JoJo Siwa had a crush on Zendaya when she was 14

As JoJo Siwa puts it, her 14th birthday started with a bang. She was visiting Walmart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, to unveil a new "JoJo doll," naturally, when disaster struck. "The tornado came, so we had to go into shelters," Siwa, now 20, tells Bustle. "It's definitely a way to start [at 14], that's for sure."

Natural disasters aside, Siwa was still able to make the most of her big day. Fans of Siwa have a lot to look forward to: Ever since she rose to fame on "Dance Moms" at age 12, she's been known for her unusually positive demeanor. From her YouTube channel to her upbeat original songs like "Boomerang" and "I Can Make U Dance," to her multiple appearances on Nickelodeon and most recently, JoJo Siwa NOW on iHeartMedia's Outspoken Podcast Network Podcast, these are the lines throughout.

"I mean, [fame] comes with struggles, but overall, I'm always very happy," Siwa said. "No matter what happens, I always see the bright side of things." At 14, Siwa was so intent on projecting that glow that she even started dressing completely "rainbow-bright": wearing colorful outfits, oversized bows, and lots of Dazzling accessories. Although she's changed her neon aesthetic, she hasn't given up on her style. Take her recent Fox reality show , "G.I. Joe: World's Toughest," for example, where she was often criticized for being too happy. "I'm definitely a joker," she said of her time on the show.

While Siwa says her optimism is far from a crutch, it's easy to see how it could have come in handy during her all-work, little-play teenage years, which she spent attending business meetings and developing her "brand." superior. . ” Still, Siwa insists that it was this innate quality that drove her to pursue entertainment and continues to drive her to this day. “The only thing I want to do in life is make the people around me happy.” . If I could do anything to make the people around me laugh, smile or giggle, I would absolutely do it," she said. "It really started when I was very young. [Then when it came to] making videos for the internet, I realized I could make millions of people happy. "

Below, Siwa reflects on her crush on Zendaya, her Grey's Anatomy obsession, and her cupcake habit.

JoJo Siwa performs on Nickelodeon's Slimefest. Andrew Benge/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Let me go back to 2017 when you were 14 years old. How do you feel about life?

My mom and I actually just moved to Los Angeles permanently, while my dad and brother are still in Nebraska. We had our little apartment in Glendale, California, and all I wanted to do was be like Jake and Logan Paul. So I bought my mom a blogging camera, and I bought myself a blogging camera, and I was like, “I need you to be Logan and I need you to be Jack.”

You move to Los Angeles to work, and on the surface, that's pretty much all you do. But what interesting things did you actually do?

Just typical kid stuff. I remember when I was 14, I went through a cupcake making phase, so I was making cupcakes every day. I went through a phase where I went to the pool all the time. I’m definitely in the Grey’s Anatomy era. I don't have as much free time as the kids do, but I always remember to have fun and make the most of what I do. But I never felt sorry for myself.

Do you have any friends your own age?

I have friends, but they are adults. I have my dancers, they are my best friends. Obviously, my mom is my best friend. I had opportunities to be friends with people my own age, but it never worked out. We would hang out but never say, “Oh, these are my people.”

You're known for having a very specific aesthetic. How did you first get introduced to all the bows and glitter? At 14 years old, do you still think that’s true?

I think it felt most real when I was 14-17 years old. When I was eighteen I was kind of like, "Oh, this feels weird." But when I was 14, I was like, "How can I look brighter, crazier, and fuller?"

What else do you like to watch besides Grey’s Anatomy ? On TV or YouTube.

At the time, on YouTube, I was into Jake and Logan Paul. I'm obsessed with little Ariel and Jacob Sartoris. I just think they're the coolest people ever, and they really are the coolest people ever. I love Hannah Montana's music, and I also love "normal" Miley Cyrus. And "Dance Moms" which I watch every day.

Shiva at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Mark Salioko/WireImage/Getty Images

How did your body feel at that time?

I went through puberty very late [because I was] very active and stressed. I remember it wasn’t until I was almost 16 that I started enjoying Ladies Week. Then, it wasn't until I was 17 that it became stable. Now I'm thinking, "You lucky rat. You don't have to deal with that, then."

Were there any celebrities you had a crush on at the time?

I came out when I was 17 years old. When I was 14, I had a crush on Zac Efron, but I thought that was a cover for my crush on Zendaya. I guess I'm trying to find an excuse to say that I really like [ The Greatest Showman's ] "Rewrite the Stars." But that ’s not for Zac Efron.

In fact, I find myself able to appreciate men in a "I think that guy is really hot" kind of way. But my standards for women are much stricter. I think all women are beautiful, but for me, it takes a little more effort to be truly obsessed with them.

What advice would you give 14-year-old JoJo?

tension! Because you lose all your flexibility and then have to regain it immediately for Dancing with the Stars . I would tell 14 year old JoJo to enjoy these cupcakes because one day you will care about eating them, so enjoy them while you don't. I would tell 14-year-old JoJo to do what she's doing. I wouldn't change a thing.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity .