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JoJo Siwa's only 18 years old, but as anyone on the internet or who watches TV knows, she's already done big things, such as becoming half of the first same-sex duo on Dancing with the Stars.
"I think something that I appreciate hearing the most is actually something that comes from adults when they say, 'I wish I had someone like you when I was little.' There is a lot of weight on my shoulders and there is a lot on my mind all the time, but it’s almost like the world just loves who I am," Siwa tells Yahoo Entertainment. "That gives me so much joy knowing that there are kids who are little who now have me, and it's just a constant reminder of be yourself."
The influencer, who came out as gay in January (and, later, pansexual), says she's been wowed by all of the support. It's helped her to look past the negative responses, which can be difficult.
"My phone blew up with love and support, and then I decide to take a journey into the section of the internet that we never go into called the comments, and that was a mistake," says Siwa, who confirmed last week that she had split with girlfriend Kylie Prew. "And people, you know, were not all supportive in the comments. And I think that's even something too with Dancing With the Stars that [pro partner Jenna Johnson] and I talk about almost every day is, like, people want us to fail just because we're two girls."
JoJo's mom, Jessalyn Siwa, is a cheerleader for her daughter, and she's had to learn how to cope with the sometimes cruel comments.
"I just want her to be happy. I just want people to be nice to her," she says. "And I told her a long time ago, 'I don't mind sharing you with the world, as long as the world loves you.' I'm like, 'You don't even know her, and you're saying all these things. How dare you?’ But then I'm like, 'You don't even know her. You don't get to know her.' You know, so, your loss at the end of the day."
JoJo explains that being a same-sex couple has some other drawbacks, like the fact that she's not as strong as some of the guys, but it has its advantages, too.
"I think it's really cool that we get to kind of go back and forth with who gets to lead, who gets to follow. I think that's something really special," she says. "I also think our connection with each other is — I would put money on — the strongest this season. She's just become my best friend. Like, we have a blast every single week."
The judges are also fans of the partnership, having consistently given them high scores. Siwa and Johnson are one of eight couples that remain standing in the competition.
And while she's spending a lot of time rehearsing — and loving every minute of it — the Dance Moms alum is also working on a new show with her mom, called Siwas Dance Pop Revolution, which premiered Nov. 4 on Peacock. It features young dancers competing to be part of a pop group who will open shows for JoJo.
—Video edited by Anne Lilburn and produced by Steve Michel