Appearing on the Howie Mandel Does Stuff podcast, JoJo discussed her ‘friendship’ with Colleen and her thoughts on the allegations against her.
To start their conversation, she initially recounted how she was introduced to Colleen and how they formed a close bond.
“We actually met [because] Todrick Hall had a party and invited the Dance Moms cast, and they discluded myself and Nia… Colleen, as Miranda [Sings] surprised the girls… [and] when the episode came out, Colleen saw how upset me and Nia were, and she reached out,” JoJo begins.
At the time, JoJo was 12 years old.
JoJo explains that she was a fan before becoming a friend of Colleen— something many internet users have criticised the influencer for this year.
Colleen has been accused of exploiting the fan-creator power dynamic, befriending underage fans and sending them inappropriate messages (including Trisha Paytas’ unsolicited nudes).
Since former fan Kodee Tyler reignited the discussion around Colleen’s behaviour in June 2023, the 36-year-old has addressed the allegations in her infamous “apology” video where she strummed the ukulele for 10 minutes, likening the claims against her to “toxic gossip.”
JoJo took a similar stance to Colleen in her conversation with Howie, claiming that the internet has run with a “lie” and “capitalised” off her cancellation.
“The internet can take a lie and run so far with it so far that it’s to the point where you just can’t do anything about it,” she says.
When Howie presses JoJo for details, asking her whether she thinks all the allegations are a “lie,” she gives a vague answer, noting that “There have been a lot of people on the internet who have gotten hit with this cancellation.”
Afterward, she goes on to clarify how her relationship with Colleen differs from other situations where adults talk to underage fans on the internet.
“The difference with Colleen and I…I became her friend,” she continues. “She became my friend, and she became somebody that I looked up to. She became somebody I idolised… She’s a very strong YouTuber and I idolise that. Throughout our friendship, we’ve probably filmed 100 videos together, and she’s cool. You know?”
Trisha Paytas and Adam McIntyre, one of the first fans to speak out against Colleen, have reacted to JoJo’s comments on their respective YouTube channels. Both creators have assured their followers that the allegations against Colleen are not based on “lies,” as JoJo suggests.
Trisha noted that Colleen provided confirmation when she apologised to her directly for sending around her nudes. Adam made a similar point, mentioning that fans like himself, Becky, and Oliver provided substantial screenshots and evidence to back up their accounts.
In Adam’s video, he chooses to speak directly to JoJo, pointing out that they share similar experiences. Both are now 20 years old and had formed a ‘friendship’ with Colleen at a similar age.
“Jojo, Colleen Ballinger befriended you because you were the one out of all of the Dance Moms [cast] that had the social media appeal that she needed,” he says. “You literally cater towards children…in the process of you trying to disprove anything Colleen Ballinger did, you are lying and being such a hazard to your audience.”
Trisha also drew from her own experiences dealing with the power dynamics in age-gap relationships— something she claims to be very familiar with, given many of her partners throughout her teens and early 20s were decades older than her.
“I think in this particular case she [JoJo] feels an attachment, she feels a loyalty to Colleen,” she reflects. “I don’t blame JoJo; I never blame the child… At 35, I am still realising I’m still discovering things that were wrong that happened to me. Things that I felt guilt about for so many years because I was groomed and I didn’t know it.”
She goes on to empathise with JoJo, admitting, “I defended my groomer in the same way… to see JoJo defending her, it makes sense because she’s still in the ‘I idolise her’ [mentality]…. but it’s so disheartening, and I feel very sad for JoJo.”
At the time of publication, JoJo has not addressed the backlash she has received for defending Colleen.