From a young age, people who knew JoJo Siwa realized she was a rising star. But no one could have anticipated the adventures her life would entail! From the studio to the big stage, JoJo's done it all. But it hasn't always been easy.
Born Joelle Joanie Siwa on May 19, 2003, in Omaha, Nebraska, young JoJo was destined to be a star. With a natural talent, a dance instructor mom, and a chiropractor dad, this little girl had all she needed for a life on the stage.
JoJo's parents Jessalyn and Jon, and her brother, Jayden, all learned to know and love the youngster as a bright, bubbly child who quickly began to consider herself the "Happiest human alive." But, little did they know, life would soon take Siwa through some highly unexpected twists and turns.
A Passionate Child
Early on, Jojo followed in her dance mom's footsteps. So much so that the family struggled to get the little dancer out of the building when classes ended! "When my husband would come pick her up at the [dance] studio, she would not want to leave at night," Jessalyn said in a Rolling Stone interview.
"She was two years old; couldn't even dance or do anything," the proud mom continued. As she grew up, JoJo began to learn about her other likes and dislikes. And, one thing Siwa knew for sure was that she loved bows, glitter, and everything rainbow. That would later shape a big part of the young starlet's brand.
Developing a Signature Look
As she made her way in the dance world, Siwa quickly became known for adding huge bows to her hairstyle, often as an accessory to a high ponytail or pigtail style. This, plus brightly-colored outfits and a vibrant character, became JoJo's iconic personality in no time.
While Siwa may have believed she was just leaning into self-expression in a fun and cute way, the young star would soon learn that this style would get her recognized – big time. Soon, people outside of Jojo's midwest neighborhood, even around the world, would know her name.
Joining a Dance Company
At the age of 9, JoJo found her way to Abby Lee's Dance Company (ALDC), owned by Abby Miller. Per the website, the competitive studio "Formed 35 years ago to afford promising and dedicated young dancers the opportunity to study with the dance community's most distinguished dance educators."
But, the professional dancer training doesn't end there! The main goal of the ALDC is "To compete against other talented young people across the country." For JoJo, ALDC could be the leap needed to take her abilities to the next level. That's why she decided to audition.
Taking Things to the Next Level
Despite feeling worried about being the new girl, JoJo took a chance and entered the studio for a spot on Miller's show, "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition." Siwa's natural and free-flowing ability to move with passion on the dance floor caught Abby's eye.
Unfortunately, the instructor's attention was pulled away from Jojo by the little dancer's own mother, Jessalyn. A dance teacher herself, Jessalyn clashed with Abby on several occasions due to Miller's judgments of Siwa's parenting style. With JoJo caught in the middle, she worried the adult's differences would affect her chances on the show.
The Youngest Competitor
As the youngest competitor in "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition," JoJo constantly felt the pressure. Yet, just like the other contestants, the starlet's eyes were set on the $100,000 prize and scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School. And, the Siwa family had her back the whole time.
"I would say it's my mission in life to make JoJo a star," Jessalyn said on the show. While the mom saw this as supporting her daughter's dreams, some people disagreed, and they certainly didn't hold back. One of those individuals was Abby Lee Miller herself. Tensions soon rose on screen.
"You Are Doing Detrimental Harm"
"I think you have some deeper issues," Miller said to Jessalyn in the show's reunion episode. "You are doing detrimental harm to [JoJo]," the dance teacher continued. Abby didn't elaborate much on why she thought that, but one episode might give a clue as to how the tensions started rising.
In episode 32 of the show extras, JoJo got in trouble for taking part in a different studio's master class. When she returned to ALDC, the Siwa's were reprimanded for their actions. Abby chalked it up as, "Some kid [wanting] to make a quick buck on the weekend because daddy doesn't make enough money," instead of JoJo practicing.
Siwa Made a Lasting Impression
As the production continued for "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition," JoJo gave studio sessions her all on and off-camera. But unfortunately, the dancer's efforts weren't enough to win her the big prize. Still, Siwa didn't walk away totally empty-handed.
