15 Minutes with Abby Lee Miller
The new "Dance Moms" season is in full swing. The kids are dancing, while The Moms' attitudes are raging. If you are unfamiliar with the show, Dance Moms is a docu-series that uniquely captures the dynamic interplay among teacher, student and parent as dance studio owner, Abby Lee Miller, commits herself to bring out the best in her students – and their mothers – willing to dedicate themselves to be part of one of the best dance teams in the nation.
I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Abby a few weeks ago.
I went into this interview with an open mind. I have watched her on the show and sometimes she seems, well, abrasive. I wasn't sure what to expect. Would she be loud and obnoxious, or would I actually like her? Was she really like the Abby we see on TV, or was that all for show?
I know that reality TV isn't all reality. We often only see the "worst and best moments." When I met Abby, she was on the set of Drop Dead Diva, filming for an upcoming guest role. We met off-set, in a busy area where the sound team was working. I was apprehensive and not quite sure what I was going to ask. The interview was going to be succinct; we only had a few minutes in between filming.
When I was introduced to Abby, she immediately put her hand out to mine. My first thought: she was much prettier in person than she appeared on TV. She was much softer than I imagined. I immediately knew I would like her. She has a great personality and had no problems answering my questions.
I didn't pull any punches. I started with the tough question first.
How do you deal with the drama? Are these Moms unique, or have you seen this in the past?
Abby: I have been dealing with drama for 32 years. It is something that is always present. I could easily replace these four Moms with another four Moms and have the same drama. I could look back over the years and find a Mom who is the same as the current Moms I deal with.
When do you recommend parents involve their child in serious dancing?
Abby: I recommend five. Before that, they usually aren't interested, or ready. However, if they have an older sibling, they may be able to start earlier.
Tell me 3 words to describe The Dance Moms.
Abby: (Abby Laughs). (I say be honest.) Naive, overbearing, cheap.
Tell me words to describe yourself.
Abby: (Abby Laughs). (I say be honest again.) Opinionated, bossy, humorous.
Can an overbearing parent ruin a dancer's career?
Abby: There is a fine line between being helpful and concerned - and trying to live vicariously through your child. When parents start questioning authority and being dubbed difficult to work with, it can impact a child's dance career.
Can a supportive parent make a difference in a dancer's career?
Abby: Yes. A child can have all the talent in the world, but without a parent to drive it and seek out info, they may not succeed. Parents must seek out good info and use it.
I spent more than my allotted time with Abby, because I really enjoyed talking to her.
By the end of interview, I decided that Abby wasn't just about the drama with The Moms. She definitely had strong feelings about dancing and her studio. However, she genuinely cares about her dancers. Sure, she has her moments, but don't we all? I know that if my life was taped 24/7, I could have a string of footage that made me look obnoxious.
I had one last question for Abby (after we took a few photos).
If your life was made into a Lifetime movie, what would it be called?
Abby: Hmmm. I Hope It Mattered That I Was. I just hope I made an impact.
Watch full episodes online and tune in for new episodes on Tuesdays at 9/8c on Lifetime.