‘Zoey 101’ Alum Alexa Nikolas Responds to Dan Schneider’s Apology and Says “It’s Pretty Scary Looking Back”

Zoey 101 alum Alexa Nikolas, one of the Nickelodeon stars featured in Investigation Discovery’s Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV, has responded to Dan Schneider’s commentary on the docuseries.

In a video shared this week to her YouTube page for Eat Predators, a movement created by Nikolas to end predatory behavior in the entertainment industry, the former child star reacted to Schneider voicing regret about his actions as a boss. Schneider served as producer and showrunner of various Nickelodeon shows including All ThatThe Amanda ShowDrake & Josh and Zoey 101.

More from The Hollywood Reporter

Nikolas was 12 when she was cast on Zoey 101. She exited after two seasons in 2006, following what she describes below as a blowup from Schneider after the actress asked for him to mediate in her fraught dynamic with the series’ star, Jamie Lynn Spears.

“Watching over the past two nights was very difficult, [with] me facing my past behaviors — some of which are embarrassing and I regret, and I definitely owe some people a pretty strong apology,” Schneider had said during his 19-minute sit-down chat with BooG!E, who played T-Bo on iCarly, in response to the Quiet on Set allegations. The video followed up a statement released earlier by a rep for Schneider that said in part, “Everything that happened on the shows Dan ran was carefully scrutinized by dozens of involved adults, and approved by the network.”

In her video, Nikolas said, “He’s embarrassed?”

She continued, “I’m sorry, him centering what he feels is bizarre to me. It’s like you literally … you are awful! To be quite honest with you, awful. You’re embarrassed? Not embarrassed enough! Not embarrassed enough to go reach out to the people you actually harmed.

“I’m going to cut to the chase here: You don’t feel anything, Dan. You have no idea what accountability is. You’re searching for it, maybe, but you haven’t landed on it. That’s for sure. This is not the way.”

One of her former Zoey 101 co-stars, Jack Salvatore, has similarly spoken up to corroborate some of the Quiet on Set allegations, as well as level new ones, in an Instagram post where he said, “Apology not accepted” until Schneider goes on 60 Minutes to answer questions from some “real journalists.” (The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to reps for Schneider and Nickelodeon about Salvatore’s comments. Salvatore declined further comment when reached by THR.)

After she posted her video, Nikolas spoke to THR to expand upon what she revealed in the docuseries and share more details about the alleged toxic environment created by Schneider.

She had previously spoken out about a wardrobe-related incident while playing her Zoey 101 character, Nicole, saying on the Real Pod podcast in 2022 that the encounter motivated her to want to speak out and become an advocate for other survivors of predatory behavior.

Speaking to THR, she says Schneider was in the costume room as she tried on outfits and claims he kept Polaroids of her in the outfits. According to Nikolas, the showrunner “handpicked” miniskirts for her to wear, which were “so short” that the costume designers had to give her biker shorts to wear underneath. However, the biker shorts were too long, poking out under the tiny skirts, so they had to be cut.

“I was told [I had to wear the shorts] so that nobody sees my butt,” says Nikolas. “It’s humiliating for a child to be told, ‘We just want to make sure that your butt doesn’t show!’ You look back at that and you’re like, ‘Why don’t you just give me clothes that don’t show my butt?’ Like, that’s freaking weird! Dan wants these skirts; he’s the one handpicking them and he has all creative control. It’s pretty scary looking back at that experience.”

Alexa Nikolas in 2005
Alexa Nikolas in 2005 when she starred on Zoey 101.

Reps for Schneider did not respond to THR‘s request for comment. Kris Dangl, who was the series’ costume designer, denied to THR that Schneider was ever in his office hand-picking outfits for the show. “If a skirt was short, then you wore shorter bike shorts. The skirts got shorter and more sporty at that time when we were doing Zoey 101 because it was a very sporty time, like a lot of tennis skirts and very short, sporty Abercrombie & Fitch skirts,” said Dangl, who started working at Nickelodeon in 2002.

