Former Nickelodeon Stars Who Broke Their Silence On The Network's Toxic Environment

The following article contains references to sexual abuse.

Nickelodeon has created so many shows that have led to laughter and nostalgic memories for children across the world. From "Zoey 101" and "The Amanda Show" to "All That," Drake & Josh," and several others, these staple shows launched several child actors' careers and generated loyal fanbases that tuned in season after season. 

Nowadays, the future of Nickelodeon looks less bright, especially after the bombshell Investigation Discovery documentary series "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV" aired in March 2024. The docuseries featured several former Nickelodeon child actors, network employees, and parents of actors speaking out on what they claim was an incredibly toxic and abusive work environment. The series pointed a finger at former Nickelodeon show creator and producer Dan Schneider, who is accused of heading a misogynistic and abusive workplace that led to long-lasting trauma for many former stars of the network. Many of Schneider's past colleagues recalled that the former producer received massages from young girls on set and verbally abused many of his employees.

Schneider has since apologized, addressing many of these claims in a nearly 20-minute-long YouTube video. But some aren't buying what they believe to be crocodile tears. Since the documentary aired, over a dozen former Nickelodeon stars have come out in support of fellow co-stars who claim to have endured abuse at the network. Here's a look at former Nickelodeon stars who broke their silence on the network's toxic environment.

Drake Bell admitted he was sexually abused by a Nickelodeon acting coach

Drake Bell's shocking interview during "Quiet on Set" highlighted some of the actor's darkest moments, detailing the time a Nickelodeon acting coach sexually abused him. During the docuseries, Bell spoke publicly about it for the first time, revealing that he and his former coach, Brian Peck, formed a close relationship that Peck ultimately exploited. 

When the then-15-year-old Bell was filming "Drake & Josh," Bell often slept over at Peck's apartment before auditions. The move was a calculated effort by Peck, who convinced Bell's parents to allow the actor to spend lots of time with him outside of filming. "I was sleeping on the couch where I would usually sleep," Bell recalled in the docuseries (via Variety). "I woke up to him — I opened my eyes, I woke up and he was sexually assaulting me. I froze and was in complete shock and had no idea what to do or how to react, and I had no idea how to get out of this situation." Peck was eventually arrested in 2003 on 11 charges of child sexual abuse and sent to prison for 16 months. At the time, Bell was the unnamed John Doe in the case. 

The decision to tell his story came after intense therapy and trauma healing, and the "Drake & Josh" star admitted he checked himself into rehab after preliminary interviews were conducted for the "Quiet on Set" documentary.

Josh Peck shared his support for his co-star Drake Bell

After Drake Bell's heartbreaking revelations of sexual abuse became public, all eyes eventually turned to his former co-star Josh Peck. The former "Drake & Josh" star has seemingly been on good terms with Dan Schneider for years, with an insider telling Us Weekly that Schneider was even invited to Peck's 2017 nuptials. With his relationship with Bell on everyone's minds, the actor released a statement shortly after "Quiet on Set" premiered.

"I finished the 'Quiet on Set' documentary and took a few days to process it," he wrote on Instagram. "I reached out to Drake [Bell] privately, but want to give my support for the survivors who were brave enough to share their stories of emotional and physical abuse on Nickelodeon sets with the world." Peck went on to write that "children should be protected," and he hoped the victims' stories would shine a light on the changes that are necessary in the film industry. 

While Peck supported Bell and his decision to share his story, he hasn't come out with any personal negative experiences he had while working at Nickelodeon. When asked about his experiences working with Dan Schneider in an interview with Tana Mongeau, the actor simply said, "I'm being 100% honest, he just was a tough boss."

Alexa Nikolas claims Nickelodeon didn't protect her

Former "Zoey 101" star Alexa Nikolas, who played Nicole, may have been responsible for many laughs on that show, but it seems her time at Nickelodeon was anything but funny. Nikolas has been protesting against the network since before "Quiet on Set" premiered, alleging the network doesn't protect its actors and that she didn't "feel safe" while working on "Zoey 101."

On Dear Media's "Real Pod" podcast, Nikolas revealed that Dan Schneider was present for all of her wardrobe fittings. "Thank God there was a curtain, but he was literally [sitting] on [a] chair right outside of the curtain," she said, adding that he kept Polaroids of Nikolas in different outfits. In a 2022 TMZ interview, she called out the network again, saying, "I didn't feel like Nickelodeon was protecting me or had my best interests in mind." She went on to say that she talked to several other former Nickelodeon stars with similar stories. Though she said she felt the network could redeem itself, she also seemed to think this would be unlikely. "[T]hey haven't even given a comment," she noted.

Two years later, the network changed its tune ahead of the release of "Quiet on Set." "Though we cannot corroborate or negate allegations of behaviors from productions decades ago, Nickelodeon as a matter of policy investigates all formal complaints as part of our commitment to fostering a safe and professional workplace environment free of harassment or other kinds of inappropriate conduct," Nickelodeon told Vulture.

