money by DoorDash. And that is why we are actually DashPass members, because I realized I was wasting money by DoorDashing multiple times a week,
Starting point is 00:32:08 and I realized that DashPass is literally the cost of like two DoorDashes. Yeah, it gives you unlimited $0 delivery fees on eligible orders and members only deals and discounts, and it's an exclusive membership just for DoorDash. Get the best deal and exclusive items from your favorite brands like Taco Bell, Popeyes, and Ulta Beauty.
Starting point is 00:32:27 Order on DashPass and save big during summer on DashPass. Sign up today. Plus you'll be getting $0 delivery fees and lower service fees with a DashPass membership. DashPass benefits apply only to eligible orders, terms of fly. Did you say terms of fly or terms of fly? Okay, it sounded like you said terms of fly.
Starting point is 00:32:45 It really did. I went to prison because of maybe walking away from a vacation home, which I didn't, I still on the house till this day and I still make the mortgage payment and I didn't pay it off. The whole time I was doing a show. I just never paid it off because I was making a point that I'm still paying it every month. No problem.
Starting point is 00:33:00 How long was this whole process? Cause you must've been in court a lot and No, I was in court Twice three times. That was it. Oh, really? It was just that they saw a lot of other people in court that I didn't know about behind my back They flew around the world. I think Pittsburgh spent four point five million dollars on my case. That's a lot of money That's stupid. They could have just knocked on my door. I would have told him everything. I'm like an open book They never knocked on my door once in Pittsburgh. They never asked me. I would have said, come on in. Want
Starting point is 00:33:27 to come? You want some chips? What do you need to know? I would have told them everything they needed to know. Did I make mistakes? Yes. Did I do some stupid things? Yes. A stupid thing would be like coming out here to LA and opening a bank account without getting the judge's permission first in the bankruptcy case, the judge's permission first on a Saturday when I had 10 checks in my hand that were going to expire from shooting a television show and I had no money to spend while I was here on gas, on food, on this, on that because it was all these checks that I had to put in the bank. So I had to open up an ink account at Wells Fargo to deposit these checks. Then Monday I called and said,
Starting point is 00:34:10 can I have permission to do this? But I already did it. That's the kind of stuff that I did wrong and I was punished for. Yeah, it's asinine. And I went for, I stayed there for eight and a half months and had I done a year in a day I would have died in prison was it just was it awful was it was it okay like how it was it was Some of it was awful and torturous and humiliating and other stuff was wonderful and great I lost 127 pounds and I read 150 books and I made some friends that I'll have for the rest of my life Do you stay in touch with yes, you met Wow are they still in prison? No. No, they're all out. One girl got out. She was in for 10 years. Wow. And she got out and died within a year in a halfway house. Wow. That's so sad. I never got to see her. She gave me the shoes off of her feet. Really? She literally gave me her black Nikes that
Starting point is 00:35:01 she had worked and worked and worked to raise the money to buy them and then had to order them and then wait for them to come in. And they had just come in and I, we wore the same size shoe and she said, here, take these. Wow. What was it? The first week I was there. Why did she offer those to you? Because I was wearing big boots and had blisters all over my feet and she had to wear the big boots because of where she worked in the, in the camp. She had a job and she had to wear the big boots because of where she worked in the camp.
Starting point is 00:35:25 She had a job and she was in like a high security prison and had one good behavior, got to the camp. So, she was a wonderful person. Wow. What's that like the first day you walk into prison? Was that just awful? I had a piece of paper, you're allowed to take one piece of paper with phone numbers on it and they took it from me within 10 minutes of being there.
Starting point is 00:35:47 They stole that took the paperwork, a guard, an officer that was questioning me. And they questioned me about, I don't know who watches your show. They questioned me about sex. Really? A lot of very, I kind of forgot about this till just now, until you asked me, a lot of very intimate questions and questions that no guard at a prison needs to know. I was shocked by it. I was like, what?
