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AJ McLean Assumed There Would Be a ‘Dark Side’ to Taylor Swift — But ‘There Isn’t’

AJ McLean Says Taylor Swift Remembering His Daughters Name Catapulted Her Into the Stratosphere
AJ McLean and Taylor Swift Getty Images (2)

AJ McLean is full of praise for Taylor Swift, sharing a sweet story about how the pop star remembered his daughter Elliott’s name.

“She is, by far, in my opinion, one of the most grounded, humble performers ever,” McLean, 46, said of Swift, 34, during the Tuesday, May 28, episode of the “Getting Grilled with Curtis Stone” podcast. “It’s like, ‘OK, something’s gotta be off about you. There’s gotta be, like, a dark side.’ And there isn’t.”

The Backstreet Boys alum said that Swift met his 11-year-old daughter “three times,” adding, “And the last time she met her, she remembered her name, which that, as a dad alone, catapulted her into the stratosphere for me.”

“You know, we were backstage,” McLean recalled of taking Elliot to see the “Cruel Summer” singer perform. “She came back … She’s like, ‘Ava.’ And I was just like, ‘What? Mind blown.’”

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McLean and estranged wife Rochelle McLean share Elliott, who changed her name from Ava four years ago, and Lyric, 7.

AJ McLean Says Taylor Swift Remembering His Daughters Name Catapulted Her Into the Stratosphere
AJ McLean and daughter Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

“She felt like her name wasn’t unique and she was watching Pete’s Dragon one day. …  She wanted that name [after the dragon], but with two T’s,” McLean said on the podcast “God forbid, I spell it with one T. And she’s been Elliott ever since.”

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Rochelle, 42, first addressed the name change in 2022 via social media. “For those asking… not that it’s anyone’s business but Elliot’s [SIC] name change is not a gender thing,” she wrote via  herInstagram Story at the time. “‘Ava’ has changed her name quite a few times since she was about five. Last year she asked us to start calling her Elliot and it stuck. She wanted something unique that no one else had. (There are so many Ava’s.)”

The makeup artist also shared more about how the family reacted to their child’s request.

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“I didn’t really see the harm in respecting her desire to be unique. Come to think of it, it’s a little odd that as parents we choose names for people we haven’t even met yet and expect them to forever [identify] as that person!” she continued. “Anyway… so that’s how Ava became Elliot [SIC].”

That same year, McLean told People that he “didn’t know if it was a transgender thing” at first, noting, “Which it is not, but it is a personal choice.”

“And it is her body, it’s her name, it’s her everything,” he continued. “And she’s still Ava. She’ll always be Ava to me.”

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