Ariana Grande discusses child star experience: 'We’re reprocessing our relationship to it'

The singer and actress starred in Nickelodeon's "Victorious" as a 15-year-old.

June 12, 2024, 12:43 PM

Ariana Grande opened up about her views on childhood acting, reflecting on her years as a teen star while starting her career as Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon's "Victorious" and "Sam & Cat" as a teenager.

"We feel so privileged to have been able to create those roles and be a part of something that was so special for a lot of young kids," she said, adding "I think we're reprocessing our relationship to it a little bit now." Grande made the comments on an episode of "Podcrushed" with her recent music video co-star Penn Badgley posted on Wednesday.

The "eternal sunshine" star advocated for increased safety measures to be taken in the present day for child stars.

Ariana Grande attends the 96th Annual Academy Awards, March 10, 2024, in Hollywood, Calif.
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images, FILE

"I think that the environment needs to be made safer if kids are going to be acting," Grande said. "I think there should be therapists, I think there should be parents allowed to be wherever they want to be."

The "Wicked" star said she felt the mental health considerations should be taken for all sorts of entertainment stars, not just child actors.

"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…there should be in the contract something about therapy is mandatory," she said.

Grande discussed the need to support survivors who have come forward recently to discuss hardships as young stars.

In this March 29, 2014 file photo, Ariana Grande arrives at the Nickelodeon's 27th Annual Kids' Choice Awards at USC Galen Center in Los Angeles.
Steve Granitz/WireImage via Getty Images, FILE

"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," Grande said.

Her comments come after the "Quiet on Set," docuseries which alleges inappropriate behavior as part of a toxic work environment fostered during Nickelodeon's heyday, shined a new spotlight on the potential for exploitation of child stars.

Of the claims of a hostile work environment, Nickelodeon previously told ABC News that while it "cannot corroborate or negate allegations of behaviors from productions decades ago, Nickelodeon as a matter of policy investigates all formal complaints as part our commitment to fostering a safe and professional workplace environment free of harassment or other kinds of inappropriate conduct," adding that it has "adopted numerous safeguards over the years to help ensure we are living up to own high standards and the expectations of our audience."

During the podcast, Grande mentioned feeling uncomfortable revisiting certain plot lines from "Victorious," touching on accusations from the docuseries that inappropriate innuendos were baked into the show.

"We were convinced [that] was the cool thing about us — is that we pushed the envelope with our humor," Grande said. "And the innuendos were ... it was, like, the cool differentiation. And I don't know, I think it just all happened so quickly and now looking back on some of the clips I'm like, 'Damn, really?'"

Badgley, who also began his career as a teenager, agreed with Grande and offered his own thoughts.

"We point the finger a lot and fail to often remember this behavior is prevalent… it's a norm."

Grande and Badgley agreed that the culture is changing to grow more understanding of these experiences.

"It's changing and I think that's a really nice place to see the world," she said.