What Really Happened To Jojo Siwa After Leaving Dance Moms - The List (2024)


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ByEric Langberg/

"Dance Moms"breakout JoJo Siwa left the show for good in 2019, but she started to wind down her appearances a few years before that. After all, her bubbly personality quickly won her legions of fans, and the show led to multiple other opportunities for the then-tween to develop her brand. Hair bows, rainbows, glitter, and sparkles soon covered every inch of her life — and from all accounts, Siwa seemed like she couldn't have been happier. "I have so many fun projects I'm working on, I feel like I'm living a dream everyday!"she told Showstopper Magazine in 2017. She also claimed that she held great memories of her time on the Lifetime reality show. "The cast and crew were like one big family and I love each and every one of them!"she said.

Siwa's millions of fans have been eager to follow the star from project to project, and they've been willing to follow her on every social media platform under the sun, from YouTube to TikTok and beyond. To outsiders, though, Siwa's fame has sometimes been inscrutable. YouTuberDerek Gerard racked up nearly a million views in 2018 with a video called "It Is IMPOSSIBLE To Understand A Word This Girl Says,"in which he reacted to Siwa's occasionally excitable speech patterns. Of course, Siwa kept doing her thing. And since leaving "Dance Moms," she's only been in the public eye more often.

After Dance Moms, JoJo Siwa toured the world

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JoJo Siwa started on "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition"and quickly jumped to "Dance Moms,"putting in appearances on the show up through 2019. At that point, she'd already been incredibly famous for several years — far too big for the reality show that made her career. After all, she'd found a new outlet for communicating with her fans: YouTube. Through quirky videos like house tours and cupcake-baking tutorials, Siwa's energetic personality won her legions of fans.

In 2016, Siwa released "Boomerang,"a single that tackled online bullying. She told Billboard, "Every day people comment, 'You're fat, you're ugly, you're rude, you're all this stuff,' and I just don't like it at all. Idon't want anyone to have to go through that."This all led to a partnership with Nickelodeon, which saw Siwa setting out on D.R.E.A.M. The Tour. In 2019, she performed dozens of shows all around the world. "It's going to be amazing and epic,"she promised The Hollywood Reporterahead of the tour.

In a later interview with KTLA, Siwa confirmed that the tour was just as epic as she hoped. "It's so crazy, you know?" she said. "It's exactly whatI've wanted to be doing my whole life."

JoJo Siwa came out as LGTBQ+

In January 2021, JoJo Siwa collaborated with a TikTok collective called PrideHouse LA. Alongside performers like Garrett Clayton, Siwa lip-synced lines from Paramore's song "Ain't It Fun,"dancing to "Now you're one of us!" That led to fan speculation about the Nickelodeon star's sexuality. A few months later, Siwa sat down withPeopleand explained. "Technically 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 said.Siwa also told the magazine, "I always just say gay because it just kind of covers it or queer because I think the keyword is cool." At the time, Siwa was in a relationship with Kylie Prew. "She never cares what the internet said about us,"Siwa said.

Siwa's powerful coming-out statement seems to have been a long time in the works. When she appeared on a digital cover of Entertainment Weekly meant to mark Pride Month, Siwa revealed that her family and friends had known for a long time before she went public with her sexuality. Her mother, Jessalynn Siwa, noted that the queer community's embrace of the former "Dance Moms" star could serve as a model for how other people should be accepted by the public. "That was a big reality check for us, to really try to make it easier for people and easier for kids, easier for parents to be more accepting,"she said.

She ditched her iconic hair bows

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For a long time, JoJo Siwa's image was associated with the iconic, oversized bows she wore in her hair. That turned into a merch empire. "So far, we've sold over 80 million bows," Siwa told Forbes in 2020. At the time, she insisted to the outlet that she wasn't interested in switching up her image. "For me the bow isn't just something that I put in my hair. I feel weird without it,"she said. "I won't just wake up and say, 'I don't want a bow in my hair.' That's never going to happen."

However, Siwa did indeed wake up one morning in 2021 and decide that she no longer wanted to wear the bow. As she was approaching adulthood, Siwa realized that it was time to ditch the fashion accessory that made her such a star. Before she made the change, though, she had to tell her mother. She toldPeople that this conversation with her mom was actually more difficult than coming out.

Still, Siwa acknowledged, the imagery was simply too iconic to commit to putting away for good. "I still love bows, I forever will,"she said. "They're who I am, but maybe I won't wear it every day."

