JoJo Siwa is returning to “So You Think You Can Dance” as a judge for the show’s reimagined Season 18. Siwa, who was previously a judge on the show’s Season 17 in 2022, replaces Nigel Lythgoe — who stepped down earlier this month in the wake of two lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault.
Siwa will now join choreographer Allison Holker and pro dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy on the show’s judging panel. Presenter and author Cat Deeley hosts the dance competition series, which premieres its 18th season on Monday, March 4 at 9 p.m. ET on Fox.
Siwa is a dancer, singer and actor who boasts more than 70 million followers across social media and was named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People” in 2020. Siwa released a debut EP in 2018, and is currently in the studio recording a follow-up. The performer was most recently on Fox as a contestant on Season 2 of “Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test.” Siwa also made history on another dance competition series, ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” as part of that show’s first same-sex couple, in Season 30.
“SYTYCD” Season 18 will continue to feature contestants competing in dance challenges, with weekly eliminations leading to a $100,000 grand prize winner. For the first time, the show is also featuring new documentary-style chronicles of the contestants’ journey.
This reps the second consecutive season that Fox and the show’s producers were forced to swap judges after production got underway. In Season 17, Leah Remini was brought in to replace Matthew Morrison after the “Glee” alum had to exit the judging panel over failing to follow “competition production protocols.” (At the time, he was reportedly sending private messages to a contestant.)
In this case, Lythgoe — who is an executive producer on “SYTYCD” and has been a judge since it began in 2005 — left the show after Sony Pictures Television’s 19 Entertainment, which co-produces “So You Think You Can Dance,” has opened an investigation over the lawsuits against Lythgoe.
In one suit, Lythgoe was accused by Paula Abdul of groping and forcibly kissing her in an elevator about 20 years ago. In a second lawsuit, two contestants on “All American Girl” also accused him of forcibly trying to kiss them after a wrap party in 2003.
At the time, Fox, 19 Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions (which also produces) wrote in a statement that the upcoming season “will proceed, although without Nigel Lythgoe, to ensure the show remains committed to the contestants, who have worked incredibly hard for the opportunity to compete on our stage.”