Even though she didn't come out on top, JoJo had proven her abilities to Miller. After all of the drama between Siwa's mom and dance instructor, the little girl finally felt that she had won, but a different prize: A warm spot in Abby's heart. With a bit of patience, this would soon come back to work in her favor.
Getting Invited for Another Show
In 2015, JoJo was selected to join the Abby Lee Dance Company as a permanent team member. More than that, she had stolen the hearts of the show's producers. "During shooting, the crew would gather in the control room to watch JoJo's interviews live because they were so compelling," explained Executive Producer Bryan Stinson.
Siwa's captivating spirit was about to take Miller's show, "Dance Moms," to the next level. But that's not to say there wouldn't be loads of scandal, tears, and trial and error along the way. But it all helped JoJo finally become what Abby considered a star.
Center Stage on "Dance Moms"
The young dancer learned quickly and impressed fellow studio-goers. Siwa enjoyed her time on "Dance Moms" so much that she stuck around for two seasons! Sometimes the television star would get solos; other times, she would only appear in that week's group dance. But no matter what, JoJo just tried to have fun.
With more and more people learning Siwa's name thanks to the shows and traveling for competitions, the rising dancer grew in popularity. So, JoJo decided to do something fun - and different - to connect more with the fans she had gained throughout the seasons.
Siwa Joined Social Media
JoJo first joined YouTube in 2015 to answer fan questions. But it wasn't long until she expanded to internet challenges and vlogs, soon gaining a following. Before people knew it, the "It's JoJo Siwa" channel started featuring celebrity collaborations, home tours, experiments, and more.
Since February 2015, the channel has gained over 12.3 million subscribers and has received over 3.5 billion views and counting! By 2018, Siwa was one of the most-followed people on YouTube, and according to Vivid Seats, was named the Breakout Artist of the Year. Social media completely transformed JoJo's world.
A YouTube Career
"I never forget where I came from with YouTube," Siwa explained to Rolling Stone. "I wouldn't be where I am today without it." Looking back, Siwa was able to create a social media space full of positive energy. She began the channel as a simple way to connect with others, but it quickly turned into much more.
JoJo must have been doing something right because Forbes calculated that she made an estimated $9,600 per day from her YouTube account alone! In a matter of years, Siwa gained revenue and fans – but this was just the beginning, as her net worth would soon grow exponentially...
TIME's Most Influential People
As she gained more of a following online, JoJo's fans soon took on their own name: Siwanatorz. "Being a Siwanator means being confident, positive, and supportive of others," the starlet explained. "Sometimes it means building a wall around you…the imaginary kind that keeps the haters away."
Even at such a young age, Siwa made it onto TIME's annual list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World! Thanks to global Siwanatorz, JoJo has reached a following of over 10.8 million followers on Instagram at the time of this article's writing. It turned out YouTube was only the start for the talented dancer's rise to fame.
Releasing Her First Single
A few days after her 13th birthday in 2016, JoJo released a new project: a single! That's right! Not only could Siwa dance, but sing too! The debut track, "Boomerang," was released with a music video that addressed issues of cyberbullying. Fans instantly learned that JoJo was focused on utilizing her platform for good reasons.
Insider reported Siwa's video reached 9 million views in a single month before the Recording Industry Association of America deemed the hit certified platinum! This was still just the beginning of Siwa's successful career as a singer-songwriter, but she explored other ventures before being on stage full-time.
Still bow-obsessed in 2016, the teenager released a line called "JoJo's Bows" that sold at Claire's. The designs replicated the handmade accessories Siwa wore while dancing with ALDC. The outfit add-ons were trendy among the elementary school age, but unfortunately, backlash soon headed JoJo's way.
Due to the higher retail prices, some U.K. schools reported some of their students were bullied because they couldn't afford the bows. In response, JoJo defended her merch line in an Insider interview, explaining that JoJo's Bows were created to be a symbol of "Confidence and believing-ness," nothing more.