Her breakup with Avery Cyrus got messy

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Ever the open book, JoJoSiwa was happy to let fans in on her relationship with fellow social media star Avery Cyrus. The relationship seems to have been a quick one. They went from first meeting to publicly celebrating their one-month anniversary in a TikTok video in which Siwa set up a picnic on a beach for her girlfriend. "That sounds so lame,"Siwa gushed to E! News. "But you gotta celebrate one month so you can get to two months, and years, and beyond that."

The relationship would, unfortunately, not make the "years" mark. A month after their one-month anniversary, Siwa sparked headlines by suggesting that Cyrus had been less than honest about her intentions. "You told one of my best friends that you were excited to be dating me [because] you're 'growing your career and wanna get to the top'...,"Siwa wrote in a TikTok, accusing Cyrus — albeit without naming her — of using her for social media clout. In an Instagram Story, Siwa also proclaimed,"I got tricked into being told I was loved and I got f***ing played"(via Billboard).

Siwa's Dance Pop Revolution led to accusations of misconduct

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Always looking to expand her media empire, JoJo Siwa branched out in 2021 to host a reality show. She led a Peaco*ck competition called "Siwa's Dance Pop Revolution," a "Making the Band" style attempt to create a group called XOMG POP! "With creating this girl group, we wanted to show girls all around the world that anything is possible, if you work hard and if you believe," Siwa told 9Honey Celebrity.

That all sounds wonderful, but not everybody viewed their time with XOMGPop! positively. In fact,Siwa and her mother were accused of mistreatment on set. In an exposépublished by Rolling Stonein February 2024, various members of the cast and production recalled troubling incidents while filming "Siwa's Dance Pop Revolution."Leigha Sanderson, a young dancer with spina bifida, told the outlet that one day she started bleeding through her belly button in advance of a surgery. Rather than stop the rehearsal, Siwa's mother, Jessalyn, told her to put a pad on it. Sanderson's mother, Angie, said they were fired from production after complaining about their treatment. "Leigha and I were in a dark, dark place for months and months that I don't think we were healthy enough to speak out,"she said.

However, other parents disagreed with that assessment of JoJo and Jessalyn. "Jess has taken care of the girls as her own,"one mom expressed in a statement to Rolling Stone."JoJo has played an older sister role and supportive mentor to the girls."

JoJo Siwa called out Nickelodeon's reaction to her coming out

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For many years, JoJo Siwa's partnership with Nickelodeon produced mutually beneficial results. They sponsored D.R.E.A.M.The Tour, helped launch her merch lines, and even produced films like "The J Team," a Paramount+ movie starring the Gen Z icon. That being said, Siwa has alleged that the beleaguered children's network has been less than kind about the fact that she has come out as queer.

In a 2022 Instagram video, Siwa told her fans that the network stopped inviting her to the Kid's ChoiceAwards, even though she was nominated and her music was used during the ceremony. "I don't want anyone to think it was my choice not to go... I simply didn't get an invite,"she wrote.The following year, Siwa posted a TikTok about being called into a meeting with an unnamed employer over her sexuality. "During this meeting, the president of the company negatively asked me, 'What are you gonna tell your young demographic?' I took a second to process what I was just asked, and then, I replied ... 'the truth,'"she wrote.

A statement from NIckelodeon provided toE! Newsread:"We are unaware of what incident or meeting JoJo is referencing, but it certainly did not happen at Nickelodeon." Siwa disagrees; on the "Call Her Daddy" podcast in 2024, Siwa said that it was indeed the president of Nickelodeon who called her into a meeting.

She judged several seasons of So You Think You Can Dance

Considering JoJo Siwa got her start on dance-related reality shows like "Dance Moms," it made sense that she would return to the art form that launched her to stardom. In 2021, she competed on "Dancing With The Stars." She was the first celebrity dancer to compete with a same-sex pro, and the pair ended up placing second in the competition. She told Teen Vogue that the experience was transformative. "I used to walk with my chin low, my shoulders hunched over, hiding within myself,"she said."Now I stand a little taller with my chin a little higher, looking a little prouder."

Beginning in 2022, Siwa also served as a judge on the FOX competition show "So You Think You Can Dance."She was particularly excited about the opportunity because it gave her a reason to focus on dance once again after moving into other ventures in the years since she performed under Abby Lee Miller's legendary watchful eye. Appearing on "The Kelly Clarkson Show,"Siwa marveled at the fact that she had gone from contestant to judge. "It's so unreal,"she said. Siwa explained that she was excited about the opportunity to get back into dance, but she also had to learn how to critique others in a productive way. "Being honest on somebody, and being hard on somebody, if they can be better in that capacity, that's a different story than being straight-up harsh," she said.

