JoJo Siwa's Dancing With the Stars turn will mark the show's first same-sex pairing
Recent EW cover star JoJo Siwa is set to take the ballroom by storm. She's one of the first celebrity contestants to sign up for the 30th season (yes, 30th!) of ABC's Dancing With the Stars — and she'll be paired with a female dancer, a first for the U.S. version of the competition series.
"I'm excited that I get to do it," Siwa said on Thursday during a virtual panel for the show at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour. "I think it's cool. I think it breaks a wall that's never been broken down before. And it's normal for a girl to dance with a guy, and I think that that's really cool, but I think that it's really special that not only now, do I get to share with the world you get to love who you want to love, but also, you get to dance with who you want to dance with."
Siwa, an alum of Lifetime's Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition and Dance Moms, a hair-bow empire maven (she's sold more than 80 million of them!), YouTuber, actress, and pop star said there's still a lot to be decided as she enters the competition, which premieres Monday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
"I think it's really special and there's a lot of barriers that we're going to have to break through: Who leads? How do you dress? What shoes do you wear?" she continued. "But, I think it's all something that I'm looking forward to, and doing something that's never been done before. It's going to be tricky, but it's going to give so much to people out there — people of the LGBTQ community, everyone, people who feel just a little different. It's going to give them a sense of, 'Wait a second? A girl can dance with a girl? Obviously. Why not?' And I think it's really special that I get to do that on this show. Oh, I'm so excited."
The performer, who came out earlier this year, said she immediately agreed to do Dancing With the Stars — even before reading the email that offered her the opportunity to be paired with a female dance pro.
"For me, when I got the email that was in the subject [line] 'Dancing With the Stars,' I didn't even read the email, I just replied, 'Yes.' I didn't look at the dates, I didn't look at the times, I didn't look at anything. I just knew I wanted to do it," Siwa said. "Then finally, I gathered my thoughts… and I ended up going back and reading the email, and in the email it said, 'Would JoJo like to be partnered with a girl or with a boy?' And without hesitation, immediately, I was like, 'It would be so incredible and mean so much to me, and I think mean so much to a lot of people around the world, if I partnered with another female.' And so right away, it wasn't a question."
While JoJo's same-sex pairing is a first for the stateside version of DWTS, other international versions of the show have done it before. Nicola Adams, a British boxer, competed with a same-sex partner on Strictly Come Dancing, the U.K. version of DWTS, in 2020. Drag queen Courtney Act competed on the Australian version of the show with pro partner Joshua Keefe in 2019. And Jakob Fauerby, an actor, competed and won with his same-sex partner, Silas Holst, in 2019.
Additionally, ABC's DWTS has paired same-sex partners for one-off routines, including when pro Keo Motsepe danced with Nyle DiMarco, and pro Peta Murgatroyd danced with Jodie Sweetin, during a routine choreographed by judge Bruno Tonioli.
On Thursday, ABC also revealed another 18-year-old celebrity is joining Siwa in the race for that very shiny mirrorball trophy — Olympic gold medal gymnast Suni Lee.
Which pros are they paired with? That question will be answered when the show premieres, according to ABC.
There are 13 other celebs set to compete this season, but ABC is keeping that information under wraps until Wednesday, Sept. 8, when they reveal them on Good Morning America.
This article was updated with information revealed in the DWTS TCA panel.