Should've Known Better

I Accidentally Went To A JoJo Siwa Superfan Event & Met Her

Me, my friend, and 20 of Siwa’s biggest supporters watching the “Karma” video.

Interview by Hannah Kerns
Ariela Basson/Elite Daily; Getty Images, Shutterstock

With 2.3 million views (and counting), Makayla Smith’s TikTok about attending an intimate gathering for JoJo Siwa fans in Los Angeles has gone certifiably viral. Smith, 27, has over 40,000 followers on the platform, but they mostly know her for her plus-size fashion content and dance videos — not her love for Siwa. That’s because Smith is not, in fact, a Siwanator.

In this as-told-to, the content creator explains how she ended up at a 20-person fan event (and meet-and-greet) for Siwa and why she stayed for the full hour-and-a-half experience.

I'd like to start this off by clarifying that I'm not a real JoJo superfan. I knew her back in the Dance Moms days, but ever since that ended, I haven’t been keeping tabs. I was aware of the meme that she's become on TikTok, but that’s pretty much it.

I had been at the Studio Siwa venue the week prior for something totally unrelated — I was invited by So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) on Fox to do a Dancers Against Cancer event there. Before attending, I followed a bunch of the event’s hosts, including JoJo and the choreographers at SYTYCD. A few days later, I saw on JoJo’s Instagram story that if you pre-saved her song, you could get invited to her pre-launch party. It was definitely not marketed as a superfan event.

Once I saved the song, I submitted my information on Sony's website. This is the part where I lose people — they're like, "If you're not a fan, why are you filling out a form?” But really, I just thought it would be so funny to go.

I’m thinking, ‘This is going to be so funny.’ ... We showed up, and there were only 20 people there.

I imagined it would be a really big party. The SYTYCD event was pretty sizable, so that’s what I was basing my expectations off of. I go to a lot of events as an influencer, so I anticipated the usual crowd of people being there. I even thought that maybe the other Dance Moms girls would go.

At 10:30 a.m. on the day of the event, I got confirmation that I was invited to the party, which started seven hours later (5:30 p.m. on a Tuesday). In the graphic they sent (below), it did not say “superfan” anywhere. It just said preview the unreleased “Karma” music video, learn choreo by JoJo Siwa and choreographer Richy Jackson, and get merch. I’m thinking, “This is going to be such a fun story.”

Studio Siwa

I brought my friend, the only other person who could go to an event at 5:30 p.m. on a weekday. We showed up, and there were only 20 people there. Where's the party? It was just JoJo, her team, and 20 other people. We were handed these shirts with her new KISS-inspired face on them. On the back, it says, “Karma’s A B*tch.” (Siwa’s selling this merch online for $50, BTW.)

Then, JoJo started individually asking us our names and giving us hugs. That's when my friend and I realized that it was about to be a very intimate event.

There was a real mix of people there: true fans and people going for the bit. The real fans came in bows. There was one woman who was very serious about JoJo's impact on her life, so that was very real for her. She showed up in a Studio Siwa T-shirt.

I turned to my friend to ask if we should leave. She was like, ‘Well, we're already here. Let's see where it goes.’

After introductions and merch handouts, they sat us down in a circle, and JoJo told us all, “I'm so glad you guys could come out. I wanted to have some of my biggest fans come out to be the first ones to see this music video." My friend and I were like, "Wait, what?"

I turned to my friend to ask if we should leave. She was like, “Well, we're already here. Let's see where it goes.”

Afterwards, JoJo brought out this bucket of bows. People started diving head-first into the bucket. I had never seen anything like it. They wanted to get first dibs, so we kind of stood back. It was a really overwhelming experience.

TikTok: @itsmakaylasmith

Then, JoJo suggested we all wear the bows with the T-shirts, “as a juxtaposition of the old brand with the new era." We ended up wearing them for the duration of the event. (When I came home later, my roommate saw me in the T-shirt and the bow and wondered what had happened to me.)

JoJo also leaked some of her other songs and kind of hinted that we could leak them, too. (I didn’t believe it until I saw that she played them again at her West Hollywood party the following night.) I hate to say it, but I actually liked the other songs, especially “Balance Baby.” My friend and I turned to each other, like, “Wait, do we like these new songs? Are they better than ‘Karma’?”

This is where I felt like I had to fight for my life ... to make it clear that I went for the bit.

JoJo then corralled us together to watch the “Karma” music video. As expected, there were some gasps when she humped the other dancer — it’s a big tone shift from the kind of content she used to put out — but most of us were just taking in the experience of the music video.

As we watched, she was crouched off to the side watching us watch it. She actually posted a TikTok about it. In it, she said that she gathered her 20 superfans to see the video first, and she was off squatting in the corner, crying as she watched us take it all in.

TikTok: @itsjojosiwa

This was where I felt like I had to fight for my life and clarify what happened on my TikTok account. I was like, “I have to defend myself.” I had to make a video to make it clear that I went for the bit. I did not go as a got-you to JoJo Siwa. I didn't go to make fun of her. I just thought it was a fun story: to say I went to Studio Siwa twice in two weeks, and I was one of the first people to see the music video.

Later, we learned the “Karma” choreography from JoJo for 20 minutes. She taught the dance at her full meme-level, intense volume, and I tried to match that in learning it. I am a dancer, so I picked it up pretty fast.

The scary thing is that people have actually started to recognize me in other fans’ videos from the event. My audience online knows that I’ve been taking dance, so when they spotted me in the crowd, they tagged me. I was like, “Please don't tag me. People are going to come after me.”

It'll be a funny party trick to bring up: ‘Hey, JoJo Siwa taught me the “Karma” dance.’

After choreography, we all took photos with her. I told her something like, “I was just here for the Dancers Against Cancer event, and it's nice to be back in the studio.” She was very nice, telling me, “You're always welcome. That's awesome. You were running the choreo today.”

Courtesy of Makayla Smith

She's someone that is truly kind to her fans. Meeting her in person in this intimate setting — that I didn't ask for, to be clear — helped humanize her. She is not just a meme on the internet, but a real person: a 20-year-old girl trying to make her way in an industry and in a social media platform that's trying to eat her alive.

At the end of the day, it was all about just letting the experience be what it was and going along with it. It’s all for the plot. I thought it would be hilarious to say JoJo was the one to teach me that choreography, and I stand by that. It'll be a funny party trick to bring up: “Hey, JoJo Siwa taught me the ‘Karma’ dance.”

This as-told-to has been condensed and edited for clarity.