Starting point is 00:36:17 Was there a reason? Was it just to humiliate you? It was to find out answers, I guess. They wanted to know things. How often? Oh yeah. And then the guy that questioned me got up and left and someone else came in and started asking pretty much the same questions. Not those questions but the regular run-of-the-mill stuff. And I said somebody just asked me and they go who? They didn't even know the guy. The guy, the people that were around me when I first went in, the officers and the guards, they
Starting point is 00:36:48 didn't know who that guy was. He was from outside somewhere. He wasn't even part of that camp that was questioning me with all those intimate details. Nope. So that was weird. And then they strip search you. And the night before I went in, a bunch of my friends from Pittsburgh flew out to LA and were with me all night in the house in the house and I was so worried about them strip
Starting point is 00:37:09 searching you you know they look up your everything and my friend she's very witty and she said come on think about the person's job it is to look up your ass. They have to do it every day, it's their job, you have to do it once, who cares? So they're doing it and I'm laughing just like you are, I'm tears are rolling down my face in laughter because I'm thinking, you poor fool, you have to do this every day. Oh my gosh. It's funny you bring that up because at the airport today, I got a pat down and I've never had that happen and I couldn't help but laugh
Starting point is 00:37:49 because it was so uncomfortable and weird and they're just touching everything. I do it every time I fly. Every time I fly, they rub their hands under my rear end, all in my crotch, my breast, my back, my shoulders. I have to lean and lean. I have to, yeah, then they take a mirror and look underneath the chair. They swab down my shoes, my hands, every time I fly. And the other thing that
Starting point is 00:38:17 bothers me about the ADA compliant thing with the wheelchair is 30 years ago, the ADA compliant act is 30 years old, 30 years. I get to the airport on time. I checked my bags. I tip very well. Whoever's carrying all that crap and you know, I do what I'm supposed to do. I fly first class. I pay. I get to security. You go in a certain lane, the wheelchairs, you go in and then you walk in front of me and you walk in front of me, you walk in front of me, they walk in front of me, and they walk in front of me, and you sit
Starting point is 00:38:49 there and wait for a female that has certain seniority to do this pat down. And at the beginning when I give my passport and my ticket, I say call for female assist. No, we can't do that. You have to wait until you're up there. You have to wait until you're up there. You have to wait until you're up there. So then you get up you're up there. You have to wait till you're up there. So then you get up there with your bags go through and you're up there and I go, I need a female assist. Call for female assist. Sometimes it's 40 minutes.
Starting point is 00:39:14 I sit there while everybody walks by me and goes through the metal detector and I was like, that's what the ADA compliant is so that I can be like everybody else, that I'm treated the same as everyone else. But I'm not. They got to the airport an hour after I did and they're going through already. Okay, so I got confused for a second because with the pat down, I assumed it has something to do with the prison sentence, but it's strictly- No, no, no, no, no, no, no. It's the wheelchair.
Starting point is 00:39:40 Really? So everyone that has a wheelchair has to go through this. They get a pat down. Yeah, the prison sentence. No, it has nothing to do with that. Okay. That's done. You come out, you're good. You have great credit. It's great. Except you can't get global entry. That's like one of the, right?
Starting point is 00:39:54 Right. Yes, I can't do that. I filled out a whole four months and I got to the last question. I was like, you couldn't have put that first? Saved me all this time? No. Yeah. Yeah. Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Yeah. Gotcha. What's on it? Why? Have you ever been convicted of crime? Yeah. Gotcha. Why? Have you been convicted of crime? I haven't. No, that's why I'm so curious because I've, I've never like gone through this. I heard you, I'm not yet. I've heard, I heard you too on a podcast
Starting point is 00:40:14 talk about like how you were somehow getting brown sugar to have on your cereal. And it got me so curious too, because like you hear about all this stuff that goes on in prisons. It does. And it does. And I thought it was a housekeeper that you pay with snacks. That's just that's so funny though that that brown sugar was like a substance that like, oh, I got my brown sugar in my cereal. Like it was for the oatmeal. Yeah.
Starting point is 00:40:38 The brown sugar. You got it from someone that worked in the kitchen. How do you what what's the payment of currency in the prison? How do you get that? Every day there's commissary. I think Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday there's commissary. Like you get to go to the store and buy your snacks and stuff. Toiletries, sometimes there's makeup.
