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Lori Loughlin's daughter Olivia Jade on college admissions scandal: 'I was not fully aware of what was going on'

Taryn Ryder
·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·11 min read
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Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli’s daughter, Olivia Jade, is speaking out about the college admissions scandal for the first time.

Olivia Jade broke her silence on Tuesday’s Red Table Talk and revealed what she knew about the bribery scheme that landed her parents in prison. The 21-year-old influencer was apologetic, but hopes her family gets a “second chance.”

Lori Loughlin's daughter Olivia Jade is "so sorry" about the college admissions scandal and says she now understands "why people are angry."
Lori Loughlin's daughter Olivia Jade is "so sorry" about the college admissions scandal and says she now understands "why people are angry." (Photo: Getty Images)

“I’m not trying to victimize myself,” a nervous Olivia Jade declared. “I don’t want pity, I don’t deserve pity. We messed up.”

The beauty vlogger admitted that when the scandal unfolded in 2019, she didn’t think anyone did anything wrong — but maintained she now recognizes her privilege.

“To be honest, I wasn’t angry. And I think it’s because I didn’t have a good understanding of what just happened. I didn’t see the wrong in it,” she said. “I was like, ‘Why is everyone complaining, I’m confused what we did?’”

Olivia Jade also shed light on her parents’ mindset throughout the ordeal and said she’s standing by them.

“I was definitely confused when this all came out, and I went and confronted [my parents] about everything. They didn’t really have much to say except ‘I am so sorry. I really messed up in trying to give the best to you and your sister,’” she explained at one point. “I know they’re good people and I know I’m not going to judge them for a mistake they made. Although it’s a big one, they’re going to pay the price for it. Regardless of what people say, I’ve seen them day in and day out and how they’ve received all of this and I know they’ve struggled.”

The 30-minute episode of the Facebook Watch show kicked off with Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Jones disagreeing about the forthcoming interview.

“We all had very different feelings about it,” Pinkett Smith told viewers. Her mother, Banfield-Jones, expressed displeasure about bringing Olivia Jade to the red table.

“I just found it really ironic that she chose three Black women to reach out to for her redemption story,” Banfield-Jones shared before the sit-down. “I feel like here we are, white woman coming to Black women for support when we don’t get the same from them. It’s bothersome to me on so many levels. Her being here is the epitome of white privilege to me.”

“I feel like Olivia deserves a space,” Pinkett Smith declared.

When Olivia Jade walked out she said she’s “nervous” but “excited” to tell her story.

“I think that this has been a really eye-opening experience for me and situation, and although there’s a lot of negative around it, and there’s a lot of mistakes and wrongdoings, it’s led me to have a completely different outlook on a lot of situations,” she explained.

Loughlin and Giannulli are both in prison stemming from a plea deal reached with prosecutors. The Full House star and her fashion designer husband pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges for paying $500,000 to get their two daughters illegally admitted into the University of Southern California. Olivia Jade said “it’s been hard” with her parents behind bars.

“I think for anybody no matter what the situation is, you don’t want to see your parents go to prison,” she said. “But I also think it’s necessary for us to move on and move forward.”

Olivia Jade said the family “definitely did” sit down and have a discussion before prison.

“I think that what hasn’t been super public is that there is no justifying or excusing what happened because what happened is wrong,” she explained. “I think every single person in my family can be like, ‘That was messed up. That was a big mistake.’ But I think what’s so important to me is to learn from the mistake, not to now be shamed and punished and never be given a second chance. I’m 21, I feel like I deserve a second chance to redeem myself, to show I’ve grown.”

Loughlin started her prison sentence on Oct. 30 while Giannulli reported on Nov. 19. Olivia Jade had yet to speak to either of them when she taped the interview.

“I just haven’t heard anything, so I’m just waiting,” she said, explaining COVID-19 protocols might be to blame.

“I’ve never gone that long [without talking to them]. I’m super close with my parents, especially my mom she’s like my best friend, so it’s definitely been really hard not being able to talk to her,” Olivia Jade noted.

“But I know she’s strong and I know it’s a good reflection period. I’m trying to look at the positives in situations, you know? And I know that it’s a positive she’s in there right now,” she continued. “She gets to really rethink everything that happened, kind of figure out, you know, when she comes out what she wants to do with what she’s learned through all of this. And I think that hopefully that will be a blessing in the end.”

As for how she found out about the scandal, Olivia Jade, then a freshman at USC, said she was on spring break with her friends.

“I remember just, like, freezing and feeling so ashamed. I went home and hid myself for probably like three or four months,” she said. “I felt so ashamed and embarrassed.”

However, Olivia Jade said she “didn’t really 100 percent understand what just had happened.”

“There was a lot that, when I was applying, I was not fully aware of what was going on,” she said. “So when I got home I just felt so ashamed. I was like ‘I can’t go back [to school], this is wrong.’ I just remember feeling embarrassed, ashamed and getting the hell home.”

Olivia Jade said she never returned to college because she was “too embarrassed.”

