A few years back, Jojo Siwa emerged as a surprise on the reality show “Dance Moms”, known for her bodice one-liners, rapid-fire pirouettes and rainbow-hued ensembles, most complete with huge hair bows. is above.
Today 18-year-old Siwa is all set to return to dance reality TV as a budding queer idol. After coming out earlier this year, she’ll be part of the first gay partnership on “Dancing With the Stars.”
Not much has changed in her wardrobe.
“When I came out, people were like, ‘How come you didn’t see this? That’s always literally There has been a walking pride flag!'” said Siwa. “That’s the best compliment.”
In many ways, Siwa remains the same playful and abusive person he first encountered on “Dance Moms.” But in the intervening years, he has built an empire on his dazzling star power.
except now 36.4 million followers on Tiktokhandjob 10.9 million on Instagram And 12.3 million on youtubewhere her song “Boomerang” Approaching 1 billion views. She has headlined an arena tour and has recently appeared in TV series and films. “J-Team” A film which he also executive produced. his name was one of glades 20 under 20 for 2021, and a most influential people of all time of 2020. She has sold over 80 million of her signature hair bows.
From the start, Siwa’s positive, bullying message bought fifteen girls’ pieces. Since coming out, she’s started talking more directly to people her age, who used to dismiss her as childish stuff. She heads to the 30th season of “Dancing with the Stars,” which premieres Monday with all those fans — aka Sivantorz — in attendance.
“She’s like a living, breathing Mirrorball trophy,” said “Dancing with the Stars” executive producer Andrew Linares, referring to its top prize. “She’s colorful in appearance, but she’s also colorful in her personality and her aura. She’s just an amazing kind of being — being.”
Siwa has grown up immersed in dance. Her mother, Jess, owned a dance studio in Sivas’s hometown, Omaha. Jess had JoJo in competitions when she was just 2 years old, with baby costumes hiding her diaper. “She couldn’t change like nobody’s business, and her appearance was unreal,” Jess said. “She’ll just fascinate people.”
Making JoJo a star in the mold of Hannah Montana, the Disney Channel character played by Miley Cyrus, soon became the goal. “I didn’t know that Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana were two completely different people,” JoJo said. “Hannah Montana was the only human that existed for me, and she was shiny and shiny and a rock star, and I just wanted to be that person.”
In 2013, 9-year-old JoJo earned a spot in the “Dance Moms” spinoff “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition.” Soon, JoJo and Jess join the main cast of “Dance Moms”. Though not the strongest dancer on the show—she regularly dropped to the bottom of its trademark pyramid rankings—JoJo’s assertiveness and unabashed confidence made her a reality TV natural.
“Dance Moms” brought JoJo a degree of fame, but she had limited control over her image. In 2015, she started a YouTube channel, which she described as a way to show her true self. “At 12, I was editing 10 videos a week, which is wild,” JoJo said. “But it was just my favorite, because I was in charge and I had the freedom.”
Millions of followers from beyond the “Dance Moms” universe flocked to see her share The contents of her taco-print dance bag And make pink slime without using her arms. It was a celebrity rooted in its own eccentricity and enthusiasm, without the size of a teen-idol-producing corporation. “In traditional media, stardom builds,” said Ernest Petty, who leads Culture and Trend Insights at YouTube. “But by coming to social media, JoJo was able to claim her voice for herself, to tell her story.”
As her audience thronged, JoJo became an anti-bullying crusader, encouraging her young fans to be themselves haters. That positivity, in its shiny, bow-top packaging, proved highly marketable. And JoJo proved to be a savvy businessman, taking a practical approach to bows and dolls and her own lines of clothing. (Jess proudly describes 13-year-old JoJo Holding Court in a room full of Walmart executives.)
But despite earning the adoration of 6- to 10-year-olds, she faced increasingly toxic harassment online from fellow teens. “I’ve never really had kids my own age,” she said. “But the teens hated me. I mean, literally hatred Me.” From the point of view of her opponents, she looked like a fake, forcing her to live on forever, a charming personality she created when she was 9 years old.
She wouldn’t be the only “Dance Moms” cast member to feel trapped in Ember. Zachary Lennon Torres, who identified as a boy when she was a young teen in “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition” and “Dance Moms,” came out as a transgender woman this spring. Now 22 years old, she said she “hit pause” on her feelings about gender and sexual identity during her years with the franchise, with specific thoughts about what role Torres would play.
“I didn’t have time to think about where I was in my development as a person,” Torres said. “When I left the show and went back to high school, I had to figure out, like, Oh, I wanted a boyfriend. What’s the point of coming out? Who am I?”
Siwa, who overlapped a bit with Torres in “Dance Moms,” is quick to express sympathy for her. But Siwa says her “dance moms” experience neither stunned or changed her, nor did her impending fame.
“Everything I’ve done is not something I didn’t want to do,” she said. “If I wanted to create an alternate identity, I could do that – it would be easy. I didn’t. It’s me.”
Since the quarantine, however, there has been a new sense of vulnerability and transparency in Siwa’s online presence. his posts on tiktok became In a blink of an eye self aware. “I started showing people, like, hey, I know you make fun of me, but guess what? I’m playing!” he said. “They had to meet a person they probably really liked.” After turning 18 in May, she began to experiment a bit. toned-down looks, relaxing the hair.
Siwa came out and introduced his girlfriend Kylie Preeve a Chain NS positions In January and February – an undeniably sincere moment, met with extreme enthusiasm. (She’s still figuring out how to best describe her sexuality; for the moment, she said, she’s “going with queer, because it covers it, and it’s cute.”) She denounced her homophobic Trolls rejected.
“I want to be a role model for people who love love,” she said. “I don’t want to be a role model for people who think it’s wrong to be gay. I don’t need those people in my corner.”
Although Siwa’s ambitions extend to music, acting, and production, her turn to “Dancing with the Stars” comes at a particularly dance-focused moment in her career. Her new film “The J-Team” centers on a dance team, and she is the choreographer on the upcoming streaming series “Siwa Dance Pop Revolution”, co-starring with her mother. “Dancing has always been home for me,” she said.
“Dancing with the Stars” will help tie Siwa together as a dancer and Siwa as a queer role model in the public imagination. (There is some murmur online about her dance background, giving her an unfair advantage on the show, but “dance” often involves trained dancers.) When the “dance” team first asked her earlier this year When contacted, she asked if she would like to perform with a male or female supporter. “I Immediately Chose the woman,” she said. “How wonderful is it that I’m the first to get a chance to make history and inspire people like this? It’s huge.”
This Is Huge. And, in some encouraging ways, it is not. “Dance” follows in the footsteps of its BBC cousin, “Strictly Come Dancing”, which Displayed their first same-sex partnership last year, and the Danish “Dancing with the Stars”, in which The male-male pair has already been awarded the Mirrorball trophy. Since 2019, the National Dance Council of America, the official governing council of traditional ballroom dancing in the United States, has defined a couple in the ballroom as “A leader and follower regardless of the sex or gender of the dancer.”
Siwa, once seen to be stuck in time, is now helping Network TV keep pace with the times. And his Sivantorz? They have already been caught.
“I think the best part,” Torres said, “is for these little kids to see a girl on TV dancing with her, and not even having to show an eye.”