Starting point is 00:40:59 Sometimes there's illegal perfume, which I find ironic, I guess. So there's people in prison for selling illegal bags, handbags, and counterfeit stuff, right? But then the prison sells the knockoff obsession and Gucci perfume and this and that. Interesting. How is that? How is that? But I did bitch about the Heinz ketchup because they didn't have ketchup. You could buy barbecue sauce, you can buy hot sauce, you can buy mustard, but you couldn't buy ketchup.
Starting point is 00:41:29 How are you buying this stuff? And I'm from Pittsburgh. Heinz, like, come on. We need ketchup. And two days later, we had ketchup. Wow, look at that. Yeah, I had some pool. I had a lot of pool with those guys.
Starting point is 00:41:40 But getting money in a prison, do you have to come in with money or? No, no, no, no, no, no. People put money on your books. Like your friends at home give you have to come in with money or? No, no, no, no, no, no, people put money on your books. Like, your friends at home give you my, like, my own money. They put my own money on my books. And you could get like $180 a week to spend. And your friend that works so hard to get those shoes. She had to work in the prison as a job.
Starting point is 00:42:02 Thank you to Athena Club for sponsoring today's episode. You just give it up for Athena Club. Thank you, Athena Club for sponsoring today's episode. Can we just give it up for Athena Club? Thank you, Athena Club. I am a girly that needs to shave. Yeah. Like, I, well, I shouldn't say need to, but I like want to be clean shaven. Like, I like the feeling of it.
Starting point is 00:42:16 I don't like the feeling of the stubbles. I don't love the look of the hair on my legs because it grows in thick and dark, and I love a good, smooth, close shave, and that is what Athena Club delivers. I personally feel like the shaving cream is not talked about enough. I love, love their shaving cream. First of all, it smells so good and high end, but it gives you such a smooth, clean shave,
Starting point is 00:42:38 does not irritate my skin and I do not get like the razor burn rash with their products because there's no like tugging or pulling on the skin. It's just smooth as a baby's bum. And I think that's because they have five patented blades. First of all, Athena Club's razors glide effortlessly like I was saying thanks to five precision engineered blades. The blades glide across your skin effortlessly to leave you with the smoothest skin after
Starting point is 00:43:03 just one swipe. And it also prevents ingrown hairs. They're surrounded by these super moisturizing water activated serum with hyaluronic acid and avocado oil that hydrates you as you shave. Plus it has built in skin guards that help prevent razor burn and reduce irritation. And also I need the skin guards because I cut myself shaving still as a 25 scary. Yeah, I'm like, did someone get... Thank goodness for that skin guard because yeah, especially the cheap razors, babe, you would just go to town and you're just bleeding everywhere.
Starting point is 00:43:30 It was kind of scary. It's actually rated the best razor for sensitive skin by Vogue. That sounds very credible to me. Dang, it's awesome. You have to give Athena Club a try. Ready to upgrade your shaving experience? Switch to the best razor on the market and show your skin you care with Athena Club. Head over to to try
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Starting point is 00:44:00 Everyone has a job. What was your job? Well, I got to make my own job. They let me make, well, first of all, okay, just let me say most of the people in prison, the more established, well-educated people, you know, like your counselors and stuff, they thought it was ridiculous that I was there. They could not believe that I was in prison for what I did. And I kept trying to go over everyone's head. I want to talk to the warden. I do. I want to talk to the warden.
Starting point is 00:44:26 Like, some of this stuff is ridiculous. So my job, well, I'll get to the warden in a minute. So my job that I did was wash the windows because I wanted to be outside because it was sunny. I'm tall, so I could reach and didn't need to be done all that much. You know, it was dusty and sandy in the desert in Victorville, California So that was my job
Starting point is 00:44:50 So I'm out there and I have a hose and my thumb is on the hose to make it spray So then I go in and I go where's the handle that goes on this like the tart the gun to? Spread they said well. We don't have one thumb. I go, you had to go buy a Home Depot and a Lowe's on the way here. Like, seriously? You can't get, I'll give you the money off my books to get the thing. I'll order it.
