JoJo Siwa didn’t make it to The Masked Singer‘s Super Nine dressed as the T-Rex, but at least she can finally share her prehistoric secret with the world.
“I’m excited for the world to know,” the Dance Moms alumna, 16, tells PEOPLE. “I couldn’t wait to share it with everybody.”
The singer-actress-YouTuber initially had judge Ken Jeong thinking a Kardashian could be under the dino costume because of “keeping up” and “northwest” references, while other panelists suggested online personalities Rebecca Black, Liza Koshy and Lilly Singh because of allusions to YouTube. Jenny McCarthy started to get close with the suggestion of Siwa’s Dance Moms costar Maddie Ziegler, but by Wednesday night’s episode, McCarthy, 47, identified Siwa as the T-Rex, and fellow judges Nicole Scherzinger and Robin Thicke agreed.
Michael Becker / FOX JoJo Siwa’s final performance as T-Rex on The Masked Singer.
And they weren’t the only ones. Siwa says she’d been receiving messages from fans since Group C made its debut earlier this month about her potentially being T-Rex. “Oh my God, so many people,” Siwa says of fans guessing her before the reveal. “And it’s so hard not to reply to them. But you just can’t!”
Siwa went out with “Jai Ho (You Are My Destiny)” by A.R. Rahman and Scherzinger’s Pussycat Dolls, and the pop star, 41, even joined the young dancer on stage for her final performance after being unmasked.
Now, Siwa reveals why she went on The Masked Singer when she already reaches over 10 million subscribers on YouTube and 9 million followers on Instagram — and how it really felt bouncing around in that T-Rex outfit.
What made you select the T-Rex costume?
I think because it’s so unlike me. I could’ve been a unicorn, but then it would be so obvious. The T-Rex, it’s very unobvious that it’s me. It definitely makes me look older.
Why did you want to do the show?
I think if anybody got the opportunity to be on The Masked Singer, they’d be crazy to say no. So for me, I was like, I have to do it! I can’t say no to this. It’s such a good opportunity.
Do you feel like it’ll introduce you to a new demographic?
For sure! It’s TV’s No. 1 show. It’s such a big deal to be a part of this.
How did it feel for Jenny McCarthy and Nicole Scherzinger to guess you?
It’s pretty awesome. It’s exciting when they guess you. When they guess you, you get a sense of wow, people can really tell who I am by just my voice. It’s crazy!
They’d previously guessed Maddie Ziegler, which isn’t far off. Were you laughing to yourself about that?
It was so funny because I said to the producer, like, “They’re going to guess me!” And she’s like, “You’ll be surprised. You’re going to laugh at some of the guesses because it’s just so funny who they think it is.” Then it came out and I was like, Maddie’s one of my best friends, what are the odds that they guessed her?
You probably hadn’t been able to tell her yet that you were doing the show.
No! Her mom actually had asked if it was me and I was just like, “I can’t reply! I can’t tell you.”
How intense was the secrecy on set?
To keep the show a secret, it’s like nobody is told. I always had to be covered head-to-toe. My mom, when she would come with me, had to be covered head-to-toe and my best friend had to be covered head-to-toe. And you’re only referred to as your character. Even the choreographer would be like, “Alright, T-Rex, are you ready from the top?” And I’d be like, “You can call me JoJo.” And he’s like, “No, I can’t!” On set they have, it’s like a swear jar — if you call somebody by their real names you have to put a dollar in the jar.
Andrew Toth/Getty; Michael Becker / FOX JoJo Siwa
After being unmasked, you said you had been staying up until midnight to work on your performances.
I made sure that all my performances were perfect and spotless because I didn’t want anybody to say, “You could have done better” or “You didn’t try your fullest.” I wanted to make sure that I worked as hard as I possibly could have and did everything I possibly could to make my performance the best that it possibly could have been. And honestly, I think I did that.
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Is that how you would approach a regular concert outside of The Masked Singer?
For sure. I always, always, always make sure that no matter what I’m doing, whether it’s a small project or a big project, that it’s 100 percent, that I’m doing every single thing that I possibly can for it.
Did you feel like the mask was restrictive while you were performing?
It was hard to move around because of the tail. The tail was a struggle and the mask was heavy. I like to dance so much, so I was like, “I hope it doesn’t fly off! What happens if the mask flies off?” It didn’t! I struggled for a minute and a half of my life [during performances] but it was all worth it.
Who was the coach who talked about you in your last clue package?
That was actually Richy Jackson. He is my choreographer and he is also Lady Gaga’s choreographer. He’s awesome. He’s one of the most incredible people ever.
In some of the previous clue packages, you talked about your early days of fame and hinted at getting your start on Dance Moms. How do you reflect on that period now?
I loved it. It was always so fun. It’s always going to be a part of my life no matter what and so I just look back on it and I can only remember having fun.
Were you surprised Nick Cannon didn’t recognize you from Lip Sync Battle Shorties, which he hosts along with Masked Singer?
I feel like Nick recognized me right away. How could he not? But I guess he didn’t. I feel like deep down inside he had to have. I mean, come on!
You had some clues referring to the Kardashians — have you kept in touch with Kim since babysitting her daughter North West?
Oh yeah, I was actually just talking to Kim like two days ago. They’re such good people, they really are. You never know how people are going to be in real life, but the Kardashians are some of the sweetest, nicest people ever.
You had to postpone your tour because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but do you have any other upcoming projects you want people to know about?
I have so much and I just can’t talk about it. I have new music — I actually just got one of my new songs back, which I’m so excited to listen to. I’ve got music videos coming out, I’ve got more secret TV and movie situations coming out, but I can’t talk about any of them and it’s horrible!
Any tips for any of your young fans on how to stay busy during this unprecedented time?
Just do something that you’ve always wanted to do because now we have the time. Like for me, I’ve always wanted to get a six-pack and I’m like you know what, I have the time right now and I have the facilities, I’m doing it. So that’s my goal for this little time period. Learn a new language! Better yourself in this time.
The Masked Singer airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Fox.