Raquel Bolleau felt overlooked at Nickelodeon

Raquel Lee Bolleau got her big break on the "The Amanda Show," but the network seems to have left her with painful memories. Bolleau starred on the show from 1999 to 2000, playing Amanda Bynes' on-screen friend alongside actors like Drake Bell. 

Bolleau has since opened up about her time at Nickelodeon following the "Quiet on Set" documentary and took to Instagram to share her thoughts. The "Amanda Show" actor described her "daily struggles on set to find acceptance," which included her "being the token 'black friend' always!" Bolleau said that despite her best efforts, she constantly felt "overlooked."

The "Real Husbands of Hollywood" star also participated in a bonus episode of "Quiet on Set," revealing she was replaced on "The Amanda Show" after one season to usher in Josh Peck. In the docuseries, she revealed some humiliating moments while filming the show, including a scene where Bynes had to spit in her face multiple times. "Here I am, a young Black girl behind the stage feeling humiliated," she told Rolling Stone. "Every time she spit in my face, they had to reset my makeup, reset my hair every time because she was taking a gulp of water and spitting it out in my face and I could not take it anymore."

Bynes opted not to participate in the damning documentary. A source told TMZ that the former "Amanda Show" star "felt she just didn't have anything to share that would further their cause."

Jennette McCurdy says she was forced to drink underage while at Nickelodeon

Jennette McCurdy was a staple on Nickelodeon for years, playing Sam Puckett on "iCarly" from 2007 to 2012 and also starring on "Sam & Cat" alongside Ariana Grande. Decades after her career was launched on the network, she detailed her time at Nickelodeon in her tell-all memoir, "I'm Glad My Mom Died."

While she didn't mention Dan Schneider by name, McCurdy recalled numerous dark times while working alongside "The Creator," who many believe to be Schneider given he created both "iCarly" and "Sam & Cat." In the book, the actor recalls being coerced into drinking alcohol underage and getting massages from "The Creator" during her time working at Nickelodeon. Further, while McCurdy said she was overworked and had little creative freedom, Grande was allowed to skip out on filming to perform at award shows to further her singing career. In exchange for her silence, McCurdy said she was offered $300,000 to keep quiet about the shady ongoings at the network, which she refused.

In an excerpt from her memoir (via Vanity Fair), the author remembered "The Creator" telling her, "The 'Victorious' kids get drunk together all the time. The 'iCarly' kids are so wholesome. We need to give you guys a little edge." While she was uncomfortable with his advances, she felt "so scared of offending him." In an interview with The Washington Post, she summed up her time at Nickelodeon as "so painful and real and raw and hurting."

Allie DiMeco had to kiss an adult man as a young teen for a scene

One former Nickelodeon star has haunting memories of the network that made her engage in an uncomfortable kissing scene. From 2007 to 2009, Allie DiMeco starred in "The Naked Brothers Band," a mockumentary depiction of two brothers and their journey as a rock band in New York City. DiMeco played actor Nat Wolff's love interest on the show, but one particular scene still bothers her.

Following the release of "Quiet on Set," DiMeco posted a TikTok video detailing a scene from Season 3 of the show in which she has a brief fling with a French man named Michel (played by Jake Hertzog). At the time, DiMeco was over a decade younger than Hertzog and said she was forced to kiss him on-screen for fear of retribution by producers. 

"They made me kiss this 30-plus-year-old man when I was like, what, 14, 15?" she recalled in the video. "I told them many times that I didn't want to do it." In a separate TikTok video, DiMeco revealed that during the first season, she expressed concerns with producers about kissing on-screen because she hadn't had her first kiss in real life. "There was a female producer who was very upset and looked at me and said, 'You haven't had your first kiss yet?' and grabbed me and kissed me," she admitted. "And then she said, 'There, your first kiss is over. You had your first kiss, now go film.'"

Chris Massey said he plans to share his story

Chris Massey has stayed relatively quiet in the wake of the "Quiet on Set" documentary, but the same can't be said for his family. The "Zoey 101" star's mother, Angel Massey, took to Instagram to defend Dan Schneider from the numerous accusations against him, admitting that her experience with the showrunner was far less harrowing.

"I can't thank this guy enough for the opportunity he gave my son @chrismasseytmb and my family," she wrote on her Instagram Story (via Complex). "BLAME THE PARENTS. NOT DAN," she added, describing Schneider as a genius alongside a photo of him onstage next to her son. She also went on to question some of the language used by former Nickelodeon employees and actors, writing in one post, "@chrismasseytmb and my family had an exemplary experience with Dan Schneider. Define 'toxic work environment.'"

When responding to a fan in the comments section, Angel added, "Also know that the actual STARS / top BILLING actors have not said one negative thing about him. ... This man WAS NICKELODEON." This, of course, sparked a large response from fans wanting to hear from Chris as to whether he backed his mother's claims. In response, Chris posted to his Instagram Story that his personal story was in the works. "My story will be told from me ..... not from a parent, a friend, a co worker ..... ME!!! and only ME ... so please stop messaging me about what my mom said .... respectfully," he wrote.

