JoJo Siwa has a message for little girls who are dreaming big in Iowa.
“Go for it,” she said. “I know sometimes it can feel like there are not as many opportunities for kids in the Midwest, but I hope I can show them that Midwest kids can do anything. You have to work really hard and never give up.”
The playful Siwa, 16, who has become a massive Nickelodeon and YouTube star, knows what it’s like growing up in the middle of America. Siwa dreamed big as a child in Omaha.
“I always wanted to be Hannah Montana,” she said by phone from her Los Angeles home.
Thanks to the internet, Siwa is a bigger worldwide sensation than Hannah Montana — Miley Cyrus’ ticket to superstardom — was when that Disney show was at its zenith a decade ago.
Siwa is the most popular star in Nickelodeon’s history, and has a staggering 9.7 million YouTube subscribers. The dynamic singer-dancer has partnerships with such retailers as Target and Michael’s. Siwa, who sports her trademark bow in her blonde hair, has become a cottage industry. She sold more than 40 million bows in 2018 to her fans, who are dubbed “Siwanatorz.”
“I have been wearing bows since day one,” Siwa said. “I have always loved bows, and now the JoJo bow has become a symbol — like if you’re at school and you don’t know where to sit, if you see someone wearing a JoJo bow, you know they are a Siwanator, and you can sit by them and they will be kind.”
Siwa is a benevolent superstar. She is taking on cyberbullies and calming fans who have had brushes with the mean girls of the internet.
“I just want to make people feel better about themselves,” she said. “Online bullies do the complete opposite, so it is important for me to let people know just to ignore the haters and focus on the people that are kind to you.”
She appears to be the complete package: talented, composed, charismatic, driven and full of empathy.
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It’s hard to believe that just six years ago Siwa was just another young dancer from the Heartland who dreamed of stardom. Now that she’s on her initial tour as a recording artist, she’s stressing the significance of paying your dues.
“Work hard every day, be confident,” she said. “It’s never going to be easy, but if you love it, it will always be fun.”
She’s bringing her tour to the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Sunday night (8/25). She obviously loves what she does, since her schedule is unrelenting. But it’s been that way since she was 10 and became a Top 5 finalist on the reality series “Abby’s Ultimate Dance Competition.
“After that, I knew I wanted to be a performer the rest of my life,” she said.
Don’t expect her to disappear any time soon. Her empire continues to burgeon. The entertainer, who is arguably the biggest teen influencer in the world, is riding the wave of such buoyant pop hits as “Boomerang” and the aptly titled “Kid in a Candy Store.”
Expect Siwa to deliver those songs at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“It’s so incredibly exciting,” she said of her initial tour. The Cedar Rapids show is extra special, since her cousin, Brandon Konrardy of Iowa City, will be there.
“It will be the most fun night ever,” Siwa exclaimed.
The glittery Siwa apparently intends to take over the pop world. The home-schooled mega star takes corporate sales meetings that are all about her brand, while teens her age are prepping for the SATs.
And she has become a teen icon without being sexualized. To some, she came out of nowhere, but she knows where her career began and blossomed.
“I love YouTube so so much,” she said. “I can’t even believe it. I remember when I got 1 million (subscribers) and 10 million seemed so far away. But like I always say, dream big.”
If You Go
WHAT: JoJo Siwa “D.R.E.A.M. The Tour,” with The Belles opening
WHERE: U.S. Cellular Center, 370 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday (8/25)
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TICKETS: $39.50 to $69.50, and $152 to $278 VIP; venue box office, 1-(800) 745-3000 or Uscellularcenter.com/event/jojo-siwa/
ARTIST’S WEBSITE: Itsjojosiwa.com