Starting point is 00:45:17 My friends will order, no Amazon prime it here. It'll be here tomorrow. No, can't do that, just use your thumb. Like some stuff is archaic. It's ridiculous. The computer system, my friends work for Apple, and shout out to Marion, okay? And they work for Apple in Ireland. They're big shots there. And they could not believe the computer system that I had to give them and how you log in and how we communicate with people over internet. Was it only email?
Starting point is 00:45:45 Was that the only way you could communicate? Yeah, email and phone and then I got in trouble the first two, second day I was there on the phone. They said I was speaking in, in, um, speak, not speaking in tongues, speaking in code. Code or something? Yeah, I was in a gang and it was code. Were there actual gangs though in the prison that you were in? Yes, I guess. Yes. But my code was sickled feet. I said that the guards had sickled
Starting point is 00:46:11 feet. Okay. And they said that was code. And I had all my all my liberties taken away from me for the first three months I was there. No. Except visitors. So that didn't make sense. So now I could talk in code to the people face to face when I saw them when they came to visit. But I wasn't allowed to have phone privileges for three months. Because you said the guards had sickled feet? Yes. Wild.
Starting point is 00:46:35 There was a lot of crazy. Was there ever a time that you were like actually scared for your safety in prison? Yes. A lot. That's going to be in a documentary. Oh, wow. Really? Do you know, do you have a date for when the documentary is be in a documentary. Oh, wow. Really? Yeah.
Starting point is 00:46:46 Do you know, do you have a date for when the documentary is coming out? No. No. Okay. No. Okay. I'll have to watch it. I'm like, I'm super invested in this prison stuff.
Starting point is 00:46:54 Yeah. Yeah. That's what we talked about this whole time. Yeah. I, yeah, it was, well, so then it, towards the end, the last month and a half of my, what I served, so at seven months, I started to put weight back on. And I was so cold, I was going into that hair salon that we had in the prison, taking the hairdryer
Starting point is 00:47:13 and blowing it up my nightgown and down my nightgown at night because I was so freezing cold. And that's a huge thyroid sign that there's something wrong. So it started then. That's why I know had I fulfilled the year in a day, I would have died. So then I was out for one week,
Starting point is 00:47:30 in a halfway house for one week, and I got a pain in the back of my neck. And I thought it was just a headache or muscles, and I was getting a sinus headache. So that's when I went to the first doctor on April 3rd. April 1st was Easter Sunday, and I wasn't feeling well. April 3rd I went to an urgent care. April 4th I went to a dentist. My jaw was completely numb. April 5th I went back to the dentist or back to the urgent care. She said I'd
Starting point is 00:47:56 never seen blood results like this before. I think you're in a thyroid storm. So then the 4th I did nothing. The fifth, they admitted me into the hospital. I stayed there the sixth, the seventh. They let me go in more pain than I went in with at nine o'clock at night alone. Discharged from a hospital and in Uber back to the halfway house. The 11th, I went to another doctor
Starting point is 00:48:22 and he gave me shakes to drink and I couldn't lift them I couldn't carry the bag it hurt so bad my arms and then on Friday the 13th I went to the sixth seventh doctor and he sent me across the street to Cedars in Marina Del Rey California to Cedars to get an MRI that was put under for an MRI. And they put me under and they put me in the machine and my arms and legs were flailing about, incontrollably. And then they pulled me out and admitted me.
Starting point is 00:48:54 That was Friday night, late. By Sunday I was paralyzed from the neck down. It's terrifying. What did that feel like? I was so out of it. And so drugged up, they gave me every steroid they could to keep me alive. My blood pressure was 23 over 17 when they took me in to emergency surgery and I'd never heard this before. I had had surgery on my knee outpatient before. That
Starting point is 00:49:17 was it. So I would never spend a night in the hospital until this whole thing happened till I was 52 years old. Never. I never had children, I never, you know, nothing. I slept in a hospital next to my mom and dad when they were dying, but nothing for me. So it was all very bizarre and I was so out of it. And I had one friend, Nikki, who sat next to me in that hospital bed day in and day out. And the doctor kinda didn't show up for two days
Starting point is 00:49:42 after he sent me for that MRI. If he would've gone with me, I think maybe things could have been different. But I was paralyzed from the neck down. So there was nothing anyone could do at that point. They did emergency surgery and it was black tar wrapped around my spinal cord choking it. And it was Burkitt lymphoma, a very rare form of cancer.
