Saturday, September 11, 2021

The J Team | Cast & Crew Interviews | Nickelodeon | Paramount Plus

Paramount+ will be premiering The J Team, a new live-action musical starring and executive produced by pop star and social media sensation JoJo Siwa on Friday, September 3, and to celebrate, below is a hand-picked selection of interviews with the cast and crew of Nick's all new movie! To find out more about The J Team, click here! Try Paramount+ for FREE at!

JoJo Siwa Talks Losing Her Bow for 'The J-Team' and Whether Her Trademark Look Will Ever Return (Exclusive)

JoJo Siwa isn't getting rid of her iconic bow anytime soon. In fact, her new movie, The J-Team, is all about embracing the sparkle, magic and uniqueness of Siwa's colorful style.

Siwa recently opened up to ET about her new Nickelodeon original movie, in which Siwa stars as a fictionalized character based on her own famous persona. When her dance group gets a new instructor that doesn't value individuality, Siwa is forced to get rid of her bow and blend in with the rest of the group.

"It's funny to me how real the movie feels to people," Siwa tells ET's Denny Directo. "We were watching it with my mom's sister, actually, and she was like, 'Just let her wear the bow!' I was just dying laughing."

For Siwa, exploring a different side of herself -- and examining the value she places on self-expression  -- proved to be an exciting experience.

"It was fun. It was fun to explore. And obviously, I knew how the movie was going to end. I was always going to be myself in the end, which I think is how I am [in real life]," she shares. "I've had moments in these last few days that even though I don't necessarily wear a bow 24/7 anymore, nothing about me has changed. I'm still the same human."

Siwa just recently turned 18 in May, and explained how she honestly used to wear her trademark sparkly bow all the time, every day.

"Honestly, up until my 18th birthday, it was every single day. And it was right around my 18th birthday, I think four days after, that I talked to my mom," she says. "We have always questioned how I was going to stop wearing a bow, or questioned how that whole transition was going to work, and we never knew. But it just felt right."

That being said, when she thinks about what her style evolution is likely going to look like, Siwa explains, "I think it's the same thing [as when] people asked me when I was little: I don't know."

"The future gets to decide that," she adds. "I definitely think that my style has changed, but I think that it still centers around what it always has been."

The J Team premieres on Friday, Sept. 3, exclusively on Paramount+.


From E! News:

Why JoJo Siwa Had Abby Lee Miller "References" Removed From The J Team

In an exclusive interview with E! News, JoJo Siwa spoke about her new Paramount+ musical film and the similarities between a key character and her former Dance Moms instructor.

There's no dancing around the fact that a particular character in JoJo Siwa's upcoming TV musical film may bring to mind a notable figure from the pop star's past.

In The J Team, set to premiere on Paramount+ on Sept. 3, the 18-year-old Nickelodeon star plays a teenage dancer who has to deal with a strict—and sparkles-hating—new coach, Miss Poppy, played by Tisha Campbell. JoJo, who also serves as an executive producer of the movie, rose to fame as a child star on the Lifetime reality show Dance Moms, which saw her being taught by real-life dance instructor Abby Lee Miller, who is known for her tough tactics. JoJo told E! News exclusively that there was a conscious decision to separate Miss Poppy from Abby.

"There actually was a lot more, I guess I should say, Abby references," she revealed. "Like there's a moment in the movie where Miss Poppy's coach, when she was little, Mr. Melody, he said something like, 'I want no, no, no, no, no crying kids in Mr. Melody's class.' And once I got the script, I was like no, because this is not a dig at Abby at all, and I said, I get it, it's funny and it's a funny reference and everybody knows it. But there [were] a few references that were just a little too close to home."

On the Lifetime series, Abby occasionally upset her students with her blunt critiques. On a season five episode in 2015, she left JoJo in tears following a public confrontation with her and her mother, Jessalynn. The instructor told the child star, "I want no, no, no, no, no, no crying children. None."

JoJo continued, "Most dance coaches are like that, are like Miss Poppy. It's a real thing. And so, I think we were just telling a story. And if I never would have been on Dance Moms, no one would ever have thought, 'Oh, that's-'...I think the world is looking for me to be like, 'Yeah, no, that was a reference to Abby Lee.'"

