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JoJo Siwa will replace Nigel Lythgoe as a judge on 'So You Think You Can Dance'

JoJo Siwa will replace Nigel Lythgoe as a judge on the hit reality TV dance series So You Think You Can Dance.

Fox announced the 20-year-old TV and social media personality will join co-hosts Allison Holker and Maksim Chmerkovskiy with the launch of season 18 on Mar. 4, following Lythgoe's decision to step down as he faces two sexual assault lawsuits.

The 74-year-old producer and choreographer is accused of assaulting his high-profile co-host, TV personality, actor and singer Paula Abdul, who filed a sexual assault lawsuit againstLythgoe at the end of last year. Two other women, former contestants on the reality TV show All American Girl, launched a separate sexual assault lawsuit against Lythgoe soon after.

Lythgoe has denied the allegations.

"I have informed the producers of So You Think You Can Dance of my decision to step back from participating in this year's series," Lythgoe said in a statement shared with NPR on Jan. 6. "I did so with a heavy heart but entirely voluntarily because this great program has always been about dance and dancers, and that's where its focus needs to remain. In the meantime, I am dedicating myself to clearing my name and restoring my reputation."

The show's producers — Fox, 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions — also shared a statement at that time about its decision to move forward without Lythgoe, "to ensure the show remains committed to the contestants, who have worked incredibly hard for the opportunity to compete on our stage."

Born in Omaha, Neb., Siwa launched her career on the Lifetime series Dance Moms in 2015. She went on to work with Nickelodeon and developed a following on YouTube for videos about her daily life. Siwa appeared on the 30th season of Dancing with the Stars in 2021, making news headlines as the first person to dance with a same-sex partner.

Siwa's previous appearance as a judge on the last season of So You Think You Can Dance has divided fans of the show about the news of her appointment for the upcoming season.

"This ruins the show for me. I tried to watch when she was on last season. So annoying and loud. Not going to watch now," wrote one person on the Fox Instagram channels announcing Siwa's new job. "I was surprised at how good she was at judging. Jojo is loud, but she really knows her stuff. And her technique comments, for the most part, are spot on. Give her a break," wrote another.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Chloe Veltman
Chloe Veltman is a correspondent on NPR's Culture Desk.

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