Starting point is 00:50:01 And it's fatal. And that was it. And I woke up and I did 10 rounds of chemo after that very invasive chemo where you're in hospital for five days, intravenous chemo. And then the sixth day you have a spinal tap where they take out the spinal cord fluid and put in the chemo and then the seventh day you have a lumbar injection which goes up your spinal cord around your brain and ten times. You did that ten times. And then so
Starting point is 00:50:36 then you do that for seven days and then on eighth day you're taken to rehabilitation center and you're there for 23 days. Who was there for you through all of that? Was that, were there any friends? Not one of the moms, not one of the kids, uh, that you spent every day with for years, you know? And that's the thing about the kids and the show is when we weren't filming, those kids were still with me. They were with me traveling or going to Australia
Starting point is 00:51:06 or going to Paris to the Eiffel Tower. They were still with me or they were with me in rehearsal for other numbers in our studio. So my friend Nikki was there for me, she was with me. My friend Diana, Gianna, who's my dance choreographer on the show. So yeah, those people were there. People from home, Fon's family.
Starting point is 00:51:29 Some of my former students alumni that don't dance professionally, that are moms and have other jobs, they flew out, like at a moment's notice. A friend, Mary Stiletto, her daughter is this logo actually. Oh really? Oh wow. She flew out with, the minute she heard something was wrong. What did that teach you about life and friendship just knowing who is there to support you in
Starting point is 00:51:50 that time? I'm sure there must have been… Yeah, everybody uses everybody I guess. I don't know. I don't know if I was really thinking about that because I was so in and out of it. I would wake up every couple hours and say, oh well thank God it's not cancer. And then I fall back asleep and they, Nikki was like, yeah we've told her ten times that it's cancer and she just keeps saying thank God it's not cancer. So I was like delusional I guess about that. I figured I'd get cancer. My mom died of colon cancer. My dad with the soft-geocancer, but I'm not at 52. My mom was 86. And then being in a wheelchair as well, how did you cope with that? I mean, I'm sure you probably were just used to walking and used to being up and around.
Starting point is 00:52:38 Well, no, I always sat on my ass and taught. So, that was good. I mean, I could do that. And then when everyone started teaching on Zoom, I didn't jump on the bandwagon right away. But then what I did, I thought, oh my God, I can do this. I've been doing this for years. I've got this. Same stuff. Same stuff. Yeah. So, yeah, the chair is handy in the airport. And, you know, when I need to get away quick I get recognized extremely often I mean I can't go three feet well I was thinking about that with you mentioning the airport how do you get through an airport if everybody knows
Starting point is 00:53:12 dance moms and knows your face I take a lot of pictures you do I never really tell a kid now I make them ask themselves though because the mom will say could she have a picture on my… No, she has to ask herself. This episode of Unplanned Podcast is brought to you by Huggies Skin Essentials. Baby butts rejoice! Huggies Skin Essentials are here! New Huggies Skin Essentials are here! A brand new dermatologist approved line of diapers, wipes, and pull ups training pants
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Starting point is 00:54:02 So we made the upgrade. We stopped getting the cheapo diapers, you know, the knockoff brands, and it's been game changing. Let me just tell you that. It's great because Huggies is also affordable, but like you're saying, it really helps prevent diaper rash
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Starting point is 00:55:03 help protect sensitive skin throughout potty training. Learn more at Once again, head to to learn more. In New York City on the street, in Orlando, anywhere, not at the park, just anywhere, not at Target, Walmart, anywhere, the mall, doesn't matter. It's insane. Have you ever had any scary situations where you felt unsafe because of getting snowed during the show? Uh, in the first few years of the show, there was a guy that had my face tattooed on his neck and two other girls faces on his face on his face in prison. Yeah. He was a psycho. What did he get? Did you mean I don't really know anymore about it? There were like detectives involved and a detective had to travel with us on set
Starting point is 00:55:50 Like what to all the competitions to protect Maddie? I think it was that's scary because the show blew up it got huge Did you ever did you and it's huge again? Yeah, it's big again I'm a dude. I'm sitting here looking at you and you look like a Disney princess, but I am a Disney princess I am you know, who who bought the show. Yeah, then Disney bought Hulu and now Now you're the queen somebody called me and said do you know they're the number four show on Disney in the world? And I said what and they were like, yes, it's insane. Do you ever rewatch episodes? Ah For my youtube channel everybody wants those watch back things. I just cannot believe, cannot believe that we put those numbers out there every week.
