Olivia Jade Giannulli was an open book during her appearance on Tuesday’s Red Table Talk. The 21-year-old daughter of Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli sat down with Jada Pinkett Smith as well as Jada’s mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, and Jada’s 20-year-old daughter, Willow, and broke her silence on her headline-making college admissions scandal.
Read on for everything Olivia Jade revealed about how the scandal unfolded, her parents’ intentions and how her family is learning and moving on from the experience.
She reached out to Jada:
Jada landed the big interview of Olivia Jade breaking her silence because Olivia Jade actually reached out to her.
“She called and wanted to come to our table and we all had very different feelings about it,” Jada admitted, before noting her mother was very much against giving Olivia Jade a platform to speak.
Adrienne noted, “I found it really ironic that she chose 3 Black women to reach out to for her redemption story. I feel like here we are, a 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.”
For her part, Olivia Jade said she wasn’t on Red Table Talk to make excuses, but rather, to apologize for her actions and stress that she is going to do better.
“I think that this has been a really eye-opening experience for me, and although there is a lot of negative around it and a lot of mistakes and wrongdoings, it’s led me to have a completely different outlook on a lot of situations,” she said. “I also felt like I wanted to be somewhere where I didn’t feel, like, attacked, and maybe I could feel more understood. I have watched the show and I think you guys are all amazing and it feels really safe. But it also feels honest and it feels like we are gonna all lay it out here and it’s going to be an open conversation, which is really important to me as well.”
“I think what was important was for me to come here and say I am sorry,” she also said. “I acknowledge what was wrong and I wasn’t able to say that for so long, so I think people almost thought, ‘Oh, she must not care, that must have not affected her and she was not moved by that.’ I took my privilege and all my blessings for granted and I never thought anything of it and that’s what really wrecked me. This is wrong, you need to talk about this, you need to do it publicly because the situation was public and then you need to move forward and do better.”
How she first found out about the scandal:
Olivia Jade was on spring break when she got the phone call that would change her life.
“I just remember getting a call and it was like, ‘Hey Liv, have you talked to your mom?'” she recalled. “And I was like, ‘No, why?’ And they were like, ‘Well, I will just let you talk to her and then call me back.’ So I hang up the phone and had this really weird gut feeling but I didn’t know what she was talking about. I was like, I am just gonna search my mom’s name up and it’s everywhere. I was sitting with a group of friends and I knew any second everybody was gonna know too if they didn’t already. And I remember just, like, freezing and feeling so ashamed. I went home and hid myself for probably, like, three or four months and school was still in session. Technically, after spring break, I was going back to school. I felt so ashamed and embarrassed and even though I didn’t 100 percent understand what just had happened because there was a lot that when I was applying, I was not fully aware of what was going on, so when I got home, I just felt so ashamed. I was like, ‘I can’t go back there, this is wrong,’ but I just remember feeling embarrassed, ashamed and getting the hell home.
Olivia Jade never returned to USC.
“Yeah, I never went back. I was too embarrassed,” she shared. “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 initially didn’t realize her and her parents had done anything wrong:
Olivia Jade admitted that her own privilege led her to not understand at first why her parents’ actions were wrong.
“When all of this first happened and it became public, I remember thinking — which, my thoughts are completely different now — but I remember thinking, ‘How are people mad about this?'” she recalled. “I know that sounds so silly but in the bubble I grew up in, I didn’t know so much outside of it, and a lot of kids in that bubble, their kids were donating to schools and doing stuff …. so many advantages, it’s not fair and its not right, but it was happening. And so when this first came out, I was like, ‘I don’t really understand, what is wrong with this?'”
She implied that her parents had a similar mindset.
“I just want people to know, they were just, like, in their heads,” she said. “It was like, ‘Everybody has a college counselor and I will just donate to a school like all my friends did with their kids,’ and I think what is crazier is how so many people in our area don’t recognize that it’s wrong. I think although it took a crazy experience for me and my family to realize that, I am happy that we do. That will never happen when I have kids — that will never happen.”
Olivia Jade isn’t asking for pity.
“That’s why it’s hard because I’m not trying to come off like … I am not trying to victimize myself,” she 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, and for so long, I wasn’t able to talk about this because of the legalities behind it. I never got to say I am 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.”
Why her parents wanted her and her older sister, Bella, to go to USC:
Olivia Jade said she wasn’t angry at her parents when the scandal first broke, but rather was “confused.”
“I think that although I’ve had a really strong relationship with my mom and dad my whole life, I was definitely confused when this all came out and I went and confronted them about everything,” she revealed. “They didn’t have much to say except, like, ‘I am so sorry. I really messed up in trying to give the best to you and your sister.’ They are my family and I have known them since I was out of the womb, so I know they are good people and I know that I am not gonna judge them for a mistake they made. Although it’s a big one, they are gonna pay the price for it. Regardless of what people say, I have seen them day in and day out and how they have received all of this and I know that they have struggled.”
Olivia Jade also revealed why her dad wanted both her and her 22-year-old sister, Bella, to go to USC so badly. Giannulli and Loughlin paid $500,000 in bribes to get them both admitted to the University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team, though neither of them had ever participated in the sport. They initially pleaded not guilty to all charges leveled against them, claiming their payments were donations to the school and not bribes.
“I really believe my dad has attachment issues and didn’t want us to leave California for starters,” she said. “I think he just loves his kids and we are his two daughters and wanted them close. My mom, really for most of the time when I was applying to 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 that, I am out, I am going to work now,’ because she put off so much work to raise us, so she felt like she got us to an age where we could handle ourselves and she went back to working. I think having us close to home was a big one. I think knowing he knew a lot of people that went there and had amazing experiences. He was so tunnel vision on, ‘I just want my kids to have a good college experience and I just want them to have an amazing education and I know I can give that to them.’ Neither of them went to college, so I think it was important to them. ‘We didn’t get to have that, I want to give it to you.’ But they wanted to give it to us a little too much.”
She hasn’t spoken to her parents since they started their prison sentences:
Loughlin began her two-month prison sentence on Oct. 30 at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, while Giannulli began his five-month prison sentence on Nov. 19 at USP Lompoc in Santa Barbara, California.
“It’s been hard,” Olivia Jade said about her parents both being currently in jail. “I think for anybody, no matter what the situation, you don’t want to see your parents go to prison, but also I think it is necessary for us to move on and move forward.”
She said she hasn’t spoken to either of them since they began their sentences.
“There’s a quarantine phase just because of COVID, so I think that is the reason but I am not too sure, I just haven’t heard anything so I am just waiting,” she said. “I have never gone that long without … I am super close with my parents, especially my mom, she is like my best friend. It definitely has been really hard not being able to talk to her and I know she is strong and I know it is a good reflection period. I’m trying to look at the positives in situations. I know that it’s a positive. She is there right now, she gets to rethink everything that happened, kind of figure out when she comes out what she wants to do with what she’s learned from all of this. I think that hopefully will be a blessing in the end.”
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