If Jojo Siwa hadn’t been on Dance Moms she would be a high school student in Omaha She would do her homework and play softball Maybe, she thinks, she would prepare to get graduation and apply for pre-medical programs
“By this day, I would love to be a surgeon,” JoJo told PEOPLE in one of this week’s covers, sitting in the lobby of her home in front of a rainbow unicorn the stature of a racehorse She lingers in the past “Being surrounded by children, high school would have been fun”
Hear more from the PEOPLE cover interview with JoJo Siwa below on the PEOPLE Every Day episode!
So – slap! – the singer and dancer whose YouTube videos have been viewed over 36 billion times is back “I love being a pop star so much more! I mean, it’s the coolest life in the world!” she says as her bubbly enthusiasm sends her trademark bow and blonde ponytail vibrate “I wouldn’t trade it for anything”
Every square inch of his two-story mansion, with a swimming pool and concert stage to the rear, reflects JoJo’s rhinestone philosophy (The green mud trompe-l’oeil details on the hall’s molding dining reflect his multi-million dollar deal with Nickelodeon) Much like Superman has his Fortress of Loneliness, this suburban lair with Greek columns is where JoJo retreats to recharge his own superpowers
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There are portraits of JoJo on the walls bearing maxims of JoJo (“Hold the DRAMA”) There is a bar full of candy – every type you can imagine, from Swedish fish to Mike and Ikes to JoJo’s gummy bows (“These are just decoration,” JoJo tells me later, “Nobody in this house eats sugar!”)
A dog, Buddy, runs around in a JoJo hoodie But her mother Jessalyn says the house is not a setting – because that would make her daughter a character
“It’s not Miley / Hannah Montana,” says Jessalynn, who describes her own work as JoJo’s “mom” and “creative director” (Back in Omaha, they called her Jess Jenner, after Kim Kardashian’s mom) “There’s no split What you see is what you get She’s always like this”
The minute she heard about Dance Moms in 2012, Jessalynn remembers thinking, “Why aren’t we on this ?!” She sent an audition tape without ever telling her daughter, and JoJo was selected for a spinoff series in 2013
Two years later they moved to Dance Moms and when they started filming they became the villains of the series (In one memorable scene, famous teacher Abby Lee Miller wanted JoJo to wear a smaller “Beyoncé” bow, JoJo whispers to her mother, using their code word to “go harder” An even bigger bow was worn ” You’re a greedy little monster! “Miller yelled at Jojo)
“We were blinded”, recalls Jessalynn “We were so happy to be a part of this world I never thought about the consequences, the harmful effects it could have on our mental well-being”
They took the punches – the characterizations of the show, the nasty comments on social media – but persevered
“I was like, ‘No I want her to do that'”, says Jessalynn “She wants to be famous”
When she hears JoJo say she wants to be a doctor, “I’m like ‘JoJo, please don’t tell me we’ve done all of this, and you want to go to med school. was doing, we would back her a million percent But I’d be like, ‘Oh my god we’ve spent so many years doing this,’ “she adds
You could say the whole empire started with bows JoJo and Jessalyn made them with hot glue guns and rhinestones at their home in Omaha between dance competitions and sold them in salons
In JoJo’s single “Boomerang”, sold in platinum, his iconographic bow became the symbol of resistance to bullies Since then, the prop has been copied, parodied and, in some school districts, banned. sparked rumors about her hairline
“Every day I’ll be like, ‘I have to cut that down a bit Can we fill it up a bit? People said the arc was the cause,” she said “That arc doesn’t do anything C’ is just my hair “She pulls the iridescent arc off her head Like a matryoshka doll, a little rhinestone bow sits underneath JoJo’s real hair, rarely seen on videos, is darker and more wavy than her hair extension. ponytail
“Before, I hated my hair down,” she said “But one day I was like, ‘I can’t wait to pull my hair out and let it down’ I thought to myself, ‘Is- what did I just say that? “” She explains, “I have two humans living inside this body – rockstar JoJo, who’s the crazy costume And then I’m the coldest, you wouldn’t know never it’s me, black pants, a black hoodie, hair in a ponytail or two braids or down I love them both equally “
“I don’t like the word ‘normal’ but I’m a normal teenager”, adds JoJo “Of course I have blackouts I throw myself on my bed and cry”
JoJo turns 18 next month and will have full freedom to decide what to wear and do next. One thing she plans is a trip to the bank to withdraw some of her fortune held in trust
“I can’t wait for that day! My parents are terrified of moving” She is not, she clarifies “I am delighted to grow up, but I do not think ‘there will never be a day when I say to myself:’ It’s time to be an adult ‘”
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