A FORMER NICKELODEON star and nearly 30 protestors gathered outside of the studio’s Burbank office on Thursday, protesting Nickelodeon over what they alleged was an enabling of abuse from executives at the network.
Organized by Alexa Nikolas, who starred in the popular kid’s show Zoey 101 for the show’s first two seasons in 2005 and 2006, the protest specifically called out Dan Schneider, the creator of Zoey 101, alongside other popular Nick shows including iCarly, Victorious and Drake and Josh.
In a poster she designed, Nikolas called Schneider “the creator of childhood trauma,” itself an apparent reference to “The Creator” who former iCarly star Jennette McCurdy referenced in her recent book I’m Glad My Mom Died. (McCurdy never identified The Creator, who she alleged had encouraged her to drink alcohol while underage and claimed had massaged her shoulders without permission.)
“I didn’t feel protected at Nickelodeon as a child,” Nickolas said. “I didn’t feel safe around Dan Schneider; every time he came on set my body got extremely tense. Later on in season 2, him and a bunch of executives made me cry in a room alone. I don’t think any child should have to experience anything like that, especially when it’s coming from people that are supposed to be looking out for the kids on set.”
A series of protests over the prevelance of sexual abuse in the entertainment industry have been staged in front of prominent music companies in recent weeks, and the efforts have been gaining attention on social media via actor Alexa Nikolas. A former cast member of the 2005-2008 Nickelodeon series “Zoey 101,” Nikolas’ megaphone includes more than 255,000 followers on Instagram as well as the public support of such activist groups as the 100 Percenters.
Her own organization is called Eat Predators, and its supporters have gathered in front of Warner Music Group’s Los Angeles headquarters on July 28; Red Light Management’s L.A. office on July 21; and Sony Music’s Culver City lot last week where about a dozen protesters held signs referencing artists affiliated with the label group who have been accused of sexual misconduct and abuse.
Though a small group, the Aug. 18 gathering Sony elicited honks from cars and stares from staffers and visitors. Video posted from the protest received more than 80,000 views in less than a day. On Aug. 25, she went live on Instagram from outside Nickelodeon offices in Burbank.
“The #MeToo movement totally skipped over the music industry by a long shot,” Nikolas tells Variety. “So I was like, what do you do about this systemic problem within the music industry?”
Alexa Nikolas is a nervous hostess. While this isn’t the successful actor and vocalist’s first time hosting this type of gathering in Los Angeles, it’s that the nerves never quite go away, she says.
Wearing a cream-colored sundress that falls just above the knees, she has the perfect attire for a summer garden party. But this is no such thing. Instead, Nikolas and the young crew she has assembled are in the streets of L.A., demonstrating outside the offices of Freedman and Taitelman, LLP as part of a grassroots movement that she launched over the summer.
Nikolas is leading the burgeoning movement that she’s named Eat Predators. Its logo features a pair of full, red lips chomping on the hand of a white man; for Nikolas, this is precisely the demographic of the alleged and accused predators she says have infested the entertainment industry.
Eat Predators has the lofty goal of ending sexual assault in the music industry. The movement’s means is holding music management companies and record labels responsible for adequately investigating accusations against their artists. Its first public protest was a small gathering at a July 11 pop-up concert featuring the artist Diplo, who faces allegations of rape; since then, Eat Predators has grown in size while finding alliances.
As a busy Grammys weekend kicks off with the MusiCares gala, women who say they are survivors of sexual abuse in the music world are calling for that industry to change its tune.
New laws passed in California and New York in 2022 have created a window for adult survivors of sexual assault to bring civil claims against their alleged attackers which otherwise would have passed their statutes of limitations, resulting in what attorneys say is a heavy influx of survivors with claims. “The time is now to speak your truth,” Anderson said.
Zoey 101 actress Alexa Nikolas, jazz vocalist Sandra Booker and composer Nomi Abadi of the Female Composer Safety League also spoke at the emotional press conference, as did attorney Karen Barth Menzies.
“It’s time to turn down the music and listen to what countless survivors of this industry have had to say,” said Nikolas, founder of the organization Eat Predators, who has alleged sexual abuse by her ex-husband, Michael Milosh of the indie R&B band Rhye. Milosh has denied the claims.
Nikolas added, “The music industry is the Catholic Church on steroids.”