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She's Just A Kid At Heart
At fifteen, she's already enjoyed a career longer than a lot of Hollywood stars. Fame can make a kid grow up fast, but JoJo pushes back against that pressure.
Watchers of JoJo's Juice and followers on Musical.ly don't see a scripted, choreographed, highly produced commodity. Instead, they see their idol being, well, a normal teenager — clowning around with friends, playing pranks, dancing like crazy in her own living room. She understands that people want to see the real her, and her authenticity is one of the things that resonates so deeply with her fan base.
Reflecting to Kidscreen about her popularity, she mused, "Why me? Why am I so big? It's so crazy. Maybe it's that I'm relatable, I'm a kid. I think that has to be what it is."CHAPTER 2
She's A Midwestern Girl In A Hollywood World
Born May 19, 2003, Joelle Joanie Siwa spent her formative years in Omaha. And though JoJo has been in the biz since she was a little girl, the strong, midwestern values with which she was raised are still deeply rooted in her. "My parents were all about family values and making sure [my brother and I] stay[ed] grounded," she writes in JoJo's Guide to the Sweet Life. It's what makes her the wholesome role model that her fans know and love.
No matter how far her career has come, she still remembers where she came from. Accepting her first big award at Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards, a stunned JoJo said, "I'm from Nebraska and I'm out here and I just won a Kids' Choice Award."CHAPTER 3
She Loves The '80S!
All it takes is one look at JoJo's oversized hair bows and side ponytail — this girl loves the 1980s! JoJo seems to take all her fashion cues from the decade's fun shapes and neon brights — everything from rainbows to unicorns to sequins, sequins, sequins! "My theory is that I was actually born in the eighties and the government transplanted me to the present day. Just check the way I dress if you need proof," she quips in her autobiography, JoJo's Guide to the Sweet Life.
But it's not just her clothes. The singer, who threw a huge '80s-themed bash for her thirteenth birthday, puts that '80s stamp on her music too. That same playfulness is evident in her songs, which echo the upbeat mood and playful rhythms of the best '80s ladies, from Cyndi "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" Lauper to Madonna, whose iconic '80s-fabulous look was not complete without a giant hair bow.CHAPTER 4
She's Got Bling For Her "Boomerang"
JoJo's single "Boomerang" is more than just a catchy dance tune. It's an anthem for Siwanatorz, a call to arms to people everywhere to stand up to bullying — and withstand it. As of this writing, the music video, which features JoJo's real-life besties from Nebraska to L.A. and beyond, boasts more than 600 million views.
But it's far from just a viral hit. In August 2018 the single was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), eclipsing the 1 million mark in sales. Not bad for a kid who grew up wanting to be a real-life Hannah Montana.CHAPTER 5
She's Always Been BFFs With Her Mom
A lot of people assume that since Jessalynn owned a dance studio and is a former dancer herself, she thrust JoJo into the spotlight. Quite the contrary, says JoJo, who writes in her autobiography, "I was never forced to dance, or to do anything I've done over the years — but if I wanted it, my mom was right there encouraging and investing her time and energy into it." Anyone can see it, looking at them on-screen: there's a lot of love there.
And they've been in lockstep throughout JoJo's rise to fame. Her mom has been her choreographer, her teacher, her comanager, and her all-time wingwoman. It's led to a relationship far beyond mother-daughter, including being best friends. (They even have code names for each other: the respective names of their BFFs back home in Omaha: Halle and Kim.)CHAPTER 6
She Was A Baby Diva
JoJo's love of dancing started practically at birth. She can recall being a kid, hanging out at her mom's dance studio and watching the older girls as they practiced their routines. It was an early education for a dancer, and she made the most of it.
Her first competitive dance solo came at the age of two at the Kids Artistic Revue. Still in diapers, she performed her "Baby Diva" dance routine to the song "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" from the musical Hairspray. Luckily, the Siwas were taping the performance. If JoJo felt nervous, it doesn't show. She has all the confidence and poise and sparkly rhinestone bow-ness that she possesses today. Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrjHrbV8u3k to see the cuteness for yourself!CHAPTER 7
She Embraces Her Inner Nerd
Learning is the bedrock of JoJo's work ethic. "In order to be really good at anything, you have to be willing to work hard and be a little different and embrace your inner nerd," she writes in her autobiography. And for a self-starter such as JoJo, homeschooling has always been the perfect fit. From an early age, it's allowed her to be more flexible with her schedule, first accommodating the demands of competitive dance and now her current and unpredictable Hollywood life.
More important, it's allowed her to apply her laser focus to subjects that interest her. It was her idea to add computer classes on video editing and recording software to her curriculum. That's no small thing when you consider that without that training, the YouTube galaxy would have been without one of its brightest stars.CHAPTER 8
She's Been Bullied Too
Unfortunately, like everyone has or will be at some point, JoJo has endured her fair share of bullying, both in person and online. But she knows the secret to overcoming negativity. It all starts with perspective.
