Photo: Wes and Alex Photography. Treatment: Bea Oyster
JoJo Siwa knows all eyes have been on her for over a decade. But now, as she launches her first podcast, the 20-year-old is hoping you’ll relinquish any previous ideas you might have had about who she was as she welcomes you to who she is now — a culmination of her “past, present and future.”
If you existed in the dance world then you probably knew about Siwa through Abby Lee’s Ultimate Dance Competition and subsequently, Lifetime’s Dance Moms. Siwa joined the popular series in season five after placing fifth in the namesake competition spinoff. She went on to become a Nickelodeon staple, selling out concerts and trademarking her large bows placed perfectly atop her side ponytails; “Jojo with the bow-bow” became a running sentiment that still follows Siwa to this day. As she navigates adulthood, her podcast JoJo Siwa Now will explore her life and the ways her unique childhood shaped her identity. Siwa partnered with iHeartMedia’s Outspoken Network to produce the show, and she’s ready to bring the world back into the JoJo Siwa fold solely through her eyes.
Below, Teen Vogue caught up with Siwa to talk about life in the public eye, dream podcast guests, and everything she’s learned over the years.
Teen Vogue: So can you talk me through maybe the first time you ever thought about wanting to have your own podcast?
JoJo Siwa: I think the first time that I truly wanted to do a podcast was the first time that I ever did somebody else's podcast. The thing about a podcast is all it is is talking and if you notice that's been my whole career, just chatting up a storm.
TV: How do you think having this podcast will differentiate you from your work in reality TV, Nickelodeon, and your other franchises?
JS: I've always shared authentically who I am, but there of course has been stuff that people haven't seen. I always sheltered the bad days from the internet because it wasn't necessary, but now that I'm older, I think people will appreciate hearing the experiences that I had. And, you know, a lot of times everyone assumes it’ll be a negative thing. I think a lot of people think, “Oh she is going to expose stuff” and it's gonna be a negative thing. Don't get me wrong, some stuff might be, but I think at the same time most is just going to be more fascinating. Like, “Whoa, I didn't know that happened. I didn’t know that's how it went.” A lot of people have seen my YouTube videos from the time I was 14 to 16 years old and they don't know that after I filmed them and the camera went off, I’d go upstairs and edit it myself. I don't think people realize any of that, and so I think it's gonna be really fun to talk about. I’m excited to talk to my friends and ask about their journey in the industry. Talk to celebrities that I'm a big fan of and talk about their journey. It's going to be all about how your past can reflect your future.
TV: What has it been like navigating this tight space between childhood and adulthood so quickly, especially since it's all been so blurred?
JS: It definitely has been blurred. Even just yesterday, I was like, wait, “I'm not a teen anymore.” I realized my teen years flew by. But there's this quote that I really have decided to start living by and it was like instead of wishing you could go back in time 10 years, think how would you want 30-year-old you to live now, and that's really helped me stay present and stay excited. Because every day is the good old days, we just don't know it and time flies no matter what. My friend is currently somewhere else for another 60 days. I told her, no matter what, 60 days is only 60 days. It's not 61 or 59, it's only going to be 60. It really can put a lot into perspective because life is so short. We never know when our time is coming. You have to live.
TV: When I think of my younger self as I get older and am navigating life, I feel like there are bits and pieces of her that were gone for a few years but have come back. For you, in connection to your "past, present and future" mindset, what overlap do you see at 20 years old that didn't exist the past few years, but is now back?
JS: Something for me that I used to love that I lost touch with that is now back was indoor skydiving. My love for dance as well. There was a phase from the time I was 14 to 17 that I didn’t like to dance anymore. I feel like friendships of course have come and gone and come again. My passion and work ethic have really stayed true. But it's fun to see the life journey. It's fun for me to see what I'm into one week and not into the next. It's fun to look back at a month ago and be like, “oh my god I'm surfing everyday.” Now I can't even think to add that into my schedule for a second.
TV: I'd love to know a little bit about your friendship with Tyler Cameron and how you guys first met. What was it like getting to have him on the pod?
JS: Tyler's the best. We met on Special Forces. And he became an instant big brother and I didn't really realize it at the time. He was my number one cheerleader. When we left the show, I realized I was sad to leave because I mean, we became family. Tyler has become such a good, fun human in my life. He'll be the best man at my wedding. He came over to do the podcast and it's cute because it's like these tiny little JoJo chairs for the podcast set up and he is a big boy, but he embraces that, he loves it so much. There's no pressure, there's nothing — it's interesting because I mess with him all the time. And I'm like, “I'm the one girl in America who is friends with you because I don't like you.” Our dynamic is so fun and so funny and he's such a good soul.
TV: What do you hope listeners will get out of the podcast and what do you hope they'll maybe learn or receive by listening in?
JS: I hope people really do find a good perspective on life. Life is so short and I think people watched me grow up, and maybe they saw some of the best days of my life but not the worst. And they might think that those weren't there but they were, and I'm gonna be an open book about them. Same with my guests, I want to know something they regret, something that they would do differently, something that they would change, something that they learned that they would go back in time and fix. I think at the end of the day, though, we realized like, everything you do is for a reason whether that's a mess up or something great that you do for a reason. Everything is for a reason.
TV: Without saying a name, or giving too much away, can you describe in a sentence or to one of the guests that you have coming up after Tyler?
JS: I got to have a one to one chat with somebody who I think we needed to have a rematch.
TV: Do you have any? sky's the limit dream guests you'd love to have on the pod one day?
JS: Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish. I just performed with G Flip so I really want to have them on the pod. So many dream guests.
TV: Just thinking about everything that you've learned thus far, what would be your advice to not only your younger self, but other young people that maybe are looking to you as someone they admire or aspire to be?
JS: I would say life is gonna go up and it’s going to go down and it's gonna go up again and it's gonna go down again. So enjoy the ride, enjoy the ups, enjoy the celebration, celebrate everything and be okay with the downs because you gotta go down to learn. You have to go down to be able to go up again. And that's okay. Celebrate those ups. Give yourself those days where you're proud of yourself and then give yourself those days where you need to work a little bit harder.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue
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