JoJo Siwa slams an employer's response to her coming out: 'I'm not gonna hide who I am'

·4 min read

JoJo Siwa is opening up about a negative experience with a former employer after she came out as a member of the LGBTQ community in January 2021.

In a video posted to TikTok this week, the 19-year-old dancer and internet star shared her story about working with the company, which she did not name, with text layered on clip of herself singing to Meghan Trainor's "Mother."

"The company I work for told me they needed to have a meeting w/ me ASAP," Siwa wrote, referring to the time after she came out. "During this meeting, the PRESIDENT of the company negatively asked me 'what are you gonna tell your young demographic.'"

After taking a second to process, she responded: "THE TRUTH."

Siwa wrote in the video that she's "never seen a man roll his eyes so far in the back of his head."

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@itsjojosiwa

Inspired by a true story.😨 (side note if that meeting was today I would literally just press play on this song….)

♬ Mother - Meghan Trainor

After a pause, she started talking again. "I'm not gonna hide who I am and who I love to anyone, ESPECIALLY to the next generation," she said she told her employer, who apparently didn't like that response.

"However...  since I came out SO many adults say to me 'I wish I had someone like you when I was younger,' " she wrote, noting that reminds her she did the right thing and that you should never let anyone change who you are.

Siwa captioned the video: "Inspired by a true story" and added that if the meeting she references in the video took place today, her response would simply be to hit play on Trainor's hit track.

USA TODAY has reached out to Siwa's representatives for comment.

What to know about JoJo Siwa: The 'Dance Moms' alum turned teen Internet star

JoJo Siwa attends an "America's Got Talent" event in August, 2022.
JoJo Siwa attends an "America's Got Talent" event in August, 2022.

JoJo Siwa started on 'Dance Moms,' worked with Nickolodeon

The entertainment world first met Siwa in 2013, when she appeared as a contestant on "Dance Moms" spinoff "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition" before landing a role as a "Dance Moms" series regular in 2015.

In 2017, Nickelodeon signed Siwa to a talent deal, which led to 2018's animated series about her and her dog, "The JoJo and BowBow Show Show."

Nickelodeon denies that the interaction Siwa refers to in her video happened at the television network.

"We are unaware of what incident or meeting JoJo is referencing, but it certainly did not happen at Nickelodeon," David Bittler, executive vice president of Nickelodeon Communications, Paramount Global said in an emailed statement to USA TODAY. "We have valued and supported JoJo since day one of our relationship together and we still do today."

Siwa has also worked with Nick Cannon on "Lip Sync Battle Shorties" and leant her voice to last year's "Angry Birds" movie sequel.

She was unmasked on Season 3 of "The Masked Singer" in 2020, where she appeared as the T-Rex. She was also a contestant on "Dancing With The Stars" in 2021, where she made history by being the first to compete with a same-sex partner. She has also served as a judge on "So You Think You Can Dance."

How JoJo Siwa's actions are teaching inclusivity

Siwa is part of a generation of young stars including Zaya Wade and Lil Nas X who are teaching the next generation about diversity and inclusion by being their out and proud selves. And experts say their example can help children and teenagers embrace who they are, as well as encourage adults to foster an environment that promotes acceptance.

"We can have panel discussions and articles and books, but to have young people who are taking center stage in the realms that other young people are really sort of using to explore their identity is crucial," Ed Brockenbrough, an associate professor at University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, told USA TODAY in 2021.

Read this next: How Lil Nas X, JoJo Siwa and Zaya Wade are teaching kids to be more inclusive

Contributing: David Oliver, Hannah Yasharoff

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: JoJo Siwa recalls employer's negative response to her coming out