Starting point is 00:56:33 Crazy. 637 numbers. 600. That's insane. And then some of them didn't air. And I didn't win an Emmy for any of them which kills me that they didn't put them in. I just voted for the Emmys today.
Starting point is 00:56:48 Really? Yes, that's what I was doing here. That's why I couldn't get here earlier because I, yeah. And I noticed you were talking earlier about how, you know, bringing awareness about being in a wheelchair and what that's like at the airport. How is that now that you're aware of what people who have always been in wheelchairs go through, how does that affect your advocacy and what you talk about? Well, yeah, I have a huge court case coming up and some other things that I don't want
Starting point is 00:57:16 to be too vocal about with being an advocate. But as soon as those are over, look out. Look out. Yes, it's nuts. You don't see a lot of handicapped people travel because it's so difficult to travel. Just getting a hotel room with the bathroom you can use. It's awful. And the hotel's, oh yeah, yeah, we're ready to get compliant, blah, blah, blah.
Starting point is 00:57:38 We passed the test. We, yeah. We, we, you know, we have, and I say, did the inspector that came, was he in a chair? And that's kind of like one of the major things you're supposed to do is like go through the room and make sure you can access every single part of it. Yes, and the light switches, the thermostat
Starting point is 00:57:56 to turn the air and everything on. The drapes, can you shut them? Can you get under the bathroom sink? Yeah, they make it sorry You can get under it, but then you can't get over it to brush your teeth Just it's it's hard. It's very difficult to travel very difficult. I'm leaving Wednesday for Prague. I'm going to Prague to judge the Dance World Cup. There's 9,500 kids registered. That is insane. 9,000 kids. I can't take 9,000 pictures. Yes. Yes, it's insane. That's crazy. I go to Frog. I'm there for like 10 or 11
Starting point is 00:58:37 days. And then I go to Scotland. I'm teaching in Edinburgh and Glasgow and then to Liverpool, big dance community there, and then I worked my way up through Brighton and Richmond and back to London. So it sounds like you're super active still as a dance teacher. What are you hoping to accomplish? What are your current goals and… Well, I have a lot of fans in Europe. It's huge. The show's huge there.
Starting point is 00:59:04 And I want to be back on television. There's a new show. There's several new shows. I saw that. What can you tell us about those? Or is it hush hush for now? It's always hush hush. I hate that. I feel like I want to talk about it. It's always hush hush. But then you never, you don't want to jinx it and say something. And then I don't want to get in trouble. I learned my lesson with the law in the contracts and this and that you want it, you know, if you have it Yeah, was there ever an issue where you accidentally spilled something about a show and then someone came came after you for it
Starting point is 00:59:37 No, okay. Okay. Gotcha. Yeah I guess we won't pride too much about the new exciting shows, but it sounds like there's a lot going on. And things going on. There's a Dance Moms-esque show that's pitched right now. I have a season nine show that I shot that's in the can already that's waiting to be edited. And then there's a show that I pitched in Australia that is perfect for there. It could work here.
Starting point is 01:00:07 It could work here. It'd be better there. But the talent is unbelievable in Australia. And they don't have a big outlet. They don't have a West End. They don't have a Broadway. They don't have just cruise ships or whatever their kids can get on instead of big time. So I think the show would do well there.
Starting point is 01:00:25 And then my YouTube channel, do you have a YouTube channel? We do. We do. Is that how you make a living? That is part of it, yes. One of them, this show is also how we pay our bills as well. Yeah, I don't understand that. I'm friends with Jordan Matter and stuff, and I always say, how do they get their money to you?
