The Transformation Of JoJo Siwa From Childhood To 20 Years Old

JoJo Siwa was born to be in the spotlight. With over 11 million followers on Instagram, 12.2 million on YouTube, and upwards of 45.5 million on TikTok, the life of the dancer, singer, and bona fide ball of energy revolves around her public image and her interactions with the world. The young star started performing before she could barely put words together, showing the spotlight is where she belongs.

Siwa gained widespread recognition in 2013 when she was cast in the Lifetime dance reality show "Abby Lee's Ultimate Dance Competition," a spinoff of "Dance Moms." The 9-year-old and youngest star of Season 2 was eliminated during Week 9, placing fifth overall. Two years later, Siwa returned to the small screen with her mother, Jessalynn, to appear as a performer on "Dance Moms," both of whom became key participants of the show. "I would say it's my mission in life to make JoJo a star," Jessalynn once said on the competition program (via The Washington Post).

Siwa quickly proved that she shines in front of the camera, no matter what she's doing. Even as a teenager, she could nail interviews like she had been doing it all her life. "During shooting, the crew would gather in the control room to watch JoJo's interviews live because they were so compelling," Bryan Stinson, producer of "Dance Moms," told Rolling Stone. She may be young, but she has evolved quite a bit over the years.

Jojo Siwa began competing when she was 2

As the daughter of a dance instructor and owner of a studio in Omaha, Nebraska, JoJo Siwa has been dancing since her diaper days. "From the time she could walk, JoJo was at the studio every day, hanging out with me," Jessalynn Siwa told the Telegraph Herald in 2013. JoJo was only 2 when her mother entered her in her first dance competition, and the toddler had a blast. "She loved it. That's when I knew this was going to be fun," Jessalynn said.

While Jessalynn fostered her daughter's natural skills for the performance arts, she noted that Jojo's love for dance was all her own. "When my husband would come pick her up at the [dance] studio, she would not want to leave at night," Jessalyn recounted to Rolling Stone. "She was 2 years old; couldn't even dance or do anything. She was like, 'I just want to stay with you.'"

JoJo was not even 1 when she developed her first original choreography. Jessalynn dubbed it the "hottie dance," as she would sprinkle glitter on JoJo as she showed off her moves to the song "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now" from "Hairspray," per Rolling Stone. JoJo often shares photos of herself as a baby and child on her social media, many of which show her in different dance costumes and, of course, bows.

She was homeschooled, which allowed her to practice and audition

Jessalynn Siwa saw the potential in her daughter. She opted to homeschool JoJo Siwa, who was dancing between five and six hours a day by the time she was 9. Jessalynn's encouragement and the proactive steps she took to let JoJo dance as much as she could allowed her to audition for, and eventually snag, a spot on "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" in 2013. "Being the youngest on the show is actually an advantage and so is being homeschooled, so I have time to dance every day," JoJo told the Telegraph Herald while on Season 2 of the show.

At that time, JoJo wanted to grow up to be a professional dancer and perform on Broadway. Jessalynn said she didn't care what her daughter did. "Her future? I just want both my children to be happy when they grow up and to keep their lives in perspective," Jessalynn explained to the Telegraph Herald. But she did think her daughter would be an all-out star. "To this day, [JoJo and I] joke about it, and I'm like, 'I really thought you were gonna be Hannah Montana when you were 5, and here we are,'" Jessalynn told Rolling Stone in 2019.

But Jessalynn's ambitious attitude on "Dance Moms" was often criticized. "I think you have some deeper issues ... I think you are doing detrimental harm to her," Abby Miller said on the Season 5 reunion

Siwa gained a massive following on YouTube

JoJo Siwa also displayed her mother's competitiveness on "Dance Moms," for which she became known. After her big break on the dance show, she began uploading videos to YouTube in 2015, mainly to answer questions from "Dance Moms" fans and give her side of the story. By that time, she had moved to Los Angeles, California with her mother, Jessalynn, while her father, Tom, and older brother, Jayden, stayed in Nebraska so he could finish school.