She vividly remembers her first encounter with Internet haters, when she was an eight-year-old reality show contestant. She was in tears, but her mom quickly brought her back to earth by accentuating the positive. Relating the story to Smart Entertainment Group, she remembered her mom's reaction. "Why would you respond to the one [comment] that's mean?" her mom asked. "Respond to the thousand that are nice and loving and caring."
From there came JoJo's three-pronged strategy for dealing with online criticism: "a) [don't] listen to it, b) listen to the happy ones, and c) delete and block," JoJo continued to SEG.CHAPTER 9
She's Musical.ly Talented
Every one of JoJo's 15 million fans on Musical.ly could tell you that she's perfectly suited for the platform. The social networking app, which launched in 2014, was created as a vehicle for users to create, cut, and upload their own music videos. Today, it's one of the most popular apps available.
JoJo's offerings range from the humorous to the sincere, and many showcase her eye-popping dancing abilities. She's done everything from performing silly Snapchat-inspired lip-sync renditions to intricately choreographed routines to singing while standing on her head and dressed as a Minion. Her goofiness, wide-ranging music tastes, and undeniable dance chops make her a perfect Musical.ly muse.CHAPTER 10
She Thinks Miller Is Abby-Solutely Fabulous!
JoJo got her big break as a featured dancer on Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition at age eight, and was a Dance Moms mainstay in seasons four through six. And while JoJo often clashed with the indomitable Abby Lee Miller, the two developed a deep mutual respect for one another. Aside from her mother, there is no individual who has been more influential on JoJo's career to this point.
Miller has faced adversity of late, including legal trouble and a battle with cancer, and JoJo has stood by her mentor through it all. After a visit to Miller in the hospital in May 2018, JoJo posted on Instagram, "Abby you have changed my life for forever [sic], I am so thankful for everything you have done for me (Table manners, how to survive in a plastic bubble, and more)! Thank you for letting us come by and visit you today! I love you. FOREVER."CHAPTER 11
She Cares About Giving Back
JoJo is a strong anti-bullying advocate, and the people around the world who wear JoJo Bows make a powerful statement about empowerment. It's an issue to which JoJo remains fiercely devoted, but it's far from the only cause to which she's given her time and attention.
Inspired by her mentor and friend Abby Lee Miller's battle with cancer, JoJo recently presented Miller with a $10,000 check for Dancers Against Cancer. It's a cause JoJo has been involved with for years (she's pictured opposite attending a 2017 DAC benefit with guests). She has also represented the animal advocacy group the Lucy Pet Foundation and the T.J. Martell Foundation for cancer research, and she granted the wishes of young fans for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, among other very worthy causes.CHAPTER 12
She's Got Juice
It started out as a simple idea. Every Wednesday JoJo would post a vlog and answer questions from her followers. The finale? Why, pouring juice all over herself, of course! JoJo's Juice started out as a daffy idea, but her 8 million-plus YouTube subscribers anxiously awaited each weekly post.
"The greatest thing about it is she literally was doing it all herself, from filming to editing to thumbnails to producing," Jessalynn told USA Today. "To see her have the success is really just the cherry on top."
Alas, all good things must come to an end. In February 2018 she announced that she was releasing her last JoJo's Juice. Still, followers can see original content from JoJo on her various channels and social media accounts — even YouTube. "It's my passion and I want to do it forever," she told Kidscreen.CHAPTER 13
She Has A Knack For Languages
JoJo certainly seems to have no trouble with words — the girl can talk a mile a minute. But did you know that she can also speak other languages? She picked up loads of Korean when her family hosted an exchange student in their home back in the day. (To this day, she gets excited when she's asked to speak in Korean.) But that's not all — she knows Spanish and Russian too. Is there anything she can't do?CHAPTER 14
She Knows The Value Of Friendship
Watch her YouTube channel, her Instagram, or her music videos and you see it. JoJo's got squad goals, and one of them is surrounding herself with those people she cares about. True Siwanatorz can rattle off the names of her fellow Dance Moms crew, identify the pals in "Boomerang," (such as Kendall Vertes, opposite), and know Miranda Sings as well as they do JoJo. She credits her friends — from her hometown pals to fellow YouTubers to the cast and crew she hangs with on various sets — with keeping her sane in a crazy world.
And she remembers to always nurture those relationships. Her outlook is simple: "If you want really good friends, you've got to be a really good friend! Same goes for attracting good people in your life in the first place — if you put kindness out there, you're more likely to get it back," she advises in her autobiography. Words to live by.CHAPTER 15
She's A Sucker (Get It?) For Candy
It's only fitting that someone with as sweet and bubbly a personality as JoJo would be consumed by a candy obsession, right? Siwa's candy-coated fixation is next-level. The evidence? Well, she has a song called "Kid in a Candy Store," she has a signature nail and makeup line called Sweet Like Candy ... heck, she even dresses like a rainbow-colored confection. Oh, and let's not forget that her autobiography, JoJo's Guide to the Sweet Life, is candy-themed, with each chapter named after a certain sweet treat.CHAPTER 16
She's An Adrenaline Junkie!