Starting point is 01:00:42 I don't understand, I just don't get it. I don't get the whole YouTube thing. That's one thing. When we were on the bus traveling with the show, going to the competitions, the bus, the infamous bus, I should have been sitting next to JoJo, learning how to edit the YouTube channel, like to do the videos and do all that.
Starting point is 01:01:02 And I wasn't. You got her phone number. I was sleeping. Yeah, but as a little kid, she was a hustler. videos and do all that. And I wasn't. You got her phone number. I was sleeping. Yeah, but as a little kid, she was a hustler. Like she was doing all that, you know? And I should have been paying attention because I could have had so much behind the scene footage. I was thinking I could have had a camera in my studio
Starting point is 01:01:20 that production would have never known about that captured everything. It was my building. That's crazy. You're right. And I could have had think of the Zoom classes back then when the kids on the show were in the class and you could have had kids on Zoom at home taking class with those kids way before COVID. Oh, yeah. Yeah. I missed the boat on all of that.
Starting point is 01:01:42 That was a huge income. How I explain it to people is like just how Dance moms makes money because there's ads on television. There's ads on YouTube and tick tock and all this platform So that's how creators make money because the platforms do like a rev share, right? Yeah, so I don't know you have to have enough Followers subscribers. Yes, right and I'm like it's 750,000 on my YouTube which is nothing I need 5 million to make it done. I mean that's pretty good.
Starting point is 01:02:07 That's 700,000. That's a lot of people. Like that's three quarters of a million. You can't make money that way. I guess I have a lot of bills. Like I, you know when the show started like the kids are all multimillionaires that were on the show. They all have everything handed to them on a platter.
Starting point is 01:02:20 That Eliana Walmsley, she gets more crap delivered to her every single day. Makeup, hair, everything. She never has to buy anything ever again. Clothes. And I don't get any of that. I guess because I'm controversial. I don't know. But I want makeup.
Starting point is 01:02:36 I'll take it. And- It's coming on the PR list. Yeah. Well, the thing is, when you're 13, 14, you're getting all this stuff. What other 13 and 14-year-olds out there in the world are going to buy $40 lipstick? Yeah. Like, you're getting all this stuff, what other 13 and 14 year olds out there in the world are going to buy $40 lipstick? Like they're not going to buy that. Mommy's not going to buy their 13 year old $40 lipstick because this kid on TV has it. But if I said you need this lipstick
Starting point is 01:02:59 for competition because it's the best and it's this and it's that and it's never going to come off on your costume or anything, everyone would go buy it. True. They would run out there to buy it. So I don't know what these, you know, the advertisers are thinking. I found it so interesting because you said like 750,000. That's not that much. I mean, think about yourself though. 15 years ago, if you knew that your YouTube channel had that many subs, I feel like you would freak out. I know I would if I knew knew what we've been able to do and stuff. So I guess my question is, how do you make sure the goalposts don't always move? Because you've done some big things.
Starting point is 01:03:34 Everybody in the world, you're going to Europe and there's all these young girls that know who you are. How do you keep yourself satisfied and content? You don't. Oh, you don't? You're never never satisfied. Okay, you're never content Really, you know, well, I think as a dancer you Continue to strive for perfection and you never achieve it and that's what keeps you going You know you you always
Starting point is 01:03:58 Well, I guess especially in dance in my world. it's a constantly changing art form. You know, there's no Picasso. It's never gonna be that. It's gonna constantly be changing and upping the game. And I have to stay on top of my craft, always. How are you happy then? Like, where do you find, do you find moments of happiness?
Starting point is 01:04:18 I'm just thinking, I'm ever happy! She's like, that's the problem. Do you feel like you have this desire, though, to always, you know, be- Yes, it's that competitive edge. Yeah, that's the problem. Do you feel like you have this desire though to always, you know, be competitive? Yeah, that competitive energy. And so does, do you ever? I'm grateful along the way. I'm very grateful. And unlike the girls on the show, it was, you know, toxic.
