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The Tragic Reason Zoey 101 Star Matthew Underwood Quit Acting

The following article contains references to child abuse and sexual assault.

The disturbing new docuseries "Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV" has shone a light on the terrible working conditions child actors sometimes have to endure in Hollywood. The documentary focuses mostly on Nickelodeon shows, like "Drake & Josh" and "Zoey 101," with one of the more disturbing revelations being that Drake Bell was sexually assaulted while working for the network. The story was made all the more heartbreaking with James Marsden's "Quiet on Set" controversy, where it was revealed he (as well as many other people in the entertainment industry) wrote letters of support to Bell's assailant. And now, another Nickelodeon star has come forward about their past trauma and how it affected their move away from acting.

Matthew Underwood, who played Logan Reese on "Zoey 101," posted a message on Instagram detailing his experience with sexual assault, starting at 12 years old, by the stepfather of one of his friends. He went on to detail a later experience: "When I was 19, I was sexually harassed and then assaulted by my agent at the time, who had spent a decent amount of time building trust with me as a friend and mentor. Again, my trust was betrayed and my self image crushed." While he didn't name the alleged perpetrator, Underwood clarified in the caption that this agent was different from the individuals currently representing him. 

Underwood then stated that this experience caused him to quit acting. However, he recently made a comeback of sorts by reprising the role of Logan in the Paramount+ "Zoey 101" revival — "Zoey 102."

Why Matthew Underwood decided to come forward now

Many Nickelodeon stars discussed their experiences on "Quiet on Set." Underwood wasn't on the docuseries, but his statement continued by describing why he decided to discuss his past trauma now: "Lately, many people have been blowing up my email telling me they hope me and my mom die and that we burn in hell." There appears to be a lot of clamor online for more individuals affiliated with Nickelodeon to share their own stories or at least denounce what happened. Melissa Joan Hart, star of "Clarissa Explains It All," spoke on the "Meghan McCain Has Entered the Chat" podcast to discuss how she never experienced any abuse but stated, "I'm not negating anything anyone else says."

According to Underwood's statement, the abuse he experienced was outside of filming anything for Nickelodeon. He asserted, "I never had a bad experience working on set of a Nickelodeon show and I never had a bad experience with Dan [Schneider]." Former Nickelodeon producer Dan Schneider received a great deal of attention on "Quiet on Set," facing accusations of inappropriate behavior and discrimination. 

While some people might want to come forward with any abuse they suffered, it's understandable that others don't want to come into the limelight with such information. Underwood concluded, "Please reconsider harassing other actors who wish to maintain their privacy — you never know who has already been a victim of the hell you're wishing upon them."

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).