She let fans in on her life, touring the one-bedroom apartment she shared with Jessalynn in Glendale and participating in popular internet contests. YouTube proved to be the perfect platform for Siwa to build her brand. Soon, her channel was one of the most-followed on YouTube. "I never forget where I came from with YouTube. I wouldn't be where I am today without it," she explained to Rolling Stone.

In 2016, Siwa broke out into the music scene with her single, "Boomerang," in which she addressed the issue of bullying. Though she was mainly homeschooled, she returned to public school for a semester in third grade and witnessed peers bullying students constantly. She then began to experience virtual bullying on social media as she gained popularity. "[E]very day people comment, 'You're fat, you're ugly, you're rude, you're all this stuff ... I don't want anyone to have to go through that," she told Billboard.

She became a businesswoman at 13

In 2016, when JoJo Siwa was 13, her manager, Caryn Sterling, encouraged the rising star to develop her personal brand. She naturally had what it takes, which is a signature look and a solid social media following. Known for wearing giant bows on her side ponytail and vibrant colors all around, the dancer had, possibly unconsciously, been doing it already all her life. "[Sterling] wanted JoJo to be a brand. And I'm like, 'I'm in. Let's do it,'" Jessalynn Siwa told Rolling Stone.

Sterling had connections in the accessories industry because her own daughter had been creating jewelry. JoJo and her manager began to work on a line of bows for a business venture in partnership with the kids' accessory store, Claire's. It was a hit, as the line generated record-breaking profits for Claire's. "JoJo came at such a critical moment in time, knowing that kids were so influenced by their phones," senior global license buyer Julie Splendoria told the magazine.

The bows so were popular in the U.S. and beyond, that middle schools in the U.K. banned them for being deemed a distraction and breaching uniform policies, the BBC reported in 2013. Shortly after, JoJo signed a deal with Nickelodeon that led to a series of products, including a doll, beverage, clothing line, slime, and more. JoJo had indeed become a brand — and an easy one to sell!

Siwa came out as queer in January 2021

After dating fellow TikTok personality Mark Bontempo for a few months in late 2020, JoJo Siwa revealed that she belongs to the LGBTQ+ community in January 2021. Speculation about her sexuality arose after she posted a video to TikTok of herself dancing to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way," which has long been considered an LGBTQ+ anthem and was inspired by gay singer and preacher Carl Bean. A day later, she shared a photo on X, formerly known as Twitter, of herself in a shirt with the words "Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever," noting her cousin had given her the garment as a present.

Being 17 at the time, it's perfectly understandable that she didn't want to use a specific label. When a fan asked her to define her orientation, she said she "[doesn't] really know this answer," as People reported. She argued that what mattered was how happy she was to be in a relationship with girlfriend Kylie Prew. "I still don't know what I am. It's like, I want to figure it out. And I have this joke. Her name is Kylie. And so I say that I'm Ky-sexual," she said in an interview with People, adding that refers to herself as queer or pansexual.

Jessalynn Siwa and her family were nothing but supportive of Jojo. "My mom said she's known for the last two years ... she was like, 'I don't think you only like boys, that's totally okay,'" JoJo said (via People). "My family is awesome."

She ditched the bow

In mid-2021, JoJo Siwa got rid of her signature look: the bow. She waded into the transition by keeping the ponytail and accessorizing her hair with colorful bands. But by the end of the year, Siwa wore Barbie pigtails, sported a wavy hairdo, and even rocked an audacious purple wig. She pulled the ultimate surprise in 2022 when she got the big chop, which she documented in a series of TikTok videos. Siwa posted her new look — the faux hawk – on Instagram with the caption, "HAPPPPPY." In honor of Pride month that year, she stunned in a long purple mohawk for a shoot with Paper Magazine.

The faux hawk became Siwa's go-to look, which she styled in different ways, sometimes with tiny pigtails and other times with a touch of color. In a chat with Yahoo! Life, Siwa said of the sudden change, "I'm just now realizing that I don't need other people's approval to cut my hair."

