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Ariana Grande Breaks Silence On “Quiet On Set” Docuseries, Child Acting On Nickelodeon

In the first part of her podcast episode on Podcrushed, hosted by Penn Badgley, Sophie Ansari, and Nava Kavelin; guest Ariana Grande speaks out about recontextualizing her career as a child actor. Following a run on Broadway’s 13: The Musical at 15 years old, she earned the role of Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon’s Victorious, a Schnieder’s Bakery production. Grande acted on the show for 4 seasons before getting her own spinoff show, alongside iCarly’s Jennette McCurdy, Sam & Cat.

Ariana Grande Breaks Silence On “Quiet On Set” Docuseries, Child Acting On Nickelodeon
Ariana Grande for Podcrushed | Image Courtesy of Podcrushed

“I think that the environment needs to be made safer if kids are going to be acting, and I think there should be therapists. I think there should be parents allowed to be wherever they want to be. And I think, not only on kids’ sets. I think if anyone wants to do this, or music, or anything at the level of exposure that it means to be on TV or to do music with a major label or whatever, there should be in the contract something about “therapy is mandatory twice a week,” or “thrice a week,” or something like that.

“I was actually talking to Max Martin about this the other day, because he was always such an amazing person to talk to about the stressful parts of what I was experiencing, but a lot of people don’t have the support that they need to get through performing at that level at such a young age. But, also dealing with some of the things that the survivors who have come forward [have said], and there’s not a word for how devastating that is to hear about.

“And so, I think the environment just needs to be made a lot safer all around. And like I said, I’m still in real-time reprocessing my relationship to it. But, um, yeah, the beautiful thing about it was that Liz [Gillies] and I got to fall in love with these characters that we created and learn what it feels like to be so in a character that you can’t, you know, separate yourself from it. And there were things like that, but, yeah, the rest of it is still being worked on.”

After Badgley corroborates his empathetic perspective growing up as an actor, Grande continues, stressing that this alleged behavior is true for all work environments, making it a complicated matter.

“I’m sorry, it’s really tricky because also, you and I, if I’ve gathered anything from our time together and from today, from this, from just knowing you, it’s… we’re so professional. 

“I’m glad that this conversation is happening here, and also in the world, because it’s also just kind of a cultural shift that’s happening, where it’s not just actors and singers and whatever. If you ask anyone who’s ever worked, ever, if they’ve ever been sort of like, you know, dealt with a boss that had a really bad ego and temper and whatever, or if they’ve been sexually harassed, or even assaulted. It’s everywhere.”

BADGLEY: “Statistically, it’s prevalent. It’s prevalent. We point the finger a lot and fail to often remember, like, this behavior is prevalent.”

“Yeah, we’re used to–we’re told–it’s normal. And it’s changing, and I think that’s a really nice place to see the world in unison, standing in a place where we’re like, that’s changing. That’s unacceptable.”

Ariana Grande Breaks Silence On “Quiet On Set” Docuseries, Child Acting On Nickelodeon
Nava Kavelin, Penn Badgley, Ariana Grande, and Sophie Ansari for Podcrushed | Image Courtesy of Podcrushed

Grande finishes this first half of the interview by talking about a resurfaced clip broadcast on the 2024 docuseries Quiet On Set: The Dark Side Of Kids TV, where she was sexualized without her knowledge in a comedy skit in the character of Cat. Kavelin pushes the conversation further with her point of view of recognizing the relationships child actors have with adults.

KAVELIN: “What’s worse in the film industry maybe, or more amplified, is like a spirit of adult behavior towards children. What I’ve gathered from interviewing a lot of our guests who started as children, is that there’s like two phenomena that are common. One is like infantilizing people, treating people who aren’t children like children; and then treating children like adults, like expecting adult behavior from them, or acting in ways around them. Like, letting children be exposed to things that they’re not developmentally ready for.”

GRANDE: “Yeah, and there’s also a strange pattern that occurs where it’s really taken advantage of how much it means to the young performer to get a laugh from Video Village. [BADGLEY: “Video Village, we should say, is where all of the producers and the director are watching the monitors of what’s being captured on camera.”] You’re like, “Oh, I’m doing something great, like this is funny, this is good.

“So it’s interesting because I think, speaking specifically about our show, I think that was something that we were convinced was, like, the cool thing about us, is that we pushed the envelope with our humor. The innuendos were like—we were told and convinced as well—that it was the cool differentiation. And, um, I don’t know, I think it just all happened so quickly, and now looking back on some of the clips, I’m like, “That’s… damn, like really?” You know, you think about it, it’s like, would I, if I had a daughter?”

KAVELIN: “The craziest part of that is like how many people have to approve it. Like, when you start working in—”

GRANDE: “Oh, so many adults!”

KAVELIN: “So many adults approved that! So it’s like there’s no spirit of responsibility towards children, there’s a spirit of like a bottom line, a financial bottom line, you know?”

GRANDE: “There is a bottom line. And then the things that weren’t approved for the network were snuck onto our website, or whatever it was. That is another discovery, but if I’m going into it, I guess I’m upset.”

Grande joined this episode of Podcrushed after inviting Badgley for her “The Boy Is Mine” music video, which released last Friday. The singer-actress is set to release three more music videos from her seventh album eternal sunshine in the near future, and is starring alongside Cynthia Erivo in Jon M. Chu’s Wicked, out November 27. The soundtrack of the film will also release around that date, adding to Grande’s discography. Badgley next appears in the final season of Netflix’s You.

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Based in Chicago, Illinois. An aspiring singer and director, Bhargav is currently pursuing his undergrad in Marketing, Information & Decision Sciences, and Film in Chicago. Since co-founding Feature First, Bhargav focuses on industry analyses, box office reports, quality movie reviews, and helping maintain consumer engagement across all social platforms.