She talks loudly and tweets in all caps all of the time. She constantly has a smile on her face and she doesn’t leave home without her signature hair bow. And despite living in a world these days where teenagers are thrust into stressful and scary situations far too often, she lives the life of a bubbly teenager without a care in the world.
When: June 9-10
Where: Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, 1300 S. Linn White Dr.
And that’s why JoJo Siwa is so darn irresistible.
“My teacup Yorkie is currently attacking my hand,” she says. “I’ve had BowBow for two years now, and she kind of sleeps by my feet and bites my toes, but I love it.”
Of course, to call JoJo Siwa your average teenager would be a massive understatement, as the 15-year-old originally from Omaha, Nebraska is a mogul of sorts. Establishing her initial fan base while appearing on Lifetime’s reality show “Dance Moms,” Siwa’s days are currently filled with everything from working on her Nickelodeon show “Lip Sync Battle Shorties” during the day to filming her wildly popular YouTube vlogs at night.
“Technology is new to adults, so I don’t necessarily think they understand it,” said Siwa, who also just released her new single “High Top Shoes,” a song she says is about ‘how something so small can make you so happy.’ “I’ve always kind of just had a big personality and a voice that I wanted heard.”
And that voice shows no signs of getting quieter, as word is that Siwa will soon be heading to Australia for a yet-to-be-announced project later this summer. Siwa will also release a new book about the life of her beloved dog later this year.
Of course, just being a happy and carefree teenager doesn’t shelter Siwa from some harsh realities, including the recent health troubles of her former dance coach and “Dance Moms” star Abby Lee Miller, who was recently diagnosed with Burkitt Lymphoma according to various reports.
“She’s obviously not good,” said Siwa, who shared a recent hospital visit with Miller on her socials as she continues to fight cancer. “I mean, the cancer she has a 95% survival rate but it’s still hard. She is one of the toughest most powerful women I know. I think she is generally feeling better, but you just never know what you will get with Abby. She can either be nice or scary.”
Siwa lets out one of her big laughs again, but one might detect that even Siwa has trouble with the harsh realities that come with living as a teenager in 2018.
“I tell myself I can’t have off days,” she said, quieter than before. “I just want to make people happy and make a difference in people’s lives. It’s very hard to be a kid these days, with school and home work. It can be stressful. Anything can go wrong, but you can’t think about it al the time. You have to enjoy every moment.”
And that’s exactly what she plans to do at the upcoming Nickelodeon SlimeFest, which is making its U.S. debut right at Chicago’s Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island. Joining her at the multi-day music festival will include performances from superstars such as Zedd, Flo Rida and Liam Payne.
“Our rehearsals have been so amazing,” said Siwa of the event, which will include a slew of immersive experiences, performances and appearances. “We did my full set for the first time last night and it’s turning out exactly how I dreamed it. I can’t wait to get out there in front of my fans because that’s my favorite place to be. There is going to be a lot of fun, a lot of dancing and a lot of slime.”
So, has she been slimed yet?
“You never know when the slime is coming,” she answers quickly. “Everyone knows that!”
Tricia Despres is a local freelance writer.