Can Kenzie Ziegler Go From Child Star To Pop Star


Can Kenzie Ziegler Go From Child Star To Pop Star

Two weeks ago, Kenzie Ziegler shared a video with her 18 million TikTok followers.

Like a lot of the site’s most popular clips, it saw the teenager lip-syncing to a song she’d discovered on the “For You” tab.

In this case, the track was Doja Cat’s Cyber Sex – except the rapper’s vocals had been replaced by a soundbite of a young child saying, “I just cry sometimes, it’s no big deal”.

“If you all didn’t know,” wrote Ziegler in the video caption, “this is my voice, lmao.”

The sample was lifted from an episode of the US reality series Dance Moms, which luridly documented the tantrums and triumphs of a group of pre-teen dancers in Pennsylvania.

Ziegler was just six when she started filming the show with her elder sister Maddie (who went on to star in Sia’s videos for Chandelier and Cheap Thrills).

In an early episode, she broke down in tears while rehearsing a routine, telling her mum, “I can’t do it, mom, I’m not ready”.

Dance instructor Abby Lee Miller pulled the youngster out of the studio and delivered a harsh lecture on professionalism.

“Listen to me, you cannot act like this and cry,” she scolded. “People don’t want to work with kids who are difficult.”

Ziegler recovered her composure after being given a new dance partner and, after pulling off the routine flawlessly, she addressed the camera with a shrug and created a meme.

“I just cry sometimes, it’s no big deal”.

The phrase has been printed on t-shirts and circulated as a Gif for years – but its resurgence on TikTok took Ziegler by surprise.

“It’s so crazy,” she tells the BBC on a Zoom call from her family home in Pittsburgh. “I mean my whole childhood was filmed, and my whole life is on screen. It’s definitely been a learning experience.”

‘I was over it’

Looking back, she realises that Abby Lee’s speech (which was ultimately more about protecting her own reputation than her pupil’s) was not an appropriate way to speak to a six-year-old.

“Definitely not,” says Ziegler. “But dance teachers are always very strict on kids, so I just learned to take it.

“But in the last few years I was on it [Dance Moms], I just didn’t take crap from anyone. I was so bossy and I would talk back and I would get in so much trouble… but I wasn’t very competitive.

“I wanted to dance for fun, and everyone else wanted to compete, so I was just over it. I was like, ‘I’m just gonna dance and have fun and you can yell at me if you want.'”

Her elder sister emerged as Dance Moms’ breakout star, but Kenzie hasn’t exactly been short of opportunities herself. At the age of 16, her CV is already longer than most adults.

She acts in the teen drama series Total Eclipse, on which she’s also an executive producer; starred in a stage production of Wizard of Oz; been the runner-up in the US version of Strictly Come Dancing; written a best-selling self-help book and launched a cosmetics line. But the teenager’s “first love and main focus” is music.

Arsenal F.C.

Her first album came out when she was nine under the pseudonym Mack Z. It is not a classic debut, by any means. Songs like It’s A Girl Party and I Gotta Dance have the subtlety and charm of being shot in the face by a glitter cannon; and Ziegler’s voice is forced through an effects box marked “erase all traces of humanity”.

“I was so auto-tuned it sounds nothing like me,” laughs the singer.

“I didn’t really want to do that record… I wasn’t writing my music at all. It was just like, I don’t know, something to do.”

Can Kenzie Ziegler Go From Child Star To Pop Star


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