Starting point is 01:04:39 And I don't know where they get all that because it was just as toxic for me. I was the one fighting with the producers all the time for them on their behalf, for better music, fighting for better costumes, fighting for longer time to have them, fighting for better routines. Like I did that constantly. It was constant fight.
Starting point is 01:04:56 Every Tuesday we got the music and I was like, nope, not doing this. I got their crazy cockamamie theme that they wanted to do. I'm like, no one's gonna get that. It's a two minute routine on stage. We're not gonna get all that movie that you saw 10 years ago that you wanna recreate. We're not getting that.
Starting point is 01:05:11 Stop, this is what we're doing. It was a constant fight battle. So you didn't get full creative control over the songs? Nothing, no! I had to fight with them every weekend about something. Every week, every Tuesday, all night long. You can see emails three in the morning, five in the morning, fighting all night long to You can see emails three in the morning, five in the morning, like fighting all night long
Starting point is 01:05:26 to get to do what I could put on the stage. It wasn't even what I wanted. It was just something that we could actually put out there that would work. Try getting costumes in Pittsburgh. Is that still something that you deal with, with the current shows you're on, where you're trying to work things out with the producers,
Starting point is 01:05:42 or are they a lot more lax now? Well, no, now I have a lot more control and a lot more people to run and do things for you. Got it. That get it, that know what you're looking for. Sometimes I just have to see it. Like I have to be downtown LA in the fashion district running around trying to find something
Starting point is 01:06:00 and I'll know it when I see it. Like a certain dress or a certain thing or whatever, you know, but otherwise you can, and the internet is so much more, you know, available now to order things and get things overnight. And now I won't have a production assistant intercepting the packages and hiding them from us. Like we never got the costumes. They used to do that.
Starting point is 01:06:22 All kind of crap like that. Where can people find you and connect with you online? Oh, thank you. Well, I'm at The Real Abby Lee on Instagram. Plus, the Pittsburgh has their own account, ALDC Studio Pittsburgh and ALDC Studio LA. Follow those because all the kids, you know, like the stuff that's happening. My YouTube is at The Real Abby Lee Miller. The podcast is leave it on the dance floor and You can find me in Santa Monica at the beach sometimes TV and Europe do not watch the old show we do not get residuals Reality TV does not get any residuals. We do not get residuals. Stop watching the show over and over. There's a whole channel
Starting point is 01:07:05 now that's me 24 hours a day. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It's Dance Moms. Really? But not even the Disney stuff? Nothing. With all the reruns? You're kidding. Oh, are you kidding? I would be sitting pretty right now. I would not have to work. Would you be here right now? I wouldn't be here right now.
Starting point is 01:07:22 So, wait, okay, so if you were- I'd be getting a face facial or a massage or something. If you were getting residuals from Dance Moms, yeah, like, would you have moved out of the US, gone to the Bahamas and just been on the beach? Where would you be? Yeah, no, I don't know if I'd move out of the US, but I definitely have a place in Manhattan. Okay. And, yeah, and a much bigger, bigger, bigger, bigger, beautiful home in Florida.
Starting point is 01:07:42 I'm currently looking for houses in Florida, but I need a big house, like five bedroom. I need a big house. I know you've been doing some different charity work as well. What are the charities that you're really passionate about? So I'm involved with this chef that owns a restaurant in up towards Anaheim, right? And he feeds 500 kids a day, every single day.
Starting point is 01:08:08 feeds 500 kids a day, every single day. And then Dancers Against Cancer. Yes, I was going to ask about that. Dancers Against Cancer is a huge organization. It's getting bigger and bigger and they are wonderful. Jojo Siwa showed up with a $10,000 check when I was in the hospital. Very cool. Very cool. Very cool. Very cool She's now on the board of directors and in October
Starting point is 01:08:29 There's a big event that they do every year and I'm gonna be able to give back my $10,000 nice to the organization. Hopefully with some interest. Yes. Well, you guys heard Abby Lee you can find her on YouTube Instagram She's on all sort of shows Go watch her new show, because apparently she doesn't make money on the old stuff. But, yes. Stop watching the old reruns. You're making them much, much wealthier
Starting point is 01:08:53 than they need to be.

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