During her time on the reality show, "Special Forces: World's Toughest Test," Siwa revealed that she previously had to deal with her hair falling out. "You know, people told me I have a receding hairline," she recalled of some mean comments online. "They don't know that I have a stress rash and that's why I'm balding right here. A 12-year-old shouldn't have a stress rash on their head that makes them bald, but I did."

She competed on Dancing with the Stars

JoJo Siwa was cast in the 30th Season of "Dancing with the Stars" in late 2021. She made history on the long-running dance competition, as her pairing with Jenna Johnson was the first same-gender duo to compete. When Johnson was asked about her thoughts on their groundbreaking collaboration, she said on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "I'm embarrassed to say that when I first found out I'd be dancing with a female, I was a little bit nervous ... and then meeting JoJo and just the courage that she has, gave me so much strength."

Although Siwa's appearance raised questions amongst "DWTS" fans because of her already extensive dancing background, she still brought her A-game to the table. She dazzled in a salsa performance with a touch of pop, tapped into the audience's emotional side with a contemporary dance to Lewis Capaldi's "Before You Go," and channeled her inner Lady Gaga in a freestyle "Born This Way" choreography. Ahead of the finale, Siwa penned an emotional note to Johnson thanking her for her unwavering support. The duo ultimately managed second place after former Brooklyn Nets guard Iman Shumpert and his partner Daniella Karagach emerged as the winners.

Speaking to The Buzz about their experience, Siwa said, "Nobody likes to lose. Nobody does. I would much rather get second than have gone home a week earlier. I am very grateful for the things that I've won throughout being here ... We got second. It's awesome!"

Siwa called out Nickelodeon

Jojo Siwa had a partnership agreement with Nickelodeon in 2017, which she explained on Celeb Secrets, saying, "They call it an overall talent deal, but in the kid world basically that means every single thing you could possibly think of: that means music, TV show, merchandise." Siwa consequently appeared in the made-for-Nickelodeon movie, "Blurt," in 2018 and went on a multi-continent "D.R.E.A.M" tour through the United States, Canada, Australia, and Europe.

Trouble began brewing between Siwa and Nickelodeon after the 2021 release of her flick, "The J Team." In a since-deleted September post on X (via Billboard), Siwa wrote, "I go out on tour in January. My movie musical was just released (with 6 new original songs) ... Nickelodeon told me today that I'm not allowed to perform/add any of the songs from the film into my show. These are MY songs, MY voice, MY writing. Does this seem fair???"

Despite Siwa's frustrations, her relationship with the network wasn't irreparable, as she voiced in a chat with "Today" the following year. "We're working. We're good. Nobody wants to be mad, continue to fight, to be sad," she explained. "Everyone wants to get along and that's kind of the policy that I live by and that I choose to live by," Siwa remarked, even though she was not invited to the 2022 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, which many fans speculated was due to her coming out the previous year.

She got into a feud with Candace Cameron Bure

Tension between JoJo Siwa and "Full House" star Candace Cameron Bure began when the former revealed that Bure as the rudest celeb she had ever crossed paths with in a July 2022 post on TikTok. In a red-carpet interview with Where is the Buzz, Siwa explained that resentment toward the actor arose because of a fan moment at the "Fuller House" premiere in 2016. "11-year-old me was really really sad when she didn't take a picture with me," she explained. "And then I went back to my mom and I turned around and she was taking pictures with other people."

Siwa recounted the story to Bure herself when the actor got in touch with her, as the latter shared in an Instagram post. According to the "Christmas Town" actor's narration, activities on the red carpet got intense with so much going on, and what she considered a fleeting moment ended up hurting a young Siwa. She has since issued an apology.

Just when fans thought things had toned down between the pair, Siwa revealed there was bad blood following Bure's declaration that the LGBTQ community would not be represented on the Great American Family network, of which she was the chief creative officer. In a since-deleted Instagram post (via E! News), Siwa wrote, "Honestly, I can't believe after everything that went down just a few months ago, that she would not only create a movie with intention of excluding LGBTQIA+, but then also talk about it in the press."