"I'm all about pleasing the viewer, obviously, and I want the viewer to be happy and whoever's watching the movie to like it," JoJo told E! News about The J Team. "And so, I get that it's funny. I do. And I think Abby also would get that it's funny and I don't think that it's mean or harmful. But obviously, she looked at me and said, 'I want no, no, no, no, no crying children.' And so, would it have been funny to have that in there? Yes. Was it necessary? No."

Abby has defended her teaching tactics. In 2020, she left Dance Moms and Lifetime after nine years, following a jail stint for bankruptcy fraud and a cancer battle. She continues working at the Abby Lee Dance Company.

And there appear to be no hard feelings between her and JoJo despite any past on-set tension. In January, Abby voiced support for the star on Instagram after she came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. JoJo reposted Abby's tribute on her Instagram Story.

"The coolest thing that people call me is a gay icon," the teen told E! News. "I think that is so cool. My life has changed a lot since coming out. It's weird because it's like, the way that has changed is I'm happier, if that makes sense. Like, nothing with my career has really been like a significant change or crazy, but it's like, everything has."

After coming out, JoJo went public with her relationship with girlfriend Kylie Prew. But she isn't labeling her sexual orientation.

"My sexuality label? You could call it anything you want," JoJo told E! News. "Here's where I'm at. I'm in love with a girl. I've only ever been in love with one human, and it's this human. Does that make me a lesbian? Yeah. I've always been open to anything. Does that make me a pansexual? Yeah. I've only loved, and have been in love with one person. Does that make me demisexual? Yeah. Or found attraction to one person? Yes. Do I not know anything? Queer! Yes! Great!"

JoJo continued, "Have I had a boyfriend? Yes. Do I have a girlfriend now? Yes. Does that make me bisexual? Yes. Am I bisexual, though now? No. There's so many labels that you can put on it. I think, for me, happy is probably the best label."


From Variety:

JoJo Siwa on Portraying Herself in ‘The J Team,’ Wanting to Play Lady Gaga in a Biopic

JoJo Siwa’s brand has always been happiness.

She first burst onto the scene as the daughter of one of Lifetime’s titular “Dance Moms,” where she became known not just for her dance moves, but for the way she accessorized. Siwa wore bright, sparkly bows in her hair at all times, to some of the moms’ dismay — or perhaps it was just her perpetual grin that irked them.

Siwa is now 18, but the signature bows haven’t gone anywhere, and neither has her positive attitude. Both are essential to the plot of “The J Team,” the new Paramount Plus film that she executive produces and stars in as herself. This version of JoJo, along with her best friends “The Rubies,” must face a mean-spirited new dance coach named Poppy, played by Tisha Campbell. Poppy wants nothing more than to use dance to crush others’ dreams, imposing an all-grey uniform, a universal ban on sparkles and a mandate that JoJo learns how to suppress her individuality. To no one’s surprise, JoJo finds that task impossible.

Jada Pinkett Smith’s ‘Red Table Talk’ Signs Podcast Deal With iHeartMedia (Podcast News Roundup)
Siwa spoke to Variety about the joys of filming “The J Team,” whether coming out has affected her career and her monster-sized career goals.

As you’ve done many times in your career, you play yourself in “The J Team.” Were you involved in creating the story idea? 
Oh, yeah. So actually, in the beginning, my mom came up with the idea to do this musical. We pitched it to Nickelodeon and they loved it. There’s no way anybody could write or produce or act as JoJo better than I can. You know what I mean? And luckily, we have an incredible writer for this film. [Eydie Faye] was amazing, and she wrote the lines for me exactly how I would say them. She really did her homework, and she knew everything about me. Writing the script was a whole process that I was super involved with. Everything down to production design — I mean everything.

