JoJo Siwa to compete on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ as part of first same-sex pairing

Entertainment

FILE – JoJo Siwa arrives at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards on March 23, 2019, In Los Angeles. Siwa will compete as part of the first same-sex pairing on “Dancing With the Stars” for the show’s upcoming 30th season. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

(NewsNation Now) — Nickelodeon star JoJo Siwa will make history when she joins the new season of “Dancing with the Stars”.

The teen star, who came out as part of the LGBTQ community earlier this year, will be matched with a female dancing pro, ABC announced Thursday. This is the first time in the show’s 30 seasons that two women will be paired up.

Siwa, an 18-year-old who has said she identifies as gay and queer, said the same-sex pairing signals to viewers that it’s OK to be your true self. She named Lindsay Arnold, Jenna Johnson and Britt Stewart as among the show’s regular pros she’d like to be paired with.

“I think it breaks a wall that’s never been broken down before,” she told an online gathering of the Television Critics Association. “It’s normal for a girl to dance with a guy, and I think that’s really cool, but it’s really special that now not only do I get to share with the world that you get to love who you love, but also you get to dance with who you want to dance with.”

Siwa noted that among the things to be worked out with her partner are who leads, how do they dress and what shoes do they wear.

“It’s going to give so much to people out there, people of the LGBTQ community, everyone, people who feel just a little different,” she said. “I want to make it OK for the people who come after me.”

Siwa first gained fame on a dance competition show produced by Abby Lee Miller of “Dance Moms.”

“I just want to do really good,” she said, adding that she’s already been tanning daily.

Olympic gymnastics champion Suni Lee also is joining the cast, the rest of which will be announced on Sept. 8. ABC said Thursday the celebrities will find out which pro dancer they’ll partner with on the season premiere Sept. 20.

Lee won the all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympics, as well as a silver and a bronze medal. The 18-year-old from Minnesota will juggle online classes from Auburn University while participating on the Los Angeles-based show.

“I can express myself, which I’m excited for, because in gymnastics you can’t really do that, especially when you’re training for so much and it’s just a very intense kind of environment,” Lee said. “I’m excited to kind of let loose and just have fun.”

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Len Goodman returns to the judging panel after taking last season off, joining Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli and Derek Hough.

Tyra Banks is also back for her second season as host after replacing Tom Bergeron.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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