Parents Off Set: Former Child Star Alexa Nikolas Opens Up About the Dark Side of Working for Nickelodeon

Alexa Nikolas is no stranger to children’s television. She starred as Nicole Bristol in Nickelodeon’s hit series Zoey 101 as a pre-teen and saw firsthand what went on behind the bubblegum facade of kids’ programming. 

Her experience at Nickelodeon is part of the new Investigation Discovery docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids’ TV, which exposes the dark underbelly of the children’s network that captured the hearts and minds of millions of young people in the 1990s and early 2000s. 

Nikolas worked closely with producer, show creator, and network golden boy, Dan Schneider, who came under fire after allegations of misogyny, hostile work environments, and inappropriate content in shows starring minors came to light. 

On Wednesday’s show, Megyn was joined by Nikolas, who is the founder of the Eat Predators movement, to discuss her career in Hollywood as a child actor and what can be learned from it.

[Editor’s Note: You can read statements from Nickelodeon and others to The Megyn Kelly Show regarding the allegations here.]

Life On Set

Nikolas opened up about her experience working with Schneider on Zoey 101 and the traumatic work environment he created. “He [always] made me feel deeply uncomfortable, and I never knew what version of him I was gonna get that day,” she recalled. “You think about adults having to, sadly, experience that, but this was children and this is a time when your brain is still forming and it became… essentially childhood trauma.”

Nikolas believes her character, Nicole Bristow, was “there for the boys” with a wardrobe of short skirts and relatively provocative ensembles. She recalled having to wear custom bike shorts under her costumes so as not to flash the audience.

In one instance, Nikolas said the wardrobe department had to retrofit the spandex shorter and shorter to ensure it wasn’t visible under her miniskirt. “You could see the biker shorts past the skirt, and I remember [the stylist] saying we’re going to have to cut these biker shorts,” she shared. “She was like, ‘It’s to make sure that you know your butt doesn’t show’… And now when I look back at that I’m like, why was I wearing a skirt where my butt could show as a child?”

Schneider, Nikolas claims, was highly involved in the wardrobe process – sitting in on fittings and taking polaroids of the looks. “As I got older, I realized that that wasn’t necessarily normal,” she said. “Like, you don’t usually see the handover directly, but I would see the handover directly quite often.”

Parents Off Set

Watching the docuseries, Megyn had the reaction so many others did: Where were the parents? “I think most of us would like to believe – and I know you’re a mom yourself – we’d run in there be like, ‘No,’” Megyn said. “Where were they?”

Parents, Nikolas said, were not allowed on set. “There were no parents, honestly, on set and they were told to step out because there wasn’t enough room to have everybody in there,” she shared. “Parents were around, but they weren’t around in the way that we think they were around because Nickelodeon would actually not have them present.” 

As such, Nikolas believes parents were largely in the dark. “Sometimes,” she concluded, “parents weren’t even really necessarily aware of what was happening.”

You can check out Megyn’s full conversation with Nikolas by tuning in to episode 751 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.