Dance Moms star JoJo Siwa is launching a rebrand, but one interview has jeopardised it all.

What springs to mind when you hear the name JoJo Siwa?

Glitter. Sickly sweet tutus paired with high-top sneakers. Rainbow hair extensions. Bows bigger than your head. Megawatt smile. Eternally euphoric.

But Siwa wants you to forget all of that. Erase what you knew about her and replace those images with a grown-up, edgy and prideful identity. 

As far as rebrands go, when it comes to former child stars with squeaky clean tween marketing appeal looking to launch their new adult public persona, they've been a dime a dozen throughout showbiz history.

But Siwa seems to think she's a trailblazer on this front and that kind of thinking may just have derailed her entire rebrand campaign.

The making of JoJo Siwa.

We first met a young Joelle Joanie "JoJo" Siwa when she appeared on the Dance Moms spinoff series Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition in 2013. During the show's second season we were introduced to a plucky young JoJo from Nebraska and her equally talkative mother Jessalyn.

"I would say it’s my mission in life to make JoJo a star," said Jessalyn at the beginning of their two-season tenure on the show.

And you believed every word of it.

JoJo Siwa. Image: Getty.


The Dance Moms ecosystem was merely a jumping-off point for JoJo and her mother's big plans for the future. Soon a YouTube channel was launched (which now has 12 million subscribers), multiple merch revenue streams were secured (as of 2020 she had sold 80 million JoJo Bows), a deal with Nickelodeon was signed and by 2017 she was heading on world tours to perform her songs to adoring young fans.

Siwa's team had built an empire and they were rolling it all the way to the bank.

Levelling to icon status in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Siwa's rebrand into adulthood isn't just a clever spin on a PR marketing campaign to get us to listen to her new song 'Karma'. While, yes, it very much is that. But she's been slowly letting us in on parts of her life that are a departure from her saccharine-sweet Nickelodeon persona.


In January 2021, the then 17-year-old came out publicly as being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community during an Instagram Live. While she was reluctant to put an exact label on her sexual orientation she did respond to a fan's question by telling everyone she falls in love with "people" rather than a specific gender.

"I always believed that my person was just going to be my person. If that person happened to be a boy, great! And if that person happened to be a girl, great," she said.

Then in April 2021, during an interview with Vanity Fair, Siwa went a bit further in defining her place in the LGBTQIA+ community with the announcement she had been dating a woman named Kylie Prew.

"I still don't know what I am. It's like, I want to figure it out," she said.

JoJo Siwa and then girlfriend, Kylie Prew. Image: Instagram/@itsjojosiwa.

"I don't know — bisexual, pansexual, queer, lesbian, gay, straight. I always just say 'gay' because it just kind of covers it, or 'queer' because I think the keyword is cool. I like queer. Technically, I would say that I am pansexual because that's how I have always been my whole life is just like, my human is my human."


Given her particular fan base, Siwa knew that coming out may jeopardise her career but the opportunity to speak out and live authentically to act as a role model to others became her priority. In response to her announcement, Siwa had to weather some negative comments, but she had no regrets.

"I was thinking that all the comments were going to be nice and supportive, and they weren’t," she told PEOPLE. “A lot of them were, ‘I’m never buying your merch again. My daughter’s never watching you again.’ I couldn’t sleep for three days. My thing is, I don’t want people to watch my videos or buy my merchandise if they aren’t going to support not only me, but the LGBTQ community."

Then in 2022, Siwa became the first contestant in Dancing With The Stars history to partner with a same-sex dancer, a step that seemed to push her over into LGBTQIA+ icon status.

"My journey of coming out and having a girlfriend has inspired so many people around the world," she told USA Today at the time. "I thought that if I chose to dance with a girl on this show, it would break the stereotypical thing. It would be new, different and change for the better."


All of a sudden the young girl who we saw grow up before our eyes on Dance Moms was becoming a very important role model and the face of inclusivity and acceptance all around the world. 

Listen to The Spill hosts discuss the rebrands of JoJo Siwa and Jennifer Lopez. 

Rebrand campaign.

ICYMI over the past month, the celebrity media cycle has been decidedly JoJo Siwa-centric. She has been all over our feeds in a PR splash promoting her new single 'Karma' as well as a pretty overt rebrand move.

