JoJo Siwa Wasn't Invited to the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards—Here's Why That Matters for Kids and Parents

For her fans, JoJo Siwa getting snubbed by the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards is a big deal. Here's a crash course on why she's the role model our kids need.

JoJo Siwa at the GLAAD Awards
Photo: Getty Images | Stefanie Keenan

I don't know JoJo Siwa personally, but I'm almost positive that if she had received an invitation to the 2022 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, she would've been there. I know this because just a few months ago, I made sure my 7-year-old daughter Mila's ultimate rite of passage—her first concert—was at none other than JoJo Siwa's D.R.E.A.M. tour.

For me, taking Mila to her first concert ranks up there with her future bat mitzvah, learner's permit, and college acceptance. But while I couldn't wait for that first concert experience—I was dubious about the actual show. I assumed we were in for forced, phoned-in, bubble gum fluff.

I know, I know—how dare I? After all, when I was a tween, I was Teen Beat magazine personified. First concert? Tiffany. First limo ride? En route to a New Kids on the Block show. First time I REALLY got grounded? Sneaking out to a Brian Austin Green meet and greet to see West Beverly High's resident DJ David Silver.

Let me go on the record to say that JoJo Siwa put on one of the very best shows I've ever seen (and I've seen everyone from Britney Spears to Paul McCartney). From the second JoJo stepped out onto her rainbow, candy-coated stage, she was so real, so authentic, and so talented. But the defining moment—one I still cry tears of immense pride over—was JoJo's intimate conversation with her young audience (and their moms) about coming out in 2021.

She revealed many people discouraged her from doing so because of her young fans. But JoJo said that's why it was so important . . . she never wanted any of her young fans to ever feel like they couldn't be their true selves. As the arena exploded with love and support, I hugged Mila, grateful that she had JoJo to look up to as the world continues to implode with a pandemic, war, and laws that aim to ban queer kids' very existence.

Mila's first JoJo Siwa concert
Kids like Mila need role models like JoJo Siwa to look up to. Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal

Which brings me back to the 2022 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards. As JoJo's voice and confidence grow, no one's disputing that she's come a long way from oversize bows and high-top sneakers. She's evolving—we know she's not a "kid" anymore. In September of 2021, JoJo made that clear to Nickelodeon when she publicly called them out for not allowing her to perform songs from The J Team, her Paramount+ movie (part of the Viacom family, like Nickelodeon), on her D.R.E.A.M. tour. So I hope JoJo's invite was simply "lost in the mail" due to executives with bruised egos. Nickelodeon, however, has not yet responded.

But here's the thing—in the wake of Florida's terrifying "Don't Say Gay" bill (with the possibility of Alabama, Ohio, Louisiana, and many more states following suit), the snub doesn't sit well with me. There's a bigger void without JoJo's signature smile in the audience and on that stage. There's a chilliness without her electrifying energy and an eerie silence without her laughter. Now, more than ever, kids need to see JoJo living her best and most authentic life. They need the reassurance that it does get better and that they will be okay. Even if they get that by catching a glimpse of JoJo living her best life as part of a kid-centric awards show.

Like so many other little girls, my daughter was first drawn to JoJo's big, bold and bright world on YouTube. And then JoJo inadvertently expanded Mila's world. When I told Mila that JoJo had a girlfriend, it was like telling her JoJo has a convertible with her face on it—basically one more reason my 7-year-old thought her 18-year-old "idol" was the "coolest." When JoJo competed in Dancing with the Stars with Jenna Johnson Chmerkovskiy, Mila was in awe that her partner was a girl.

Every week, Mila made me vote for them over and over—needless to say, she was inconsolable when they took second place. Soon after that heartbreak, Mila experienced yet another rite of passage—her first crush. Unprompted, Mila broke the news by explaining to me that, "JoJo has crushes on girls and I have a crush on a boy—but that's okay—you can like whoever you want."

Maybe the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards didn't choose to honor JoJo Siwa with an invite this year, but I hope more parents embrace the star as a role model for their kids. JoJo's growing up and growing into herself, clearly comfortable being in her own skin. JoJo's fans took charge and made her oversized bows a big trend. Let's help them do the same by encouraging them to wear their big, loving, oversized hearts on their sleeves—just like JoJo does.

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