Maybe you’ve heard of her, maybe you haven’t. You can bet, though, that your children have. Her name is JoJo Siwa and she has gone from an annoying TV reality star at a very young age to one of the most popular YouTube and Nickelodeon sensations in recent memory. She has her own line of hair bows, she has a doll, a beverage, a clothing line, and her own line of slime. If this sounds a lot for one person, it is. Just wait until you hear how old she is.
JOJO MAKES EARLY IMPRESSIONS
JoJo Siwa was born in Omaha, Nebraska to a lifestyle that is miles away from where she now sits. Her father Tom was a chiropractor (still is) and her mom, Jessalyn, was a dance-studio owner and by the time JoJo was two years old, the die was cast. “When my husband would come pick her up at the [dance] studio, she would not want to leave at night,” Jessalyn recalls to Rolling Stone. “She was two years old; couldn’t even dance or do anything. She was like, ‘I just want to stay with you.’”
Jessalyn also recalled JoJo’s first solo dance competition, dancing to the song “Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now,” from the musical Hairspray. While Jessalyn sprinkled glitter on her dancing daughter, Jojo wore a diaper. She was only two years old. “From then, I literally ran with it,” Jessalyn says proudly. “We had a CD player in our kitchen, so I would always be making mac and cheese, and [say], ‘Oh, let’s do a dance.’ And she would just do her dance.” Her dancing became so beloved that guests would request to see it. “I would literally wake her up [at night] and she would do her dance,” Jessalyn recalled.
This early drive turned into an eventual opportunity. Jessalyn saw this opportunity in an open call for the reality show, Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition. It was an elimination-style show that had kids fighting for a spot in Abby Lee Miller’s dance company. Miller was also the creator of the reality series Dance Moms.
The audition tape Jessalyn sent in impressed the show’s producers enough to bring JoJo into the competition. But it wasn’t only her dancing that got her noticed, but her personality as well. “She was one of those rare personalities that I couldn’t stop thinking about,” said the series’ executive producer Bryan Stinson. Ultimately, though, JoJo Siwa would be eliminated and finish in fifth place. But still, her presence had been felt. “During shooting, the crew would gather in the control room to watch JoJo’s interviews live because they were so compelling,” Stinson recalled. “Producers nicknamed them ‘The JoJo Show’.”
Despite coming in a disappointing fifth place, JoJo and Jessalyn were asked to be part of the Dance Moms series. It was a move that put even more of a spotlight on both mother and daughter, and not for good reasons. JoJo Siwa was the ultimate diva and Jessalyn was the ultimate dance mom. Miller was not pleased with either, chastising the pair for their unprofessionalism and for how they constantly crossed the line with their comments directed towards Miller, the other dance moms, and the girls in the competition.
All this negativity fit perfectly with what was to come next for JoJo Siwa – a redemption tale. JoJo’s redemption came via YouTube and it is something she has not looked back from since. JoJo launched her YouTube channel during her two-year run on the reality shows and since that time, she has earned over 12 million subscribers. That is just the tip of the iceberg.
HOW OLD IS JOJO SIWA?
JoJo Siwa is now 19 years old and in full control of her image and business but she has some help along the way. Things really began to jump for JoJo when she and Jessalyn met Caryn Sterling, who is now JoJo’s manager. When they first met, Sterling was pushing jewelry her daughter had made and was looking for dancers to help promote it. JoJo was one of the dancers Sterling reached out to. Shortly after they met, Sterling got to listen to JoJo’s ideas as they pertained to her future. Sterling then had her vision of JoJo Siwa.
“I said, ‘Be careful with the choices you make through your teenage years because you’re gonna be famous,’” Sterling recalled. Jessalyn added to that, “She wanted JoJo to be a brand. And I’m like, ‘I’m in. Let’s do it.’” Boy, did they ever.
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As JoJo Siwa’s YouTube channel continued to bring in big numbers, Sterling found JoJo her first big business venture – Claire’s. Sterling was able to strike a partnership with the accessories chain and that was the beginning of a very important relationship for both JoJo and the popular mall store.
Sales were beginning to dip for Claire’s and they needed some new life breathed into their name. JoJo Siwa came along with her style of bow and in 2016 the store decided to run a test to see if the product would take off. Jojo Siwa’s age was almost a plus in this way. “The test took off immediately,” said Julie Splendoria, senior global license buyer for Claire’s. “JoJo came at such a critical moment in time, knowing that kids were so influenced by their phones,” she added. “I think it really did set the stage for retailers to get behind social media stars in a major way.”
JoJo Siwa’s star was on the rise even at a young age. Her YouTube channel was blowing up, she was in business with Claire’s, and now Nickelodeon was calling. They were looking for someone to be the voice for the “tween girl” and JoJo was a perfect fit. “It’s always been that kids admire their parents, admire politicians, best friends, athletes, celebrities,” claimed Pam Kaufman, president of consumer products at Viacom/Nickelodeon. “All of a sudden, the latest research that came into our room said that next to parents, the most important and influential people in kids’ lives were influencers.”
She starred in JoJo’s Juice for Nickelodeon as well as made appearances on a number of other series such as Nickelodeon’s Sizzling Summer Camp Special, School of Rock (TV series), MTV Cribs, The JoJo & BowBow Show Show, and The Kendall K. & Friends Show. Through it all, though, JoJo never forgets what got her started. “I never forget where I came from with YouTube,” JoJo explained to Rolling Stone in 2019. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.”
JOJO SIWA’S NET WORTH
In JoJo’s short 19 years she has amassed a nice little fortune while making her stamp on the world. Joelle Siwa’s net worth is estimated at $20 million dollars but that figure may actually be low. Fans claim that because she has sold in the neighborhood of 40 million bow ribbons that it pushes her net worth much higher. Why quibble over a few million?
BEST. GAY. COUSIN. EVER.
While JoJo Siwa has avoided controversy for the most part since her Dance Mom days, she recently decided to make a major announcement that a few fans did not see coming. In August 2020, Siwa was dating TikTok star Mark Bontempo, a relationship that last four months. So, when she took to Twitter to tell the world her cousin got her a new t-shirt, fans were probably not expecting what the writing on the t-shirt read: Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever. Yes, JoJo Siwa decided to come clean. She has received over 800,000 likes from her announcement.
“Since I came out to the world last year, I have received so much love from the LGBTQ community,” Siwa said to iHeart Radio. “I really am so happy and so proud to be living as my full and authentic self.” She added, “It’s a pretty cool feeling and I think we can all maybe agree even a little scary at first but the most worth-it thing ever.”
JoJo Siwa met her girlfriend while they were on a cruise and were immediate friends. Their friendship turned into much more and Siwa went public on her Instagram. “After being my best friend for over a year … I got to start calling this exceptional human my girlfriend. Since then, I’ve been the happiest I have ever been! She seriously is the most loving, supportive, happiest, protective, and just the most beautiful perfect person in the world. And I get to call her mine!”