The Masked Singer
While still dealing with the bow scandal, JoJo appeared on another stage. Siwa starred in season 3 of "The Masked Singer" as the T-Rex character. At the time, she was just 16-years-old, making her the youngest contestant to join the show. Production worried that JoJo's personality would shine through the costume.
But, she told Entertainment Weekly, "They actually told me to turn the energy up, and if they needed me to tone it down, they would tell me." Just before removing her mask on stage, the judges all correctly guessed who was behind the disguise. The triple threat soon got another big opportunity.
Nickelodeon's Overall Talent Deal
At 17-years-old, JoJo signed a deal with Nickelodeon. "Nickelodeon will have the opportunity to work with Siwa on a multi-platform basis, including in consumer products, original programming, social media, live events, and music," a network representative said in a press release.
As reported by Insider, the network had already begun designing an exclusive live of Siwa consumer products. After guest-starring in TV series and movies and even appearing in several Nickelodeon specials, Siwa won 2 Kid's Choice Awards for Favorite Social Music Star! This was just what JoJo needed to make her next big move...
Siwa's D.R.E.A.M. Tour
The following year, tickets for JoJo's first-ever headlining tour sold out almost immediately. Siwa made her side hustle a full-time gig and was about to travel the world doing what she loved most: Singing, dancing, and spreading happiness to her adoring fans!
In May 2019, JoJo's tour featuring music from her 2 E.P.s was scheduled to span 70 cities through June 2020. But due to the pandemic, the latter 20 shows were postponed. While Siwa was more focused on the fun, Billboard focused on the estimated $27 million she made off the tour. Then, someone popped JoJo's bubble.
Drama With Justin Bieber
Months after the D.R.E.A.M. tour began, JoJo received a special gift for Christmas: A BMW convertible custom-wrapped with her face, rainbows, and glitter all over it! Siwa posted a picture of the tricked-out car on Instagram captioned, "BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!!" But, one celeb, in particular, thought differently of the vehicle.
Justin Bieber commented, "Burn it," on the post, not just a single time, but 3. While 604,000 others liked the picture, Bieber wasn't shy about sharing his opinion. JoJo didn't know how to handle the situation, but in proper mama bear fashion, Jessalynn swooped in to help.
JoJo's Mom Had Her Back
JoJo's mom clapped back at Bieber by writing, "Burn your own things" in response to the comment. After Justin received tons of backlash for his harsh words, he took to Twitter to apologize. Today, over 77,900 users of the platform have supported the Peaches singer's apology in the form of a "like."
"I have nothing against you it was the car and the colors I didn't like," he wrote. "I really hope you didn't think it was malicious or mean-spirited." JoJo tweeted back, "It's all good bro! You can perform at my 16th birthday party and we'll call it good!" Biebs was only the first on Siwa's list of new celebrity friends...
Close With the Kardashians
While she had some brief beef with one celebrity, another Hollywood big face might be one of JoJo's biggest fans! Kim K's North West loves Siwa and her iconic bows. "LOL at North's Bow. She is obsessed with @itsjojosiwa," Kim tweeted of her daughter's love for the accessories and young star.
After Kardashian tweeted to JoJo, the dancer found a creative way to spend some time with her young supporter. Fans around the globe were thrilled when Siwa released a YouTube video called "Babysitting North West!!!" in 2019. The content was everything we ever needed.
JoJo Babysat North West
The fun-filled video consisted of a girl's day that included making glitter-filled slime, playing hide and seek, and showing off their dance moves. It has since reached over 44.4 million views on YouTube. And, some of the video clips even appeared on "Keeping Up With The Kardashians."
The girls became so close that both North West and Penelope Disick attended JoJo's birthday party. It was filmed as part of a Nickelodeon special called "JoJo's Dream Birthday." But, Siwa would soon experience a taste of fame's more unforgiving side.
The JoJo Siwa Makeup Set Scandal
Siwa later released a special kit at Claire's: the JoJo Siwa Makeup Set. It included eyeshadow, two lip glosses, and nail polish. Geared towards young girls looking to try their hand at self-expression just like JoJo, the makeup starter kit was to be a big success. But in a quick turn of events, the products were recalled.