Siwanatorz know how much energy JoJo has. But when she's not singing, dancing, acting, recording and cutting YouTube posts, or working on one of the many, many projects she has going, she takes time to relax ... right? Far from it! Her idea of a relaxing afternoon is spending her time living dangerously.
"The one thing I love to do to just be a normal kid is going down to iFLY at Citywalk in Universal Studios," she told YayOMG.com. "It's amazing. It's indoor skydiving and it's the one semi-dangerous thing my mom will actually let me do."CHAPTER 17
She's Got Puppy Love
JoJo grew up in a house filled with dogs. And to the Siwas, like many families, those pups are truly part of the family. JoJo has said often that at the end of a tough day, there's no better comfort than going home to her Yorkshire terrier, BowBow, for some unconditional love and snuggles (a cure-all, as many dog owners can attest).
But BowBow is no ordinary dog. Look no further than her Instagram page, @itsbowbowsiwa, to check out her glamorous life wearing crystal-studded hair bows and nibbling Chewy Vuiton bones! Besides being one of the best-dressed dogs in Hollywood, BowBow is also a celebrity in her own right. JoJo's book JoJo Loves BowBow chronicles a day in the life of the pampered pooch. The dog has her own video game avatar, a stuffed animal miniature, and as of the fall of 2018, her own animated series, The JoJo and BowBow Show Show.CHAPTER 18
She Wants Her Fans To Stand For Something
Siwanator is more than just a term for a fan of JoJo Siwa. It's a whole way of thinking. It's about how you treat others and, just as important, how you treat yourself.
"Being a Siwanator means being confident, positive, and supportive of others," JoJo writes in her autobiography. It's about being kind — even to the bullies. It's about knowing who you are and not compromising your own integrity. It's about embracing people's differences as well as their commonalities. It's a mind-set that resonates among Siwanatorz, and that love and support for one another is evident within their community. It's all about positivity. It's the unshakable bond that links JoJo's legion of fans.CHAPTER 19
She's Animated In More Ways Than One
Sure, JoJo is bright and bubbly and hilarious — the very definition of animated. But did you know she also has a cartoon likeness? Nickelodeon's animated series The JoJo and BowBow Show Show follows the titular duo as they navigate the adventures of a world-famous pop star and her pampered pooch, from concert shenanigans to fashion shows to blisteringly jealous French poodles. JoJo (who else?) voices her own character on the show. And for anyone wondering if there's anything cuter than BowBow IRL, check out cartoon BowBow!CHAPTER 20
She's Her Dad's Mini-Me
A lot of people assume JoJo is a carbon copy of her mom, especially because the two of them have been linked in the spotlight for so long. But it's actually her dad, Tom, with whom she most closely identifies. "My dad and me, we're two peas in a pod," she writes in her memoir. "It's a good thing we have my brother and my mom to keep us grounded!"
According to JoJo, she and her dad are the ones who can't sit still. She gets her energy, her competitive spirit, her tenacity, and her sense of humor from her dad. They're also more likely to have their heads in the clouds. Luckily there's balance in the Siwa household; Jessalynn and Jayden are calm and steady.CHAPTER 21
She's A Natural Brunette
Ask anyone, and they'll tell you that JoJo is real. As the star explained on her YouTube channel, "A lot of people think like 'JoJo' is fake or 'JoJo' is a character. But ...you guys know me — this is how I always am."
Still, there's one thing about JoJo that isn't real: her hair color! It turns out that Jessalynn started bleaching JoJo's hair when she was a young competitive dancer. Ultimately, the flowing blond ponytail has become part of JoJo's signature look.
Curious what she looks like with dark hair? Check out her Instagram for a pic of a certain pint-sized brunette!CHAPTER 22
She Has Her Own Video Game Likeness
Fans of JoJo can see her vlogs on her YouTube channel, connect with her via social media, or just tune in to Nickelodeon. And now that JoJo has been added to Star Stable, they can also interact with her avatar online. The game, which boasts players from 182 countries worldwide, is a multiplayer problem-solving and adventure game in which players explore the fictional world of Jorvik on horseback — leaving time to take brief stops at the disco to dance with their favorite bow-bedecked pop star, of course!CHAPTER 23
She Loves A Good Hashtag
Like any good Instagrammer and Twitterer, she's aces when it comes to crafting hashtags. She's got it all covered, from silly (#icanmakeyoudance, #bowsmakeeverythingbetter) to inspirational (#dreamcrazybig, #girlsneverquit). She even added a hashtag to her autobiography title: #peaceouthaterz!
Most important, she's getting the word out about what really matters to her: putting a stop to bullying. Fans are picking up on JoJo's positive vibes, spreading #bestiesnotbullies and #beyourselfie the world wide!(Continues…)
Excerpted from "JoJo Siwa"
Copyright © 2018 Katy Sprinkel.
Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
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