Looking back! Maddie and Kenzie Ziegler have a lot of memories from their Dance Moms‘ days.

The dynamic dancing duo chatted with J-14 exclusively while promoting their “Take 20 with Maddie and Kenzie Ziegler” podcast, and recalled the “crazy” fame that came immediately after the reality show premiered on Lifetime in July 2011.

“I started when I was 6 years old, so I had no idea what was happening. I didn’t know why a camera man was following me. I just didn’t understand the whole thing,” Kenzie, 17, shared. “I feel like it started to get more real when we would go to the mall and kids would say our names. I remember we would — the first time someone said our names, we looked at each other and we were like, ‘How do they know us? This is so weird. We’ve never met them before.’ Then it was just crazy after that.”

The sisters appeared on Dance Moms for six seasons until departing from the show. When discussing their start in Hollywood, Maddie, 19, said that the best part of doing the reality show was “being together all the time.”

“We had such a great time with all of us girls. I feel, like, even when we were tutoring together — we’d do school together every day — it was really fun,” the West Side Story star said. “But I would say, obviously, the worst part is just, the competitive nature is not fun. We’re so happy we’re out of that now, because now there’s no negativity around our lives.”

Kenzie added that her favorite part about the show occurred when the cameras stopped rolling and they were “running around the dance studio” and “running around the competitions.”

“All of the crew members were our best friends and it was just the most fun thing,” the “Donuts” songstress said. “I remember I would, like, sell rocks on the bus. I would paint them and sell them.”

Since then, Maddie and Kenzie have kicked off successful solo careers in Hollywood, having starred in multiple TV shows, movies and, for Kenzie, launching a music career. The siblings have learned a lot about themselves while growing up in the public eye, but one thing they wished they knew beforehand was to “trust your gut and don’t listen to everyone’s opinions around you.”

“I feel like, and Kenzie could speak on this more than I could, but people have a lot to say and sometimes the comments can be really negative and people’s opinions can be really negative. It’s really easy to focus on those rather than the good, but now, I’ve just started to like really try and put myself first and trust myself and my intuition,” Maddie explained. “I feel like that’s helped me along the way that I, kind of, wish I knew when I was younger, to not let all of that get to you and go on your own path and figure it out on your own.”

With their podcast, “Take 20 with Maddie and Kenzie Ziegler,” the sisters are hoping to bring this advice to listeners and fans.

“We are a lot [more] similar to a lot of our listeners than they might think,” Maddie explained. “That’s, kind of, the reason we wanted to do this in the first place. People assume that our lives are just grand all the time, and we have all these amazing things going on, but we also deal with things like anxiety and a lot of mental health things. We wanted to open up about that to just share that we are also teenagers growing up in the spotlight and we just happened to be caught on camera. But a lot of our struggles are similar.”

New episodes of “Take 20 with Maddie and Kenzie Ziegler” are available via all podcast platforms every Monday. 

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