Ariana Grande Breaks Her Silence on “Quiet on Set”

Ariana Grande has broken her silence on the horrific docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, which exposed allegations that adults working on shows for the Nickelodeon network had engaged in inappropriate and abusive sexual conduct involving child actors for years.

The singer and actor was among the stars at the center of Quiet on Set, whose five episodes were released on Max and Discovery+ earlier this spring. The docuseries explored disturbing scenes that seemed to sexualize young Nickelodeon actors. It included scenes from Victorious and its spin-off Sam & Cat in which Grande, then in her early teens, was filmed sticking her finger down her throat, licking her own toes, and suggestively squirting water on her face while in bed, among other things.

Quiet on Set zoomed in on Nickelodeon dialogue coach and convicted sex offender Brian Peck, as well as longtime Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider, the creator of both Victorious and Sam & Cat.

Grande appeared on Gossip Girl actor Penn Badgley’s podcast Podcrushed and candidly addressed the docuseries in an episode released today.

“Obviously, my relationship to [child acting] has, and is currently, and has been changing. I’m reprocessing a lot of what the experience was like,” she told Badgley and his co-hosts. “I think that the environment needs to be made safer if kids are going to be acting.”

Grande noted that child and teen actors will often do just about anything to get a good laugh out of viewers, or to make a scene stand out. But re-watching some of her Nickelodeon scenes now, she said, she has a different opinion about how she acted—and how she was instructed to act by her adult bosses.

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

Grande added: “The things that weren’t approved for the network were snuck onto, like, our website or whatever it was. That is another discovery. Going into it, I guess I’m upset.”

Elsewhere in the talk, the Wicked star said many child actors don’t have the support they need when they enter the industry at such a young age, and that the stories she has heard from survivors of sexual abuse and misconduct are “devastating.”

“I think there should be therapists. I think there should be parents allowed to be wherever they want to be,” Grande said. “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.”

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Rosa Sanchez is the senior news editor at Harper’s Bazaar, working on news as it relates to entertainment, fashion, and culture. Previously, she was a news editor at ABC News and, prior to that, a managing editor of celebrity news at American Media. She has also written features for Rolling Stone, Teen Vogue, Forbes, and The Hollywood Reporter, among other outlets.