Months after her parents were sentenced to jail in the college admissions scandal, Olivia Jade Giannulli, daughter of Lori Loughlin, has broken her silence in a new interview. On the talk show Red Table Talk on December 7, the 21-year-old revealed how much she knew about her parents’ scheme, how she handled the scandal and how she plans to move forward.
Giannulli told hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Jones that, while she had been involved in her college application process, she wasn’t “fully aware” of her parents’ actions.
“When it was happening it didn’t feel wrong,” she said. “I was in my own little bubble, focusing on my comfortable world. I never had to look outside of that bubble. . . A lot of kids in that bubble, their parents were donating to schools and doing stuff with so many advantages.”
When the scandal broke, Giannulli says she didn’t understand what her parents had done wrong.
“I didn’t look at it and say, ‘Oh my God, like, how dare we do this?’ I was like, ‘Why is everybody complaining?’ I was confused what we did,” she said. “That’s embarrassing to admit.”
Giannulli also felt embarrassed that the scandal had given an impression of her as a lazy and entitled student.
“I wasn’t slacking in high school. I don’t want to discredit myself to the point where I was like, I have all this and I also didn’t care,” she said. “I really did care. I was also a very involved student.”
Her mistake, she said, was trusting that William “Rick” Singer, whom her parents paid $500,000 dollars for help getting her into the University of Southern California, was a legitimate college counselor.
“I think I put a lot of trust into a person that claimed their profession was college counseling and it led me in a wrong direction,” Giannulli said. “It’s not to shift blame, it’s just to explain that I wasn’t aware of what was going on.”
For their payment to Singer, Giannulli’s parents received stiff legal penalties, including jail time. Her mother Lori Loughlin is currently serving a two-month prison sentence, while father Mossimo Giannuli is serving five months. Both parents face fines, community service and two years of supervised release following their incarceration.
“I think for anybody, no matter what the situation is, you don’t want to see your parents go to prison,” Olivia Jade said. “But also, I think it’s necessary for us to move on and move forward.”
The Red Table Talk hosts didn’t let Giannulli’s comments pass without scrutiny, however.
“I just found it really ironic that she chose three black women to reach out to for her redemption story,” Banfield-Jones commented to her co-hosts. “It’s bothersome to me on so many levels. Her being here is the epitome of white privilege to me.”
During the conversation, Banfield-Jones voiced her concerns directly to Giannulli.
“I’m exhausted with everything that we have to deal with in our community and I just don’t have the energy to put into the fact that you lost your endorsements,” the host said. “Or you’re not in school right now. Because at the end of the day you’re gonna be okay.”
In response, Giannulli said it was “embarrassing” that she had “walked around my whole 20 years of life not realizing” her level of privilege.
“I understand why people are angry and I understand why people say hurtful things, and I would too if I wasn’t in my boat,” she said.
In order to make up for her family’s mistakes, Giannulli now works with after-school programs to help inner-city youth.
“I think that this has been a really eye-opening experience for me, 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 said.
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