From one icon to another! JoJo Siwa and Jenna Johnson may have landed in the bottom two during the Monday, November 1, episode of Dancing With the Stars, but the pair are still proud of the work they put in — and of one judge’s response to their performance.
Carrie Ann Inaba said that the Dance Moms alum, 18, reminded her of Zendaya, who previously competed on season 16 of the ABC series. After being saved from elimination, the twosome opened up about the unexpected comparison.
“That was amazing,” Johnson, 27, told Us Weekly and other reporters following the duo’s nearly perfect tango. “That was, I think, such a big compliment [because] Zendaya, I think, flourished on the show and then became who she is now, [which is] a freaking icon.”
The former Nickelodeon star said the comment was “interesting” because she and the Dune actress, 25, have similar backgrounds as child performers.
“People my whole life [have] been waiting for me to have my, like, ‘child star breakout go-crazy moment.’ … A lot of times, they go crazy to phase out of that time [and] that phase of life,” Siwa said on Monday. “But for me, I feel like this is my transition. And I feel like it’s such a good, wholesome, right way of transitioning out of being a child star. And it feels so good to grow every single day and learn new things about myself every single day.”
Both Siwa and the former Disney Channel star grew up in the spotlight and found themselves vying for the mirrorball trophy on DWTS. They also each had prior dance experience before making their debuts in the ABC ballroom, quickly making them front-runners on their respective seasons. In 2013, Zendaya and her partner, Val Chmerkovskiy, ended season 16 in second place behind Kellie Pickler and Derek Hough.
“That was a huge heartbreak for me because she was 16,” Chmerkovskiy, 35, told Entertainment Tonight of the loss in March 2018. “I wanted this to be such a huge moment for her. She worked so hard, and I really wanted her to lift that trophy and jump-start her career. And she didn’t lift the trophy and I felt heartbroken about that, but it jump-started her career anyway.”
The ballroom pro admitted at the time that he wished he and the Greatest Showman actress could “have another chance” at competing together, adding, “I feel like she was an incredible talent and I could’ve done better. I think I wasn’t as good as I am definitely now as a choreographer and as a teacher and dancer.”
Zendaya, for her part, previously called her time on DWTS a “process” of self-discovery.
“You learn and you grow and you figure out that you can do way more than you thought you could do here,” she said in a DWTS All Access clip. “It challenges you every single week and it’s a cool thing, but it’s also scary. … At least when I was on it, I actually had to break out of my little tiny baby bubble and that’s hard.”
After ending up in the bottom two, Siwa and Johnson (who’s married to Chmerkovskiy) are ready to redeem themselves.
“I’m just grateful that we weren’t the ones going home. … I feel like both of us love a challenge,” the Utah native said on Monday. “And I think if anything, this is going to motivate us for next week.”
Dancing With the Stars airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.