She's reconsidered her time on Dance Moms

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These days, JoJo Siwa has a lot going for her. As she looks toward the future, it's only natural that she would also be forced to reconsider how she got to this point, especially considering our nostalgia-addicted culture that seems eager to recirculate old video clips at any moment. Along those lines, Siwa seems to have a complicated relationship with controversial former "Dance Moms" head Abby Lee Miller. In a 2023 TikTok, Siwa reacted to a video of herself being berated on her former show. "When people hate to try and hurt me but this was my childhood,"she wrote.

That being said, Siwahas also defended Miller from criticism from other "Dance Moms" alums. When former participant Brooke Hyland posted a since-deleted TikTok about not wanting to be friends with Miller on Facebook, Siwa commented, "It's one thing to just not add her back, it's another to post..."(via People). She discussed the drama in an interview with ET, pointing out that people who signed up for the show should've been aware of Miller's well-documented temperament. "You go to Abby, you know what you're getting into,"she said. "So it makes me really, really upset that I am one of the few— there's only a few people— that really truly thank Abby, and are thankful and grateful for what she's done for us."

Her surprising new look turned heads

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Gearing up for the release of a new single, "Karma,"JoJo Siwa showed up to the iHeart Radio awards inApril 2024 looking quite different. In addition to sporting a braided mohawk, Siwa replaced her usual bright-colored glittery outfit with a black and gold glittery ensemble. She also surprised fans with dark, edgy makeup around her eyes. "I think people forget that my whole life has been criticized and judged and watched. It's not easy. It's very tough,"she told Extra.

Fans on social media were caught off guard by Siwa's new look, and criticism quickly followed, just as she'd predicted. "Jojo Siwa does not have to dress like a KISS band member every. single. day to rebrand,"one person wrote on X, formerly Twitter."Just put on regular clothes, change your hair, make your music (or whatever that Karma disaster is), and just BE the "bad girl" you wanna be with your actions."

The image shake-up did have at least one high-profile defender. TMZ caught up with KISS frontman Gene Simmons, who said he was a fan of the "The JoJo & BowBow Show Show" star's new style. "Never be ordinary. Always be extraordinary,"Simmons advised."JoJo is extraordinary and she looks cool."

She claimed to have invented a new genre of music

The same week she appeared in her new look, JoJo Siwa released "Karma," a Rock Mafia-produced song sifting through the wreckage of a failed relationship. "I was a bad girl / I did some bad things,"Siwa sings. She financed the music video herself, which sees her gyrating with a number of female backup dancers, drawing comparisons between her Miley Cyrus' infamous rebrand. However, in aninterview with The New YorkTimes, she said somewhat confusingly,"I am the first, per se, first child star that is going from not a character to still not a character."

She got at something similar in an interview with Billboard, claiming, "No one has made, in my generation, this extreme of a switch. I am the first of a generation; it is very scary, but someone's gotta do it." With this song, Siwa also claimed to have invented a new genre of music: "gay pop." She told Billboard, "It's not necessarily pop. It's not giving you Katy Perry, 'California Gurls' pop, it's giving you Lady Gaga, 'Judas.'"

There are, of course, plenty of other gay people making music. Many clowned Siwa for claiming to invent this genre. Queer artists Tegan and Sara, for example, posted a TikTok showing off their stone-faced reactions and knowing nods to Siwa's claim. OneTikToker who spoke out against Siwa told BuzzFeed, "I feel confident in saying music has always been queer."

Fans accused JoJo of stealing Karma

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JoJo Siwa's "Karma" rebrand was designed to stir up controversy. "It's no secret that my transition is heavily inspired by Miley Cyrus,"she told Billboard in aTikTok. She also told Billboard, "I don't care if people like it. I don't care if people hate it. But I want people to turn their head at it and I want people to notice it."

Fans have noticed it, alright, but some of the controversy that erupted around the song comes down to a misunderstanding. TikTok latched on to the fact that the song has been floating around since at least 2012, when a singer named BritSmith recorded it. Smith told Page Six, "It's a shock to me that it's got a new life, which is amazing, but yeah ... it was supposed to be my first single."She didn't wind up releasing the song until Siwa's version came out, and Smith's version climbed above Siwa's on the iTunes charts, boosted by fans who felt they were righting a wrong and that Siwa "stole" the song.

That is, of course, not how the music industry works. Today.comconfirmed that Siwa didn't claim to have written "Karma" and that unreleased music gets re-recorded all the time. They pointed out that fans in Siwa's Instagram comments kept calling it a "cover."One fan, however, defended the pop star. "She never claimed to write it y'all," they wrote. "[Y'all] are just hating to hate now."

What Really Happened To Jojo Siwa After Leaving Dance Moms - The List (2024)
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