JoJo Siwa has stepped away from starring in the Will Smith-produced film Bounce.
The 18-year-old singer and actress is no longer a part of the movie — which was set to be brought to life by Smith’s production company, Overbrook Entertainment, and Paramount Pictures, according to Variety.
Sources told the outlet that Siwa dropped out of the project “months ago” and her removal is in no way related to Smith’s incident at the 2022 Academy Awards, where he slapped comedian Chris Rock on stage for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
“That project got put on hold, and then went away,” Siwa told Variety over the weekend. “It wasn’t the one.”
The YouTube star then reiterated that her exit from the project had nothing to do with Smith’s Oscars controversy, adding, “I normally stay out of all politics, it’s not my gig. But, I will say that being kind to one another is very important. I think that can go both ways, kindness.”
Insiders also told Variety that Paramount Pictures has removed the project from its development slate altogether.
Bounce, which is based on the young adult novel of the same name by Megan Shull, was first announced in the summer of 2020, Variety reported. The Christmas movie was set to be directed by To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before filmmaker Susan Johnson.
In June 2021, Siwa appeared on Entertainment Weekly‘s Pride digital cover, where she talked about dealing with fame and coming out publicly as part of the LGBTQ community, as well as how she was trying to have a romantic scene between herself and a man removed from the film.
“I’m madly in love and I do not want to kiss another human. Especially because it’s a man,” Siwa told EW, adding that her fans likely wouldn’t separate her persona from her character Franny on-screen: “That’s what they look at me as, not some character, not some fictional thing. And so it’s going to be a little weird.”
“I’m not about it,” she continued of the kissing scene. “I’m trying to get it pulled so bad. It’ll happen. It’ll get pulled.”
That same week, Siwa then updated fans that Paramount had agreed to cut the footage. “My friends at paramount and my friend Caleeb Pinkett are 1000% supportive of me and assured me that I don’t have to do anything I don’t wanna do ever!!!” the Nickelodeon star tweeted at the time. “I’m so excited to make the movie ‘Bounce’ and couldn’t have better people to make it with!!🎥❤️.”[via]