JoJo Siwa projects are always bright and joyful on screen, so how does that energy carry over behind the scenes? Any favorite memories from shooting?
Behind the scenes is really fun. Something that’s funny, actually, is we were at a barn. We shot most of our stuff out of a barn. And now, a barn is pretty … sound-y. It’s not very soundproof. We called it the Bermuda Triangle because we were surrounded by three different airports. So we had, every five minutes, an airplane going over us. When you’re filming a movie, you have to hold every time there’s an airplane or helicopter or a train, and we had those three sounds all the time. So the amount of times that we’d be filming and we’d have to just pause and listen and wait was wild. 

I liked getting to work with Tisha [Campbell], she was really fun. She and I had a lot of fun together. And whenever we’d be in the hair and makeup trailer, that was always fun. My makeup artist [Jennifer Kaminski] and I would go back and forth scaring each other all the time. That was always a blast.

Tell me more about Tisha Campbell. What was it like working with her? Did she teach you anything special?
Tisha took the role and made it her own. No one expected her to do what she did [as] Miss Poppy, and I think that I’ll carry that throughout my life. She had a vision of what the character was, and she went for it, and everybody loved it.

What about your co-stars, the Rubies? 
Right away, when Kiara [T. Romero], Kerrynton [Jones] and I met, we decided, “We have to be friends. If we want to make the best movie, we have to be real-life friends.” And so we did. We became friends, and we got super close while we were there. It was cool to see how fast the chemistry came to life.

The choreography in the film really matches the personal style you’ve been developing since your “Dance Moms” days. What was it like building those numbers with your choreographer?
[Heather Laura Gray] was so much fun to work with. We got to Canada and we had to have a two-week quarantine. We were hanging out the first day, it was great, then we had a mandatory Zoom for all crew that night. They were like, “By the way, cast rehearsals start tomorrow. 9 a.m.” I was like, “Oh… they do?” We thought we had two weeks off! But Heather made those days fun. Looking back on the film, rehearsing was one of my favorite parts. 

This has been a big year for you outside of “The J Team” as well. Congratulations on coming out in January. How has being out affected your work so far? Have you thought much about playing specifically queer characters or participating in queer media in other ways?
You know, it’s affected my career way less than it’s affected my personal life. My career just kept going. It hasn’t stopped anything. It’s made things more fun, certainly. And on set, when there’s other gay people, it gives you an instant bond. It’s really cool. I’ve just been so happy. It just makes every day better than the last. 

What are some of your dreams for the future of your acting career? What kinds of movies would you like to make?
I want to do a movie kind of like “The Greatest Showman.” And I want to play a character in a musical. 

What do you mean by that, “a character”?
Well, “The J Team,” it’s a musical, but I’m playing myself. So I think that playing a character in a musical — like Hugh Jackman played P.T. Barnum and Zendaya played the acrobat — that’s really cool. You know, I think that playing a character in a musical. And I love musical biopics.

Who would you like to play in a biopic?
Oh, I wanna be Lady Gaga. For sure. That’s number one.

Until then, tell me more about playing yourself in your career so far. “The J Team” has a fictional plot, so are there any big differences between you and your character? Or is it still completely you?
It really is completely me. That was a whole thing before we started filming “The J Team.” Am I playing JoJo, or am I being JoJo? And the line is very fine — I mean, there’s not even a line, it’s so fine. So it was a very big thing to juggle. You can say that I’m playing JoJo, but there’s no such thing. So audience interpretation, whatever you want to take it as, but for me, I’m just being me.


Actress Tisha Campbell-Martin talks new movie | FOX 5 Atlanta

The new film follows a JoJo Siwa as a young girl whose life is turned upside down when her beloved sparkle-loving dance coach is replaced by a tough instructor named Poppy. Multitalented entertainer Tisha Campbell-Martin plays the new coach and joined Good Day to talk all about working on the movie.


JoJo Siwa on 'The J Team' Being Her 'First Big Project' as an Adult (Exclusive)

The J Team is full of milestones for JoJo Siwa. As the 18-year-old performer shares while co-hosting Monday's Entertainment Tonight, the project is defined by a lot of "magical" firsts. 

"It's my first project that's being released as an adult, like, my first big project," she shares. "It was my last project being filmed as a kid, but my first as an adult." 

