Though we’d argue it turned out pretty okay for Maddie.
Turning 18 today—an occasion she’ll no doubt celebrate by casting her very first presidential vote, something she’s been urging her 13.7 million Instagram followers to do for weeks—she’s long ago made the grand jeté from her reality roots into bigger and better opportunities.
Discovered by electropop musician Sia when she was 11 (“She watched the show, Dance Moms, and from there she just tweeted me,” Maddie told E! News), the Pittsburgh native has starred in seven of her mentor’s music videos, racking up billions of YouTube views; joined the Australian singer-songwriter on her 2016-2017 Nostalgic for the Present Tour; and filmed her forthcoming directorial debut, the drama Music, alongside Kate Hudson and Leslie Odom Jr.
Maddie’s resume also includes parts in everything from 2017 thriller The Book of Henry to the upcoming West Side Story remake, her New York Times best-selling memoir, a YA trilogy, a Fabletics collection and, with any luck, more fashion lines and a beauty brand. And, yes, the onetime So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation judge can still turn fouettés around most of the competition.