“And you know what? I shouldn’t have been there in the first place, clearly, so there was no point in me trying to go back,” she added.

After the scandal, Olivia Jade, a popular YouTuber, lost endorsements, followers and business opportunities, but the women pointed out she didn’t face serious repercussions.

“I feel like you will be fine” Banfield-Jones said.

“And there are other people that wouldn’t be fine,” Pinkett Smith pointed out.

“That’s why it’s hard, because I’m not trying to come across… I’m not trying to victimize myself,” Olivia Jade said. “I don’t want pity, I don’t deserve pity. We messed up. I just want a second chance to be like, I recognize I messed up.”

The social media influencer said she couldn’t come forward and apologize earlier due to legal reasons.

“I never got to say, ‘I’m really sorry that this happened’ or ‘I really own that this was a big mess up on everybody’s part.’ But I think everybody feels that way in my family right now,” she said.

The topic turned to privilege, which Olivia Jade said she’s been learning about and noted her family was “so ignorant.”

“I feel like a huge part of having privilege is not knowing you have privilege,” she said.

Loughlin’s daughter was candid in admitting she saw nothing wrong with what her parents did — at first. She thought at the time, “I don’t understand what’s wrong with this.”

“When it was happening it didn’t feel wrong,” she shared. “I was in my own little bubble, focusing on my own little comfortable world.”

“When all this first happened and it became public, I remember thinking… how are people mad about this?” she added. “A lot of kids in that bubble, their parents were donating to schools and doing stuff that advantaged — so many advantages.”

Olivia Jade noted that she has “felt very misunderstood” throughout the ordeal.

“The picture that has been painted of me, I feel like is not who I am. I’m not this bratty girl that doesn’t want to change anything. Also, I understand why people are angry,” she said, adding there’s “some truth” in all the backlash surrounding her.

“I understood that people were upset and angry and maybe it took me a little bit longer to understand what for, but man am I glad I did realize what for. Better late than never,” she continued.

Olivia Jade said her “thoughts are completely different now” about the scandal and that she recognizes her privilege. She was then pressed if she really understands what privilege is.

“I understand that just based off of my skin color, I already had my foot in the door and I was already ahead of everybody else,” she replied. “Going forward, I do want to do stuff to change that and to help that.” She said she has been volunteering at an after-hours school in Watts, California.

Olivia Jade emphasized she “can understand how wrong” the whole situation is before shedding light on her parents’ frame of mind ahead of the scandal.

“We had the means to do something and we completely took it and ran with it and it was something that was wrong,” she stated. “It really can’t be excused. On paper it’s bad. It’s really bad. But I think what a lot of people don’t know is my parents came from a place of just, ‘I love my kids, I just want to help my kids, whatever’s best for them. I’ve worked my whole life just to provide for my family.’ I think they thought it was normal.”

Olivia Jade pointed the finger at William “Rick” Singer, without mentioning his name, who facilitated the bribe for Loughlin and Giannulli.

“I think that there was a college counselor involved who seemed legitimate and ended up not being legitimate,” she said, explaining how in her world and “community” having a counselor involved is “not out of the ordinary.”

“It’s embarrassing to say that I didn’t know,” she said.

As for why her parents were so intent on getting her and her sister, Isabella Rose, into USC, Olivia Jade had a theory.

“I really believe my dad has attachment issues and didn’t want us to leave California, for starters. I think he just loves his kids and we’re his two daughters and wanted them close. My mom really for most of the time when I was applying for school was in Canada shooting a movie. She was involved in my whole childhood, but when it came to that she was like ‘Moss, you handle it, I’m out,’” she said.

“Neither of them went to college so I think it was important for them, like, we didn’t get to have that I want to give it to you,” she continued. “They wanted to give it to us a little too much.”

Although Olivia Jade didn’t delve too much into what she thought was happening during the application process, she wanted people to know she worked hard in high school.

“I don’t want to discredit myself,” she said. “I really did care I was always a very involved student. I think that I put a lot of trust into a person who claimed that their profession was college counseling and it led me in the wrong direction. It’s not to shift blame, it’s just to explain I wasn’t aware of what’s going on.”

Olivia Jade said she was “confused” when it came out what she had supposedly written on her college application. (She and her sister were admitted into USC as crew recruits despite neither girl having played the sport.)

“I remember writing on my application about my YouTube Channel and VidCon and they were two very different things. So there was a lot of it, I was like, ‘Whoa,’” she said. “I’ve made a million mistakes and this one... on my family’s part or whatever was a really big one. I just want people to know in their heads [it was] ‘Everybody has a college counselor and I’m just going to donate to a school like all my friends did with their kids.’”

She said it’s crazy how many people in their bubble don’t “recognize that it’s wrong.”

“When I have kids, that will never happen,” she said.

“I took my privilege and all my blessings for granted and I never thought anything of it and that’s what really rocked me,” Olivia Jade concluded. “I was like, this is wrong, you need to talk about this, you need to do it publicly because this situation was public and then you need to move forward and do better.”

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