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JoJo Siwa, Tisha Campbell Martin and Laura Soltis – Taking One for The J Team

JoJo Siwa, Tisha Campbell Martin and Laura Soltis

Taking One for The J Team

By Lindsey Blick

Are you ready to join The J Team? Now you have your chance.

The new movie The J Team is an epic original that is about a young girl who gets turned upside down when her dance coach retires. That coach is replaced by Poppy, a sparkle-hating trainer who doesn't fit her personality. As JoJo and her friends, The Rubies, prepare for the upcoming dance competition, they must adhere to Poppy's harsh rules.

In spite of her efforts to dull her shine for Poppy, JoJo now realizes she can't hide her vivacity. After being expelled from her dance troupe, she has to reevaluate how important dance is to her.

The J Team stars social media sensation JoJo Siwa. It co-stars Tisha Campbell Martin (Empire) as hard-line coach Poppy. Laura Soltis (Hiccups) plays Val. The Rubies troupe is made up of Julia Marley (Dead to Me) as Nina, Kerrynton Jones (Little Fires Everywhere) and Kiara T. Romero (The Prom).

It was directed by former-actor-turned filmmaker Michael Lembeck (The Santa Clause 2 & 3, Tooth Fairy). Eydie Faye of Fuller House wrote the screenplay. Ron French (Five Star Christmas) and Don Dunn (To All The Boys I've Loved Before) are producers.

In a recent interview, Pop Entertainment spoke to some of the stars about the new movie.

I know that being yourself has always been a big theme for you throughout your life. Did you have a hand in writing the script for The J Team?

JoJo Siwa: Oh yeah! Actually in the beginning my mom had the idea of doing the movie. She pitched the idea. Nickelodeon loved it. We ended up getting a writer – our writer [Eydie Faye]. She’s incredible! She came and had the idea of The J Team and all of that. From there I got to have my eyes on the script the whole time and got to make any notes. When we were filming the movie there was a point in time where I was like: Was I playing JoJo or was I just being JoJo? The answer was I was playing JoJo. I said that I would not do the movie and would leave if I had to play JoJo. I can’t do that. I can only be JoJo. They were like “Alright let’s be JoJo.” I was like: PERFECT! It’s funny because everyone on set used to make fun of me because I would never read the script, but I would know all the lines. They were like, “You have to read the script. How do you know these?” I would just say what I would say naturally. I didn’t even have to think. It was the best.

I know you said that working in the studio was one of your favorite parts of working on the film. Did you already have the songs made before you started working on the movie, or did that come after?

JoJo Siwa: I actually started writing the music before the songwriting music team even came into the picture. So, I have been on the music side of the movie forever. It’s a cool way to get out how you’re feeling.

What was it like for you to be an executive producer on the movie?

JoJo Siwa: It’s funny actually. The director {Michael Lembeck] and I, at the beginning of the movie did not have the best relationship. We were at each other all the time. He wanted his way and obviously I wanted my way. Now I love the guy. He’s like my family. But then he said, “Well, I’ll just take it to the producers and see what they say.” And me – knowing that I am the executive producer – I was like, okay do it! I’m going to get my way! So, it was cool to be an executive producer on it. It was cool to have that say in the film. It’s a film based around my life. I’m not playing a character. Nobody can tell me how to play me better than I can. So, I think that having an executive producer role made that way more achievable.

How did you both end up getting involved in this project?

Laura Soltis: I was asked to audition in early December. It was still Covid-time, so we were all self-taping. I put my self-tape together and send it into cyber-space. Christmas holidays came and went and sometime in the new year my agent called me up and said “Laura, you got the role of Val.” I was so excited. It was my lucky day!

Tisha Campbell Martin: For me, the script had come across my desk, and I was actually about to choose to do a different film. After I read the script and after I found out JoJo was the lead – of course everyone knew who JoJo was, as she was being very vocal in the media – I wanted to support that. So, I decided to not to the other film. Over the years I stopped taking things for money or the glory. Sometimes I work for the principle. This film was about authenticity. It was about being your real self. I wanted to be a part of it!

It looked like such a fun set to work on. Do either of you have a favorite memory from working on set?

Laura Soltis: Oh, it was so much fun! On one of the last days of filming, JoJo just spontaneously sat down at a grand piano and started playing “Bohemian Rhapsody.” We were blown away! Of course, the entire cast and the crew flocks to the piano. We are all singing Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It was just a fun, fun moment. I am never going to forget that.

Tisha Campbell Martin: I am going to have to say the same here. It would have to be a JoJo moment. Getting to know her. Getting to watch her operate as our producer, as the star of the show. She is still a very grounded, kind, amazing human being. Kind to everybody, very giving. You would think that somebody with that much talent would be a mess and not kind at all. I run into a lot of people like that in this business. She is just a very incredible woman.

When asked what one message they hope viewers walk away with after watching the movie both Tisha and Laura agreed it was to “sparkle.” Never let anyone dull your shine!

The J Team will premiere on September 3rd on Paramount+ and Siwas’s original soundtrack is available now!

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: September 2, 2021.

Photos ©2021. Courtesy of Paramount+. All rights reserved.


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