Siwa stars in the movie as a fictionalized character based on her own famous persona. When her dance group gets a new instructor that doesn't value individuality, she's forced to get rid of her bow and blend in with the rest of the group. 

Learning to accept people for their differences is a theme Siwa wants fans to take away from the movie. "You can not only be who you are, and it's OK, but also, you can be what you want to be, and it's OK," says the multi-hyphenate, who also served as executive producer on The J Team.

"Being the lead in a movie was magical, and then being the executive producer was magical," she says. "... It gave me a great, great, great experience on the film, being on that side of it."

It's a big week for Siwa. In addition to celebrating the release of The J Team on Friday, she'll also be kicking off rehearsals for Dancing With the Stars, and making history as the first contestant with a pro partner of the same sex. 

"When I read the email it was like, 'Would JoJo prefer to dance with a girl or with a boy?' And I was like, 'Wait, that's an option? Let's absolutely do it!'" the Dance Moms alum recalled. "It was a like, 'Whoa, I'm changing the future' [moment], because I have such a kid demographic. It's making it acceptable, and I love that and I'm so proud of that."

Siwa is doing it all with the support of her girlfriend, Kylie. 

"She hypes me up," the Nickelodeon star gushed. "She keeps me on my toes. She's my best friend and she's my girlfriend and I love her so much. And she knows that she's the coolest." 

The J Team premieres on Friday, Sept. 3, exclusively on Paramount+.


Nickelodeon Star JoJo Talks New Movie 'The J Team' | CBS Los Angeles

Nickelodeon star JoJo speaks to CBS2 News This Morning about her new movie-musical "The J Team."

Stream The J Team exclusively on Paramount+! Try it FREE at!

JoJo Siwa on the LGBTQ+ Representation in New Movie ‘The J Team’ | THR Interview

JoJo Siwa spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about her new Nickelodeon musical movie, ‘The J Team,’ streaming exclusively on Paramount+.



JoJo Siwa shares greatest misconception about her — and how she responds to it

The 18-year-old multihyphenate star opens up about her own unique celebrity, as well as coming out as part of the LGBTQ community earlier this year.

My father recently asked me, “Who is JoJo Siwa?"

"She is going to be on ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ but I’ve never heard of her," he added.

I struggled trying to put her massive fame into words for him, a 75-year-old who just figured out how to text photos. My struggle wasn't because she isn't famous, it's almost because she's too famous. I could start with “Dance Moms,” or maybe her huge social media following, or perhaps her inclusion on Time magazine’s 2020 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

But how would she describe her own celebrity?

“I think that it depends on who I'm telling what I do,” the 18-year-old told TODAY. “Sometimes it's easy to tell people that I work for Nickelodeon, sometimes it's easy to tell people that I do YouTube, sometimes it's easier to tell people that I have a book that's a New York Times bestseller, you know that just relates to them more. And so it's just about who I'm telling what I do, and then I just shorten the list by telling what I don’t do.”

The two titles she’s really proud of? Pop star and TV personality.

“I've done a lot of reality TV shows,” she shared. “I sing, I perform, I go on tour. I have sold out over 97 different shows with — what would it be? — like 80 of them arenas. So I've been around the block with that land.”

Been around the block she has. In anticipation of her new film “The J Team” streaming on Paramount+ this Friday, the multihyphenate pop star and TV personality sat down with TODAY for an interview via Zoom where she opened up about coming out as LGBTQ earlier this year, if characters in her new film were based on anyone in real life and the greatest misconceptions out there about her.

Confidence confusions

In 2014, Siwa and her mom, Jess Siwa, rose to prominence first on the "Dance Moms" spinoff "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" before she snagged a role as a "Dance Moms" regular, where she went toe with toe with the brazen dance coach Abby Lee Miller. In Siwa’s film, “The J Team,” Tisha Campbell plays brassy dance teacher Coach Poppy, who Siwa promises was not based on Miller.

When asked if any of the characters in the film were modeled on anyone in real life, Siwa candidly answered, “Everybody's asking me if Coach Poppy is off of Abby Lee and I know that that's what you're asking, so you might as well just straight out ask it.”

