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Long-time fans of Maddie Ziegler know that she’s used to bringing stories to life. Though she got her start on the hit reality TV show, Dance Moms, the dancer’s ability to play characters and use her emotions to tell stories has helped her find mainstream success. These days, Ziegler is exploring storytelling through other mediums. She’s still dancing, but she’s also pursuing a career in acting.

One of Ziegler’s most recent roles is her portrayal of Mia Reed in The Fallout. The West Side Story actor certainly had to use her emotionality in the coming-of-age drama. The film, which was recently released on HBO Max, follows Vada Cavell as she copes with the aftermath of a fatal school shooting. Ziegler’s character, Mia, serves as a pillar of support and friendship for Vada.

The Fallout star Maddie Ziegler
‘The Fallout’ cast member Maddie Ziegler | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

How Maddie Ziegler prepared for her role in ‘The Fallout’

While Ziegler may be used to handling stories with darker themes through dance, her experience as an actor is more limited. So just how the former reality TV star approach bringing the shy and mysterious Mia to life? In an interview with NYLON, she got candid about her preparation process for The Fallout.

“A lot of research,” Ziegler shared about her approach. “I looked up a lot of articles of tragedies that happened at other schools and also just really just put myself in Mia’s shoes and tried to be as present as possible.”

The ‘Dance Moms’ alum and Jenna Ortega found a very unique energy with one another

Part of being present was feeding off of the energy her scene partner was giving. Fortunately, Ziegler and Jenna Ortega (who plays Vada in The Fallout cast) were able to find a groove pretty instantaneously. “When I started doing my scenes with Jenna, we instantly were kind of able to take each other to that spot and find this really intense depth within the characters and this unsettled feeling,” Ziegler recalled.


Maddie Ziegler Was ‘in Shock’ Watching Jenna Ortega: ‘She’s Perfect’

While she was filming The Fallout, Ziegler also took great care to remind herself about the overarching theme of the movie. That, she revealed, really helped her make informed character choices throughout the course of filming.

Ziegler gets candid about the main takeaways from ‘The Fallout’

“Most importantly, this movie really shows how important healing is from trauma and how trauma bonds a lot of people whether that be from a tragedy like this or something completely unrelated,” Ziegler shared. “Everyone’s feelings are valid and very much so you can see between my character and Jenna’s character that it’s OK to lean on someone and that’s where I found all the inspiration for my character and tried to take it there the best I could.”

Clearly, Ziegler put a lot of thought into her role in The Fallout. We’re sure her loyal fans are interested to see what acting projects she takes on in the future.