In June 2019, the FDA announced that JoJo's products contained unsafe levels of asbestos. "Safety is myself and Nickelodeon's number one priority in everything, in every product, and everything out there," Siwa said in a since-deleted video, later promising full refunds. Would fans forgive her?
Thankfully, they did. And once that drama train passed, JoJo's TikTok followers received a big surprise. Siwa posted a video claiming if she reached 19 million followers in 24 hours, she would do whatever the top comment said. The video quickly reached her goal and was viewed more than 14 million times.
When Siwa hit her follower goal, she looked at the comments, and "Dress normal for a day" stood out enormously. So JoJo traded in bedazzled sunglasses and colorful bows for a black t-shirt and curly hair let out of the usual ponytail. The TikTok shocked fans and reignited widespread interest in the starlet's rise to fame.
She Bought an LA Mansion
If fans were surprised by her "normal" TikTok look, even more were shocked to see the 17-year-old purchase a $3.4 million mansion! The 6,111 sq. foot Mediterranean-style home was located in LA and decked out in true JoJo-style. Not only did it have marble floors and a gourmet kitchen inside, but a pool and sport court outside!
The 6 bed 7-bathroom rainbow-and-candy-themed home had a "7-Eleven" area complete with a popcorn maker, pizza rotator, and slushie maker. Siwa gave fans a tour of her Tarzana home on YouTube and even showed off her bedroom! So how much exactly was the multi-million-dollar homeowner worth?
JoJo's Net Worth
With countless ventures under her belt, some wondered how much moolah the 17-year-old sat on. Taking the multi-million dollar home, BMW, two Mercedes, the assortment of merch she created, international tour sales, and JoJo's Bows sales into account, Siwa certainly did well for herself.
Add a partnership with JC Penny of JoJo-inspired bedroom décor, children's books, and dolls to the list, and there was no denying that the teenager accomplished a lot. Celebrity Net Worth estimated her net worth to be around a whopping $14 million. But soon, Siwa was in the spotlight for something totally different...
Over the years, JoJo told fans that she didn't "Have time" for relationships and had little interest in dating. But after a friend posted a cozied-up picture of them, the internet thought otherwise. Despite how much rumors swirled, Siwa understood herself better than anyone else.
The teenager knew that soon it would come time to let the world in on her biggest secret. But, this was no revelation either. Instead, JoJo's secret was a piece of information that she had been keeping since she was a little girl. The only people who knew? Her parents.
"I Have Never, Ever, Ever Been this Happy Before"
Breaking news about Siwa came in 2021. JoJo gushed, "I have never, ever, ever been this happy before, and it feels really awesome...now the world gets to see this side of my life." People reported her saying, "I would say that I am pansexual because that's how I have always been."
"My whole life is just like, my human is my human," she continued. Fans finally began to put the pieces together. Many figured out that JoJo had been posting photos with her then best friend, now girlfriend, Kylie Prew, for a year before this big announcement came to light!
In Love with her Best Friend
"After being my best friend for over a year…I got to start calling this exceptional human my Girlfriend…I'm so thankful to have fallen in love with the most perfect person ever," JoJo wrote in an Insta post. Siwa stated that both her parents already knew.
"Fall in love with your best friend, guys. It's THE BEST feeling in the entire world," the teenager gushed on social media. With varying responses, and after becoming Insta-official, Siwa shared, "[Kylie] never cares what the internet said about us…It's nice to have somebody in my life like that," of their relationship.
She's a Proud Advocate
After JoJo came out, she received a mixed response of comments, with some more painful to read than others. About negative reactions, the dancer told People: "A lot of [the comments] were, 'I'm never buying your merch again. My daughter's never watching you again.' I couldn't sleep for three days."
But thanks to Hollywood celebs and dedicated fans who have balanced out the negativity, Siwa said, "I've never gotten this much support from the world. I think this is the first time that I've felt so personally happy." We can't wait to see what else JoJo's journey has in store.