“The answer though is no,” she added. “There was actually the original script, some lines that Abby had originally said, you know, stuff like ‘No, no, no crying children’ or stuff like ‘If you yell at me, I'm gonna cry.’ I actually had those lines taken out because I didn't want people to think that it was a dig to Abby.”

Campbell, who told TODAY that she used her mentor Debbie Allen as a model for the character, doubled down that Miller wasn’t used as inspiration in her process.

“I never really watched her on the show, so for me, there was no comparison,” Campbell said. “I'm not trying to be I literally wanted to kind of hone in on this character and make her my own. So I drew from Debbie and exploded her.”

Siwa has had to fight other misconceptions that exist about herself as well. When asked what is the greatest one out there about her, she answered, “That I'm fake.”

“I think a lot of people think that JoJo is a character, and somebody today actually asked me if I was ever gonna put my character to rest,” she said, referring to another interviewer. “I was like, I mean, she's been to rest because she doesn't exist. But I think that a lot of people think that it's not true.”

This comes with the territory of being someone as positive, upbeat and energetic as Siwa. Her world is full of flashy glitter, sparkly sequins, bows, bows and more bows. Some may think this rose-colored approach to life is all put on for show, but Siwa says it’s really who she is at her core.

“I think all the time people think that it’s just not possible,” she said, later adding, “But it is.”

Despite her sunny disposition, Siwa had to overcome some challenges in her career, like being pigeonholed as a dancer when she tried establishing herself as a singer as well.

“The reason why I have so many confidence confusions with singing is mostly because people have told me my whole life that I'm not a singer, that I can't sing, that I'm not a good singer,” she shared. “And that's just engraved in my brain and it's like set in stone in there and so trying to get that out is really, really difficult.”

But sing she does, especially in “The J Team,” which she also executive produced. “Being an executive producer on it gave me a lot more freedom with it, and I think that I really enjoyed that,” she said. “I got to have a say in the creative, saying how it was made and everything, that made me almost love the project more.”

Some seasoned actors might be peeved by an executive producer who's still a teenager, but for Campbell, 50, it was the opposite. The "Martin" star described Siwa as "stoic" and "giving."

“You cross your fingers hoping that the next job that you have, that person doesn't have a big ego and she was nothing like that,” Campbell said of Siwa. “I was so happy when I met her mother and they were so grounded and it really was a wonderful work environment."

Twirling on to new dance floors
Siwa’s rainbow-hued world took on new meaning earlier this year when she came out as part of the LGBTQ community in a post that was heard ’round the internet.

On what she’s learned through her coming out journey, she said “how much I love love,” adding, “How much I love feeling it, how much I love just like having that version of love in my life.”

The love of her life right now is her girlfriend, Kylie Prew. The couple began dating earlier this year after being friends for more than a year. Siwa was lauded by activists and advocates for coming out the way she did at only 17 years old, setting an example for other teens and parents in her massive Nickelodeon fan base. This has caused some to already call her a gay icon.

“It’s the coolest thing ever,” she said of her icon status, adding that her own idols are Freddie Mercury and Lady Gaga. “I never thought I'd be called (a gay icon). I mean, I thought it'd be called gay for sure, but I never thought icon would come after. It's a really big honor.”

"I am who I am. But I'm not like, ‘Oh my God. No, I'm not this, you know what I mean?” - JOJO SIWA

Siwa is still coming to terms with exactly how she identifies, as the dictionary of the LGBTQ community becomes longer each day.

“I'm dating a girl; that can make me a lesbian. I've never really been in love with anybody or found attraction to anybody except for Kylie and so therefore it could be demisexual. I've never minded who I would be with, if it would be a girl, a boy, (someone) trans,” she said. “But then I also think, so that could be pansexual… The l-word isn't my favorite word but I like the q-word. I like queer, it's kind of... I am who I am. But I'm not like, ‘Oh my God. No, I'm not this, you know what I mean?”

Many words and phrases can be used to describe how she identifies, and Siwa is fine with keeping it that way. But "trailblazing," above all else, is definitely one term that can be used whenever talking about her in any context, especially right now. Siwa is about to star on the 30th season of “Dancing With the Stars,” becoming the first contestant ever in the American franchise of the reality competition series to be paired with a professional dancer of the same sex.

