There’s no dancing around the fact that a particular character in JoJo Siwa‘s upcoming TV musical film may bring to mind a notable figure from the pop star’s past.
In The J Team, set to premiere on Paramount+ on Sept. 3, the 18-year-old Nickelodeon star plays a teenage dancer who has to deal with a strict—and sparkles-hating—new coach, Miss Poppy, played by Tisha Campbell. JoJo, who also serves as an executive producer of the movie, rose to fame as a child star on the Lifetime reality show Dance Moms, which saw her being taught by real-life dance instructor Abby Lee Miller, who is known for her tough tactics. JoJo told E! News exclusively that there was a conscious decision to separate Miss Poppy from Abby.
“There actually was a lot more, I guess I should say, Abby references,” she revealed. “Like there’s a moment in the movie where Miss Poppy’s coach, when she was little, Mr. Melody, he said something like, ‘I want no, no, no, no, no crying kids in Mr. Melody’s class.’ And once I got the script, I was like no, because this is not a dig at Abby at all, and I said, I get it, it’s funny and it’s a funny reference and everybody knows it. But there [were] a few references that were just a little too close to home.”