TV creator Dan Schneider has been an uncomfortable topic for Nickelodeon for years at this point—his multi-decade tenure at the network a blend of massive success, and allegations of unprofessional behavior, including toward the many young actors who worked on his various shows. Now, that discomfort has been brought back into the spotlight once again, as Alexa Nikolas, one of the stars of Schneider-created series Zoey 101, has spoken out about him during a protest against Nickelodeon’s treatment of its child stars, calling Schneider a “creator of childhood trauma,” and stating bluntly that she did not feel safe around him during her time at the network.
A writer, producer, and creator on some of the network’s most successful shows (Drake And Josh, iCarly, Victorious, and several others), Schneider’s star-making run at the network stretched from the late 1990s to 2018—when Nickelodeon abruptly announced that it was cutting ties with him, citing an internal investigation that, per The New York Times, found “evidence of verbal abuse by Schneider to his colleagues.”
Nikolas’ presence at the protest on Thursday comes not long after iCarly star Jennette McCurdy reignited conversation about Nickelodeon’s treatment of young performers with the publication of her new memoir I’m Glad My Mom Died. McCurdy’s book doesn’t talk about Schneider by name—but it does feature numerous stories of a man only referred to as “The Creator,” who verbally abuses and manipulates young actors, encouraging them to drink alcohol, screams at them, and gives them unwanted back massages. (The New York Times report on the internal investigation into Schneider said it found no evidence of sexual misconduct.)
Since her stint at Nickelodeon, Nikolas has founded the activist/whistleblowing group Eat Predators, which is mostly focused on the music industry—but which has recently branched into TV. Besides talking about her own physical discomfort around Schneider—and calling out a time when he and other executives on Zoey 101 brought her into a room alone and yelled at her, then a young teenager, until she cried—Nikolas also called for an investigation into Schneider’s production company, Schneider’s Bakery. Among other questions raised, Nikolas says she’s curious about how many non-disclosure agreements former actors on the show’s productions have signed (McCurdy alleges in her book that she was offered $300,000 to never talk about her experiences at Nickelodeon), and raised concerns—as a number of people have, over the years—about the potentially sexual nature of some of the footage shot for the various series.
Nikolas’ protest didn’t focus solely on Schneider; she also put much of her focus on Nickelodeon itself, accusing executives of enabling abusive behavior toward its child stars.