Before the docuseries, Nikolas had publicly spoken about another negative experience she faced on the set of Zoey 101. In 2019 on Instagram Live, the actress detailed a troubling encounter with Schneider following alleged rampant bullying from Jamie Lynn Spears.

At the time, Nikolas said that during the show’s second season, a talent coordinator told her mother that he was taking the actress to hair and makeup, but instead led her to Spears’ trailer. Once she sat down inside, her sister Britney Spears allegedly started “berating” her on Jamie Lynn’s behalf, threatening to ruin her career.

“My mom didn’t even know where I was in that moment and that was child endangerment,” Nikolas tells THR about the situation. “Imagine if it wasn’t Britney and Jamie. Imagine if it was [convicted child sex abuser] Brian Peck on the other side. Which is why, when you’re a talent coordinator, you have to tell the parents where you are taking the children.”

After being cornered by Britney, Nikolas says she told her mother what happened, who then requested a meeting with the show’s production team. Nikolas was accompanied by her agent, while her lawyer was on the phone. “Dan was just horrible. He was saying malicious things, like, ‘Alexa needs to stop crying about being bullied. This is not about her. She needs to put her feelings aside [because] this is a professional work environment,'” she recalls the showrunner saying.

She adds, “There were three other producers in there who were allowing him to act like that. [One casting director] was like, ‘You should be thanking us for giving you an opportunity like this. You’re lucky to be on Nickelodeon.'”

After Nikolas says she burst into tears during the meeting, Schneider asked for the then-13-year-old to speak with him and the production team privately, which her agent agreed to. This led to an escalation from Schneider: “Dan screams at me, ‘This is not called Nicole 101, do you understand me?'”

After running out of the room in tears, Nikolas says she told her mother what happened, who decided to pull her daughter out of the show. “My mom called them and said, essentially, ‘If you don’t remove my daughter, I’m going to sue you,'” the actress recalls.

Shortly after, Nikolas’ mother received a call from the actress’ agent, who said Nickelodeon allowed her to break her contract. The network also passed a message along to the teen, saying she was strongly discouraged from attending the Kids Choice Awards, claims Nikolas. “They punished me for just wanting them to make it a better environment while witnessing Dan Schneider yelling at me,” she says.

Reps for Schneider and Nickelodeon have not responded to THR‘s request for comment.

Britney eventually corroborated her actions toward Nikolas, apologizing in a since-deleted Instagram post. She wrote, “Just imagine…me visiting my little sister on her set, last day of shooting, bringing Sprinkles cupcakes… 9 months pregnant, hormones raging like hell and the [assistant director] witnessing Jamie Lynn running at me, placing her hands on my knees while I’m sitting down, her sobbing telling me that she’s being bullied on set!!!”

She continued, “My sister was literally like my daughter growing up…so I apologize for my ignorance for yelling at you when I obviously had no idea what was really going on!!!”

Nikolas has been in touch with Drake Bell, another Quiet on Set participant, since his story has aired. The actor said that his co-star Josh Peck had reached out privately, and Josh Peck (unrelated to Brian Peck) has since spoken out to support his former co-star. Also speaking out is actress Nancy Sullivan, who played the duo’s mother on the series. “It broke my heart into a million pieces to hear just how much Drake was holding inside while we were working together,” she wrote on Instagram. “I was both devastated and proud seeing the man he’s grown into sit down on camera and bravely tell his truth.”

The doc revealed a list of actors who had written letters of support in 2013 for Bell’s abuser, Brian Peck, and some of those names were news to Bell when watching the doc, he told Nikolas. In a quote from Bell shared with THR via Nikolas, Bell said Taran Killam being among the letter writers was a shock.

“We were friends, I thought,” said Bell in a statement. “I gave him as a gift a cardboard cut out of Princess Leia because he was obsessed with Star Wars, and I worked with Carrie Fisher. So I got it signed for him and he featured it in People magazine when he first got Saturday Night Live [in 2010]. It was for a spread on the new cast, and they said to bring their favorite thing from home. He got a picture with it in the magazine and told the story of how I got it for him.”

He added, “And he still wrote the letter.”

Reps for Killam have not responded to THR‘s request for comment.

Best of The Hollywood Reporter