One-time beauty influencer Olivia Jade Giannulli is speaking out about her role in the college admissions scandal in her first interview since her parents, actor Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, reported to prison in recent weeks.
“There is no justifying or excusing what happened, because what happened was wrong,” Olivia Jade Giannulli said.
Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli are both currently serving federal prison sentences after pleading guilty to playing roles in faking their two daughters’ admission applications to the University of Southern California as part of a massive college admissions scandal that ensnared several Hollywood stars.
College counselor William Rick Singer admitted in his guilty plea that he accepted large sums of money to ensure that the children of very wealthy people would be accepted at very selective universities.
Singer faked resumes and athletic credentials and arranged cheating on standardized tests. In Olivia Jade Giannulli’s case, she and her sister were allegedly photographed on a rowing machine to misrepresent that they were potential college-level crew athletes.
Giannulli, 21, was later admitted to the University of Southern California, where she was a student when the scandal became public.
In the interview, Giannulli joined Jada Pinkett Smith, her mother Adrienne Banfield Norris and her daughter Willow Smith for “Red Table Talk,” a web show produced by Facebook Watch.
Banfield Norris told her daughter that she fought “tooth and nail” against Giannulli’s request to appear on the show.
“I just found it really ironic that she chose three black women to reach out to her for her redemption story,” Banfield Norris said. “Her being here is the epitome of white privilege to me.”
Pinkett Smith agreed that by inviting Giannulli on the show they were “going to get heat.”
Giannulli described the moment she first learned her parents had been ensnared in the scandal when a friend called and asked if she knew what was going on with her mother, actor Lori Loughlin. When Giannulli said did not, she thought to search the internet for her mother’s name and saw the news.
She found out while on spring break from USC and said she felt “ashamed and embarrassed” and only thought about “getting the hell home.”
“I never went back,” Giannulli said. “You know what, I shouldn’t have been there in the first place, clearly, so there was no point.”
She said that at first, she didn’t understand what her parents did wrong, but then eventually came to realize their mistake.
Giannulli said she wanted to learn from her mistake but not 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,” she said.
Giannulli revealed she had not spoken to her parents since they reported to prison, which she chalked up to Covid-19 rules.
Banfield Norris told Giannulli that after a violent year that was emotionally taxing for the Black community, “when you come to the table with something like this, it’s like, child please.”
“In the atmosphere that the world is in, it is very difficult for me to feel compassionate about you,” Banfield Norris said.
“I didn’t come on to try and win people over, and say, ‘I just really need people to like me,'” Giannulli said. “I just want to apologize for contributing to these social inequalities, and even though I maybe didn’t realize it at the time, to be able to come here and recognize that I am aware.”