It has been a heavy-handed salute to transitioning from child star to adult. There's not a lot of nuance to it but subtlety has never been Siwa's schtick. 


If flipping the bird or telling a room, "a new era of life, we’re becoming an adult" didn't paint the picture clear enough for you then perhaps her Gene Simmons-inspired getup at the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards will solidify the message.

At 20 years old Siwa wants us all to know she's crossed over the bridge from teenager to bona fide prime time grown up.

JoJo Siwa at the 2024 iHeartRadio Music Awards. Image: Getty.

The rebrand has certainly attracted a fair amount of commentary accompanied by proverbial eye rolls. But JoJo's eagerness to be accepted as an adult perhaps stems from a child star who was pigeonholed into a very particular identity for so many of her formative years.


Dressing JoJo in big bows, pastel clothing and taking her on tour to perform for young children was all part of a meticulously planned marketing package that she was expected to comply with well into her late teens. 

While you may be cringing at some things she has been saying throughout her 'adulthood rebrand', it wreaks of someone trying to take back — or at the very least discover — their identity after being treated as a commodity for so many years. She's treading his journey all while in the public eye so at the very least she should be afforded a pass or two for saying things that may sound a little on the nose. Look, we've all said some cringy things when we were 20, it's just ours weren't turned into soundbites for the whole world to mock.

One interview that may have derailed it all.

So, the scene is set for a full assault PR rebrand. It is going as planned. Media coverage is coming through. Red carpet appearances are making a splash. JoJo's new single 'Karma' is getting great streaming numbers.

And then, one interview threatened to derail it all.

On March 16 at the GLAAD Media Awards Siwa spoke to Billboard about her rebrand when she made some comments that have rubbed people the wrong way.


"No one has made this dramatic of a change yet," she said. "No one has made, in my generation, this extreme of a switch. I am the first in the generation, it is very scary, but someone’s gotta do it."

It didn't take long for the internet to call her delulu before pointing to the likes of Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears, two artists who made similar transitions from innocent child stars to adult musicians with their respective rebrands.

To say that she was a trailblazer in this department or the only person in her generation to make such a dramatic switch is semantics but it certainly has made the online world question Siwa's obtuse observation. The internet's biggest gripe? It's one thing to be confident, but it's an entirely different ballgame when you start erasing or overlooking peers that have come before you.

A new interview with Billboard now threatens to completely scupper Siwa's best-laid plans to evolve into an artist taken seriously by the public and her contemporaries.

@billboard “I am so excited to bring this version of pop music back.” 💥 To celebrate the release of “Karma,” @JoJo Siwa joins #BillboardNews to discuss her new era and drastic rebrand, creating the new “gay pop” genre, her love of #MileyCyrus & #BillieEilish and more. Watch the full sit-down interview at Billboard.com. #karma #jojosiwa #interview #popmusic ♬ original sound - billboard

"When I first signed with Columbia, I said I wanted to start a new genre of music. They said, ‘What do you mean?’, and I said, ‘well, it’s called ‘gay pop’ … It’s like K-pop, right, but it’s gay pop," she said in the interview.

@teganandsara #stitch with @billboard ♬ original sound - Tegan and Sara

Again, in chorus, the online community responded by asking if she had considered that gay pop already had an established place in the music world thanks to Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Kim Petras, Hayley Kiyoko and Tegan and Sara.


Is it delusions of grandeur or is it not doing your research or is it plain disrespectful? Siwa's rebrand now sits on rocky ground.

The future of JoJo.

We have no doubt, that the past week has been a humbling experience for Siwa. While she's no stranger to commentary from the public, the backlash to what feels like a very personal debut into adulthood and new music will most likely sting.

But there's no better entry into becoming an adult than going through the trials and tribulations of having figure out your place in this world. While this sharp turn into public conjecture was most likely not on the whiteboard when designing Siwa's rebrand campaign, it will definitely be a moment of learning.

She may have fumbled her wording in her quest to boldly make her mark as a mature artist, it's important to understand that we all make mistakes. Celebrity rebrand's are rarely without hiccups and Siwa's story is no different.

Siwa's legitimacy might have been called into question but with this new identity under her belt, she has the opportunity to turn this slip-up around and forge ahead with a successful career.

Feature Image: Getty.

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