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‘Dancing With the Stars’ fans are here for JoJo Siwa. Olivia Jade? Not so much

A blond woman in vibrant outfit poses behind a brunet woman in a matching outfit, surrounded by confetti
Professional dancer Jenna Johnson, left, and YouTube star JoJo Siwa perform the quickstep on “Dancing With the Stars.”
(Eric McCandless / ABC)

Internet sensation JoJo Siwa made history during Monday’s season premiere of “Dancing With the Stars” as half of the competition program’s first same-sex pairing.

The mega-famous, perpetually peppy 18-year-old — who came forward as a member of the LGBTQ+ community earlier this year — and professional dancer Jenna Johnson closed out the historic show with a lively quickstep routine that landed the highest score of the evening.

Other celebrities who made their “Dancing With the Stars” debuts this week include “Bachelor” breakout Matt James, Olympic gymnast Suni Lee, “The Talk” co-host Amanda Kloots and college-admissions scandal poster child Olivia Jade.

“The world first found out about me when I was on ‘Dance Moms,’” Siwa said in her intro video before taking the stage. “Since then, my career just started to take off, and now I am a TV personality, a pop star. Dreams do come true.”

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Jojo Siwa, the bubbly, dancing, 18-year-old mini-conglomerate who came out as LGBTQ+ this year, breaks a barrier on the long-running dance contest.

As for her and Johnson’s partnership, the YouTube superstar hopes to continue inspiring hordes of young fans to embrace their full selves.

“I’m really, really proud,” she said. “What I love to do is make truly being who you are easier for kids.”

Cut to the women’s energetic quickstep number — which saw Siwa trade her signature hair bow and skinny jeans for an equally vibrant costume while trotting to the tune of Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl.” The crowd-pleasing performance drew rave reviews from the judges, who awarded the duo 29 points out of 40.

“Finally, the groundbreaking moment we’ve all been waiting for,” said Italian choreographer Bruno Tonioli. “I love to see this freedom of expression, this liveliness. ... I’m so high, I could hit the rafter. Well done.”

“JoJo, you’re changing the world,” added host Tyra Banks. “You are a leader. There are little kids looking up to you like, ‘Oh my gosh. If she can be herself, I can.’ I love you. I’m so proud of you.”

YouTube star JoJo Siwa fielded fan questions about her recent coming out, explaining why she isn’t into labels and that coming out shouldn’t have a stigma.

Another competitor who generated quite a bit of buzz was Jade, the 21-year-old daughter of actor Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli — both of whom served jail time for bribing Operation Varsity Blues mastermind William “Rick” Singer to get their children into the University of Southern California.

Though, if you ask Jade, she’s “probably best known for being an influencer.”

“After [the admissions scandal] happened, I did step back from social media and just soak in what everybody was saying,” she said during her intro video Monday. “I’m not trying to pull a pity card, but I just need to move forward and do better.”

A woman and a man dancing on a stage
Professional dancer Val Chmerkovskiy, left, and influencer Olivia Jade on “Dancing With the Stars.”
(Eric McCandless / ABC)

Naturally, Jade’s appearance on the show ignited plenty of discussion on Twitter and prompted several to question ABC’s casting decision. Jade and her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, earned 25 points for an upbeat salsa routine to Lizzo’s “Juice.”

“OLIVIA JADE CALLED HERSELF AN INFLUENCER ON #DWTS BUT LIKE IS THAT REALLY WHY YOUR DANCING?” one person tweeted.

“Lots of current or former D1 athletes on Dancing with the Stars,” another person wrote. “Iman Shumpert (Georgia Tech hoops), Suni Lee (Auburn gymnastics), Matt James (Wake Forest football) and Olivia Jade (USC rowing).”

The next installment and first elimination episode of the 30th season of “Dancing With the Stars” premieres Sept. 27 on ABC.


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