Maddie Ziegler, the 15-year-old dance sensation, is proud to be a role model and to have a voice

(Artwork by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)
(Artwork by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

Maddie Ziegler first gained media attention when she appeared on the popular reality TV series Dance Moms at just 8 years old. But three years later, she became a full-fledged performer when she starred in the music video for Sia’s hit song “Chandelier.” Now, at 15 years old, Ziegler is dancing, acting, producing the show We Love Your Genes, and working as a philanthropist. She believes that Generation Z is already changing the world with its powerful voices and social media presence.

Name: Madison Nicole Ziegler

Age: 15

Favorite App: I would say Instagram.

What she does: Dancing. I started when I was 2 years old. I came offstage from my first dance recital when I was like 3, and I cried because I wanted to go back onstage so badly. I would do anything to go back onstage. So my mom was like, “OK, I think she likes it.” I started competing at 5 years old. I was the worst one in my group, and I wanted to be the best. So I worked really, really hard every single day to become the lead dancer.

Three words that define Gen Z: I would say empowering, I would say self aware, and charitable. Our generation is really taking over.

What she wishes older people understood about Gen Z: People think, “Oh, social media is all they care about. They only care about the way they look or their appearance,” or they think we’re brats or spoiled. But really, I think we’re just trying to pave the way for kids our age and speak out about what we believe in. A couple of years ago, I never would have thought that I would have a voice or be able to be an inspiration to a lot of kids. I think adults don’t understand that we’re just trying to get our message through.

How she thinks Gen Z will change the world: I think it already has changed the world a little bit. I think we must continue doing what we believe in, like charities, marches, and things like that. I think us being able to [speak out] on topics right now, like gun violence, those things are really important. If we all come together and use our love for things, and not our hate, then I think we will take over the world.

Her greatest accomplishment, so far: I think being a role model to kids. Obviously I’m grateful for how far I’ve come in the dance world, and now acting, and my clothing line and other stuff like that, but being a role model is the best part of what I do, only because I wouldn’t be here without the people who have supported me. Now little girls come up to me, and they’re like, “I started dancing because of you.” And that’s the weirdest and coolest feeling because I don’t know how I did that. Why me? I’m not that cool. It’s really amazing and inspiring that people think of me as a role model.

What she’ll be doing 10 or 20 years from now: I hope I’m doing the same thing — but just evolved and better. And possibly I want to have a makeup line. I’m obsessed with makeup; I love makeup so much. I just want to continue doing what I’m doing and inspiring others. Acting is a huge thing for me, and I want to really get into that more. It’s cool that people are recognizing me not just for dance now, because I will always be a dancer at heart, and that will always be my number one thing in life. I’m obsessed with dance — I’ll never lose that. But it’s cool that I’m able to do other things as well and be known for those too.