What JoJo Siwa was like before the fame

YouTube sensation Joelle “JoJo” Siwa has dominated just about every single social media platform, including TikTok, where she has upward of 24 million followers as of this writing. Thanks to her bubbly personality and penchant for colorful, oversized bows, as well as her eye-catching outfits, JoJo continues to be a fan favorite among young people. It also doesn’t hurt that the entertainer inked a massive deal with Nickelodeon in 2017, giving her the chance to show off her acting and dancing skills to viewers. JoJo has churned out various songs during this time, including “Boomerang,” “D.R.E.A.M.,” and “Bop!,” to name a few classics.

Now that we’ve caught you up on JoJo’s fame, let’s take a look back at her very humble beginnings. Not only did the star grow up far away from her current home in Los Angeles, but she has two defunct shows to thank for her impressive career.

JoJo Siwa made a splash on 'Dance Moms'

When JoJo Siwa was 9, she joined Season 2 of Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition, a Lifetime reality show about girls competing for a $100,000 dance scholarship to New York’s Joffrey Ballet School. The competition was judged by Abby Lee Miller, Richy Jackson, and Robin Antin. 

The show was short-lived, but it paved the way for JoJo’s role on Season 5 of Dance Moms, starring Miller. The dancer moved to Los Angeles from Nebraska with her mom, Jessalynn Siwa, for the role, and she quickly adapted to the drama of reality TV. “Abby would say, ‘She can’t wear a bow tomorrow,’ and I’d be like, ‘Abby, you can’t tell us what to wear,'” Jessalynn told TIME about stirring the spot. “Then I would come home, and I would be like, ‘JoJo, Abby doesn’t want you to wear a bow tomorrow,’ and she’d go, ‘That’s it. I’m wearing a bigger bow.'”

Despite the drama, Abby liked JoJo immediately. “She has that certain je ne sais quoi, and she’s shining bright,” she said during a Dance Moms episode about JoJo’s introduction to the group. This created tension among the girls, as Mackenzie Ziegler and Kalani Hilliker didn’t seem to appreciate her presence. “I think JoJo is crazy and nuts, and she talks a lot,” Kalani complained.

JoJo ended up securing a spot on the ALDC dance team but left the show after Season 6 to pursue her career with Nickelodeon. The rest is history.

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