Siwa and Avery Cyrus dated for a short time

JoJo Siwa and Avery Cyrus first became TikTok-official in September 2022 when Siwa posted a clip of themselves in an affectionate photo booth session at Chuck E. Cheese. Siwa and Cyrus took things a notch higher and walked the red carpet together at the "Jagged Little Pill" premiere that same month. The duo appeared to be going steady, as Cyrus planned an unexpected intimate pre-Christmas treat with matching pajamas, holiday decorations, and a gingerbread house for the singer in November.

By December of that year, the couple had already called it quits. Siwa let the cat out of the bag in a recap video posted to Cyrus' TikTok channel, in which she presented her with a gift while saying, "This is my 'I'm sorry for breaking up with you' present." In the comments section, Cyrus told a concerned fan, "We decided that we are better off as friends! We are both so young and still just trying to figure our stuff out!"

That same month, the "High Top Shoes" singer hinted that Cyrus may have been in a deceitful relationship (no, she didn't mention any names), to which the TikToker responded in a statament to E! News, "From my perspective, me and JoJo left on great terms and are still friends."

Her friendship with Colleen Ballinger was criticized

Allegations of grooming against YouTuber Colleen Ballinger, popularly known as Miranda Sings, first surfaced in 2020 when YouTuber Adam McIntyre made claims that Ballinger (whom he eventually worked with) and fellow YouTuber Kory Desoto sent him lingerie when he was in his early teens. Those claims would get more heated in 2023 when Ballinger was accused of making predatory remarks in her videos and creating content that teetered the line between appropriate for children and inappropriate.

In response, Ballinger released a song whose infamous lyrics said, in part, "Toxic gossip train / Tie me to the tracks and harass me for my past / Those rumors look like facts if you don't mind the gaps." Just like Ballinger, who appeared to snub the accusations, JoJo Siwa, who had been friends with Ballinger since she was 12, defended the YouTuber when she appeared on the "Howie Mandel Does Stuff" podcast in September 2023. "She's always been nothing but kind to me," Siwa told Mandel. "The internet can take a lie and run so far with it ... to the point where you just can't do anything about it."

Siwa's sentiments were met with criticism from fellow YouTubers like Trisha Paytas, who felt that her friendship with Ballinger was inappropriate, given the large difference in age between them. As of this writing, the duo has continued being friends, as Ballinger attended Siwa's "Karma" release party and vlogged about it.

She has a sperm donor in the pipeline

Although she was only 20 years old, JoJo Siwa already solidified her plans to have her own family, as she shared on the "JoJo Siwa Now" podcast. "One of the biggest things for me right now that I'm looking for in a relationship is somebody who is ready for kids," Siwa relayed to her listeners in a February 2024 episode. "I am not ready, but I'm very near ready."

Siwa later told the "Call Her Daddy" podcast that she had the three names of her future children already mapped out: one girl called Freddie and twin boys named Eddie and Teddy. When Siwa spoke to Access in February 2024, she disclosed that she had gotten tattoos in honor of the trio and dropped some unexpected news: "I have my sperm donor lined up." Despite her optimism, she shared that her ink was temporary since she was cautious. "I'm just too scared to like fully go in," she said.

Financially, Siwa might be set to afford to have children because her net worth is in the millions. But when it comes to having a partner, she said in a past red carpet interview that she would proceed with her plans even if there wasn't a love interest in the picture.

She released the explosive single, Karma

In April 2024, JoJo Siwa released her song, "Karma," which she partly worked on with "All About That Bass" singer Meghan Trainor. The track's provocative lyrics tell the story of a love gone sour, which Siwa told Billboard came from a personal experience. "I had a very close person in my life ask me what song I sing and I think about them," Siwa recalled to the outlet. "Instantly, my answer which should not have been 'Karma,' my answer was 'Karma' ... That's when I knew that that person wasn't supposed to be in my life anymore."

The accompanying music video for "Karma," which accumulated over 32 million views in the month after its release, was just as striking. In the intriguing visual project, Siwa wears daring gothic face paint, dances suggestively, and gets cozy with some of her vixens. In a red-carpet interview with Billboard, Siwa said the all-new look, which she first teased at the iHeart Radio Music Awards, was all part of her rebrand. She added that she was looking to venture into rap in the future.