Devon Werkheiser, Lindsey Shaw, and Daniel Curtis Lee made a controversial joke

Former "Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide" stars Devon Werkheiser, Lindsey Shaw, and Daniel Curtis Lee made some controversial comments in the wake of the "Quiet on Set" documentary. In a TikTok video originally posted by Werkhesier (via Page Six), he and his co-stars made jokes about the accusations against Nickelodeon, with Werkhesier directing a joke at Lee, saying, "Daniel, we told you to never speak about that ... Get back in your hole, Daniel, and give me your holes. Sorry, we shouldn't joke about this. We really shouldn't."

Drake Bell caught wind of the clip and took to X (formerly known as Twitter) to clap back at the "Ned's Declassified" stars' sarcasm. "Ned's Declassless ... this is wild ... laugh it up guys ... laugh it up ... 'Give me your h*les?!!' Really?!" he tweeted in response. Werkhesier publicly apologized to Bell, but the damage was done. 

The co-stars further addressed this during an episode of their "Ned's Declassified Podcast Survival Guide" podcast following the controversy. "[E]veryone was asking us ... for our opinions on it. ... [A]nd I get it. Now, having seen the documentary, it's so disturbing," he said, clarifying that the joke wasn't directed at Bell. "Now, we've watched it, and I get it. If I had just watched especially that third episode and then watched us joking like that ... I would be like, 'Are they sociopaths? ... Is something wrong with them?'" he added.

Matthew Underwood had a positive experience working at Nickelodeon

Former "Zoey 101" star Matthew Underwood is one of the few actors who has spoken out about having a positive experience at Nickelodeon following the premiere of "Quiet on Set," releasing a statement via Instagram a few weeks after the docuseries dropped.

"I never had a bad experience working on set of a Nickelodeon show and I never had a bad experience with Dan," he shared in his post. While he revealed he doesn't have any relevant comments on the accusations against Dan Schneider, he admitted, "I like to believe people have the capacity to be better humans and Dan appears to recognize that he has been an a**hole in his past."

Despite not having experienced any toxicity on the set of "Zoey 101," Underwood did reveal that he was sexually abused while working as an actor, causing him to quit the industry completely. "I'm going to share something with you that I never thought I'd have to talk about publicly, as it's honestly none of your business anyway," he stated. Underwood revealed that he was "groomed and molested" by his best friend's stepfather when he was 12 years old, admitting he lost his best friend over the ordeal due to the trauma. The "Zoey 101" star also revealed that he was sexually harassed and assaulted by his agent when he was 19 years old, and while the agent was later fired, he continues to work in the industry.

Matt Bennett stands with fellow Nickelodeon stars

Fans probably remember Matt Bennett from when he played Robbie on "Victorious" in the early 2010s. Nowadays, the actor-turned-DJ has spoken out about several of the injustices many former Nickelodeon stars say they endured at the hands of the network.

Bennett posted to his Instagram Story, writing, "I spent most of it trying to remove myself from the situation, asking, 'If I hadn't worked for Nickelodeon and didn't know any of the people involved, would I be ok with the behavior and the treatment of others I'm seeing?' And the answer is no. I wouldn't be ok with it and I'm not ok with it. I'm not sure how much I can do or say today, it's all a little too real for me right now." 

Bennett added that he still had a lot of processing to do in unpacking the bombshell docuseries but expressed his support by standing with his fellow Nickelodeon stars. "I'm dedicated to help in any way I can to put more safeguards in place to protect young actors," he said, emphasizing that mental and physical health for everyone who works in the entertainment business is the top priority.

Dan Schneider apologized for his behavior as Nickelodeon showrunner

Dan Schneider had quite a lot of explaining to do after several accusations detailed in "Quiet on Set" painted him as Nickelodeon's toxic ringleader. Schneider was previously at the center of multiple investigations into inappropriate behavior, and he was ultimately let go in 2018 after evidence found he was abusive in the workplace. More public allegations have emerged, however, giving a detailed look at his shady behavior that lasted over two decades.

In the documentary, former staff writers Christy Stratton and Jenny Kilgen say they were subjected to sexual harassment on set and were forced to share a single salary. Kilgen claimed that pornography was constantly playing in the writers' room and that Schneider would make her give him massages in exchange for him to air her sketches. Several costume designers, parents, actors, and others involved at Nickelodeon recalled seeing young women massaging Schneider on set on several different occasions. 

Schneider addressed many of these allegations in his apology video. He spoke about the various massages, saying, "It was wrong that I ever put anybody in that position. It was a wrong thing to do." He continued, "I'm embarrassed that I did it then. I apologize to anybody that I ever put in that situation." Schneider also revealed that he "said things that went too far" in the writers' room, blaming it on his inexperience as a producer at the time.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).