“At 18, JoJo Siwa is once again using her platform to inspire and uplift the LGBTQ community. As one of today’s most watched and celebrated programs on television, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and Tyra Banks are making the right decision to feature JoJo Siwa competing alongside a female professional dancer," Anthony Allen Ramos, head of talent at the LGBTQ media advocacy organization GLAAD, said in a statement to TODAY. "The show has such a wide, far-reaching audience and there is a real opportunity here for people to celebrate the same-sex pairing and root for JoJo and all LGBTQ young people.”

For young people who may be struggling with coming out or figuring out their own sexuality, Siwa says that it’s never too late to be yourself, but waiting until you're ready is also totally OK.

“I think that a lot of people are scared of coming out,” she said. “You just have to know when it's right for you and if it doesn't feel right for you, just wait. You know there's no rush. It's you, and you're going to do what you want to do and you get to celebrate being a part of the LGBT community as you wish, but I don't think it's a rush.

“When you're ready to be open about it, you'll know who your people are.”


JoJo Siwa reveals the heartbreaking reason she thinks the internet has turned on her: 'Feeding the monster'

JoJo Siwa is the personification of the confetti and sparkles that explode in the air when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. She’s all energy, enthusiasm and charisma on screen, and it’s not just for the cameras. 

She got her big break on the infamous show Dance Moms, but eventually made a name for herself as a popstar who caters specifically to young kids. Now that she’s 18, she’s got a starring role and an executive producer credit under her belt for her movie, The J Team.

In The J Team, JoJo plays herself. Literally. Her plot may be fictionalized to remove the fact that she’s an ultra-famous social media star, but she’s all JoJo — singing, dancing and smiling the whole hour and a half, only facing conflict when others want to dull her sparkle. She shines throughout, and she shines when the cameras stop rolling, too. 

JoJo has amassed 36 million followers on TikTok, making her the 22nd most followed user on the platform. Those followers have changed dramatically over the past few years, too. Though JoJo’s commercial image is marketed toward a younger audience of children and preteens — she has a merchandise deal with Nickelodeon and a hair bow subscription box — she’s also unexpectedly attracted an audience of older Gen Zers and younger Millennials. 

When I met JoJo to talk to her about her new movie The J Team, I fully expected to find that she wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Who could be after working so many hours and living through such a dystopian era? I only had a few minutes with her, and she was literally there to promote herself, but I could tell her tone shifted when she talked about her personal life. Her confident voice, still boldly projecting over Zoom as if she were on stage, softened to reveal her guard was down. 

I asked why she thinks she has so many older fans, given the fact that everything from her music (with songs like “Dance Through the Day” and “Nobody Can Change Me!”) to her appearance (like that of an anthropomorphic rainbow) to her car (a Tesla covered in images of her own face) is the kind of thing anyone over the age of 16 might be a bit skeptical of.

“You know, for the longest time, people didn’t like me. Teenagers didn’t like me,” she told me, referring to the age group that seemingly dominates TikTok and YouTube. “But then over quarantine, I started doing what I call ‘feeding the monster.’ The JoJo hate monster. People would make fun of me, so I would make fun of myself back.”

JoJo referenced a TikTok post from May 2020 in which she referenced her own receding hairline, which is likely the consequence of years of wearing her signature high ponytail. Bullies have been pointing that out about her since she was 15.

“What are you going to say back to that — feeding the monster?” she said. “Throughout time, I started to show them another side of me. I was scared of teenagers, but I’m also a teenager. We’re homies.” 

For JoJo to credit the fact that she’s beloved by so many to her ability to make fun of herself is humble, but I have to disagree. Celebrities make fun of themselves all the time, especially on TikTok where comments are so prominent. But the perception of JoJo has shifted from “silly little kid” to “quirky little sister.” 

In the summer of 2020, JoJo began posting more videos of herself in which she both literally and figuratively let her hair down. She shed the glitter and the bows and revealed a gorgeous but relatable side of herself with long curly locks and T-shirts. 

