"Zoey 101" Star Matthew Underwood Said He Quit Acting After He Was Sexually Harassed And Assaulted By His Agent At 19 Years Old

"Zoey 101" Star Matthew Underwood Said He Quit Acting After He Was Sexually Harassed And Assaulted By His Agent At 19 Years Old
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Note: This post mentions sexual assault.

Zoey 101 star Matthew Underwood opened up about the reason he quit acting.

Matthew in a jacket and shirt standing at the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards
Mark Von Holden / Variety via Getty Images

He joins a number of former child actors who've spoken out since the premiere of Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, which exposed the allegedly toxic and abusive culture at Nickelodeon. The docuseries largely centered on Dan Schneider, who created hit shows like The Amanda Show and Drake & Josh.

Cast of The Amanda Show posing together
Nickelodeon Network/ Courtesy Everett Collection

In an Instagram post, Matthew wrote, "When I was 19, I was sexually harassed and then assaulted by my agent at the time, who had spent a decent amount of time building trust with me as a friend and mentor."

Matthew smiling at an event while wearing a casual crewneck t-shirt
Kristian Dowling / Getty Images

"My trust was betrayed and my self-image was crushed. I reported him to the agency and he has since been fired — although he is still active in the industry. This experience provoked my move away from LA and ended my pursuit of acting."

Matthew with curly hair wearing a shirt and leather jacket
John M. Heller / Getty Images

The 33-year-old shared that people have been "blowing up" his email and sending hateful messages because he did not speak out in the weeks following Quiet on Set.

"I imagine many of my friends in the business are being equally harassed if they aren’t joining in the chorus. So I’m sharing this with hope that some of you can recognize that just because a person doesn’t shout from the rooftops that pedophiles are bad or that people can suck — that does not mean they don’t have their own reasons for staying silent, good reasons, personal reasons."

Matthew and Victoria Justice posing together at an event, both are smiling at the camera
Malcolm Ali / WireImage / Getty Images

Matthew, who played Logan Reese on Zoey 101 from 2005 to 2008, recalled a different experience than many others in the docuseries. "I never had a bad experience working on set of a Nickelodeon show, and I never had a bad experience with Dan," he wrote. "I have nothing to add to the conversation that anyone would care to hear. I like to believe people have the capacity to be better humans, and Dan appears to recognize that he had been an asshole in his past. I like to believe he is fully capable of being a creator and coworker everyone can enjoy working with."

Seven cast members of Zoey 101 posing together on a set with colorful backgrounds and modern furniture
Nickelodeon Network / ©Nickelodeon Network/Courtesy Everett Collection

"Please stop wishing death upon my family, and please reconsider harassing other actors who wish to maintain their privacy — you never know who has already been a victim of the hell you’re wishing upon them," he concluded.

Matthew posing on the Kids' Choice Awards backdrop, wearing a jacket over a striped sweater
Phillip Faraone / Getty Images for Nickelodeon

In the caption, he wrote, "We all want to live in a better world. That requires all of us to treat each other with empathy and not make assumptions about people’s personal experiences. We’re all feeling pain right now, and I can understand if you are angry, but harassing people who maintain their privacy and wishing death upon their families is no way to make this world better and safer for all of us. #QuietOnSet."

Nickelodeon released a statement to BuzzFeed regarding alleged behavior on past production sets:

"Though we cannot corroborate or negate allegations of behaviors from productions decades ago, Nickelodeon as a matter of policy investigates all formal complaints as part of our commitment to fostering a safe and professional workplace environment free of harassment or other kinds of inappropriate conduct. Our highest priorities are the well-being and best interests not just of our employees, casts and crew, but of all children, and we have adopted numerous safeguards over the years to help ensure we are living up to our own high standards and the expectations of our audience."

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here. If you are concerned that a child is experiencing or may be in danger of abuse, you can call or text the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 (4.A.CHILD); service can be provided in over 140 languages.