If you follow the hit reality show Dance Moms, you’ll know Abby Lee Miller. The show has been on television for 7 seasons now, its first episode hitting the air on Lifetime in 2011, and Abby’s attitude is one of the more divisive parts of the show.
For those of you who don’t know, Dance Moms follows the training of children into the world of dancing and show business. They are taught by Miller, who is a dance instructor with a no-nonsense approach to tutoring the kids. The show also focuses on the behind-the-scenes interactions between her and the children.
Set in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with some shoots in L.A, the show is primarily filmed at the Abby Lee Dance Company studios, of which Miller is the owner and chief choreographer. She made a name for herself by having a harsh love approach to the children, leaving many in tears. However, in an interview with ABC
, she spoke of a deeper emotional connection:
“I have spent so much time and so much energy making other people’s children stars. I didn’t have any children of my own. These were my kids, I raised them like they were my kids.”
The show also launched the career Maddie Ziegler, a former student of Miller’s. Ziegler best known for being Sia’s protégé. The singer found her after the show and ended up featuring her in a number of music videos.
In 2010, Miller filed for bankruptcy to help reorganise the Abby Lee Dance Company, which clawed its way out of bankruptcy in 2013. The problem was that between 2012 and 2013, her influx of money from the TV show wasn’t all above board.
Taken to court, the 50-year-old ended up pleading guilty to concealing around $775,000 in income during this period. She was ordered to pay a $40,000 fine, as well as forfeit $120,000, which is said to have been transported from locations such as the UK without disclosure.
In March, she was replaced by Dancing with the Stars’ Cheryl Burke, and that’s when things went from bad to worse. Miller has been sentenced to spend a year in prison by the federal judge for bankruptcy, fraud, and concealing money earned abroad.
“I wasn’t trying to hurt anyone,” she told Good Morning America.
She broke down into tears and promised to be a “smarter businesswoman”, insisting she didn’t commit any crimes intentionally. Now she has 43 days to turn herself in and start her sentence. After 10 months she can move into a halfway house for the last two months.
When talking to E! News
, Abby said that she believes her fame is a primary reason for her punishment. She claims that if she had not been a TV celebrity she would not have been pursued to the same level: “I have been told by many people in the judicial system that had I not been on a TV show I would’ve maybe gotten a letter in the mail.”
The response from those involved in Dance Moms has been mixed. US Weekly reported
that most of the cast and crew of the show aren’t too sad to see her go.
In fact, their insider explained that many of them think she deserves her sentence: “They do not like Abby,” the anonymous source said, “Many actually think she deserves a bigger sentence.”
Others, like student Elliana Walmsley, were sad to see her go. After she heard the news, Elliana took to Instagram
to show her support for her instructor:
When asked how she’s going to cope with prison, Miller said she is going to pretend she’s “shooting a movie and we’re on set and I’m there for 10 months and that’s the way it’s going to be”. And she doesn’t plan on wasting the time she spends there either. Miller has intentions to read, learn Spanish and start writing her next book.