The way that commenters went wild over each of those posts reveals exactly what people were expecting of her. They wanted JoJo — an over-the-top star seemingly made in a lab to entertain children — to have her Miley Cyrus “Wrecking Ball” moment, where she sheds her family-friendly image for one that’s more raunchy and real. 

When YouTube makeup guru James Charles gave JoJo a makeover in August 2020, back before he encountered a major scandal, she called it one of the “scariest” moments of her career. So why was dropping her typical look — which she described in the video as “giant toddler with a receding hairline” so horrifying? 

It’s a new side of her to show the public, for certain, which can be a scary experience for anyone with such a big following, regardless of age. But maybe the JoJo we’ve always seen is just … the real JoJo.

When I spoke to JoJo’s collaborators from The J Team, both the first-time actors who were her own age and the industry veterans who played authority figures in the film, their comments were all the same — JoJo is the energy-filled powerhouse she seems to be, but she’s also an inspiration.

“I feel like I learned a lot from her and she’s an extremely hard worker. But also she can have fun, you know, so the whole time we’re laughing in between every take,” said Kiara T. Romero, a relatively new actress who played one of JoJo’s friends in the movie. “But then when it came down to it, we got our work done.” 

Kerrynton Jones, a dancer-turned-actress who also played one of JoJo’s best friends, said JoJo brought incredible energy to the shoots but stayed “on it.” If someone forgot their line, JoJo was ready. She knew everything about the movie she helped create.

“She’s an incredible leader and the energy that she brought to set even when our days were 15 hours long, she was smiling and so focused the entire day. And it was just incredible energy to be around,” said Julia Marley, the “mean girl” of The J Team. “I hope to take that with me throughout my whole life.”

Tisha Campbell-Martin and Laura Soltis, two veteran actresses, also applauded JoJo’s work in the film, called her “sweet,” “positive,” “loving” and “supportive” and agreed they’d both work with her any time. 

People who know JoJo personally clearly love her, but what can we make of all her older fans who went from poking fun at her to spamming her comments sections with love and support? 

Jake Arlow, an author who said she is “the biggest over-20 JoJo Siwa fan ever,” told me she “sobbed tears of joy” when JoJo came out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community in a casual TikTok post one day in January 2021. In fact, dozens of fans mentioned how much it meant to them that JoJo is a role model that young LGBTQIA+ kids can look up to.

JoJo’s gushing posts about her girlfriend and staunch commitment to the double meaning of her rainbow attire are just two more ways in which she is unapologetically herself.

“I was so comforted by her brashness, by how loud and unapologetic she is, I’ve watched full videos of her concerts and I have a smile on my face the whole time … I love her,” Arlow continued. 

Dami, a 22-year-old fan of JoJo, said she only saw her as “the bow girl” until 2020 when her collaboration with James Charles went viral. 

“She came off as a fun and interesting individual and a breath of fresh air in an era where most teens are growing up way too soon,” Dami told me. “Overall she’s just a fun person and I’m glad the internet no longer bullies her like they once unfairly did.” 

Other fans noted that she completely crushed at the MLB Celebrity All-Star softball game, “hitting a double off of Quavo” while her braids were covered in blingy rhinestones. Her upcoming turn on Dancing with the Stars has already made history, as she’s going to be a part of the first same-sex couple on the show. 

In our interview, JoJo told me that she challenged The J Team’s director multiple times over what her character would say or do in a certain scenario. They had a tense relationship at first, but at the end of the process, became like family. But she made it clear that she was in control of her own life on screen, which reflects the way she’s perceived by those older fans off-screen. 

“I’m like, I’m going to get my way … and it was cool to have that say,” she said. “I’m not playing a character. Nobody can tell me how to play me better than I can just play me … I was very empowered, very inspired and felt like I could take on the world and conquer anything.” 

JoJo’s sparkling and sincere persona seems to have melted the cold hearts of internet trolls far beyond her self-deprecating TikToks. She’s showing young people that they can embrace their identities and interests and the most complicated and over-the-top parts of themselves and make it into something dazzling. 


Originally published: August 28, 2021.

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