Olivia Jade Giannulli Breaks Her Silence on the College Admissions Scandal: 'We Messed Up'
Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, parents to Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose, were both sentenced to prison time this year
In her first interview since news of the controversy broke last year, the 21-year-old influencer sat down for Tuesday's episode of Jada Pinkett Smith's Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk, where she opened up about parents Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli's prison sentences.
Loughlin, 56, and Mossimo, 57, are both currently serving time in prison after pleading guilty in May. The Full House star admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, while husband Mossimo pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud and one count of honest services wire and mail fraud.
"It's been hard," Olivia began on the show. "I think for anybody, no matter what the situation is, you don't want to see your parents go to prison, but also I think it's necessary for us to move on and move forward."
And though it's been difficult, she said she recognizes that the family "messed up."
"I'm not trying to victimize myself. 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,'" she said. "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."
Olivia also walked Pinkett Smith and her co-hosts, daughter Willow Smith and mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris, through the moment when she first learned that the scandal was unfolding in the public eye.
"I was sitting with a group of friends and I knew any second everybody was going to know too, if they didn't already, and I remember just freezing and feeling so ashamed — I went home and hid myself for probably three or four months," she recalled, going on to say that though she "didn't really 100 percent understand what just had happened" she immediately knew it was "wrong."
Loughlin and Mossimo were accused of paying college admissions scam ringleader Rick Singer $500,000 to falsely designate Olivia and her sister, Isabella Rose, 22, as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team. After denying any wrongdoing for more than a year, the couple pleaded guilty to fraud charges in May.
"I never went back [to school]," Olivia said on Red Table Talk. "I was too embarrassed. I shouldn't have been there in the first place, clearly, so there was no point in me trying to go back."
In the immediate aftermath, Olivia said she "wasn't angry" at her parents, primarily because she initially "didn't see the wrong" in the situation.
"I was like, 'Why is everybody complaining?'" she said. "That's embarrassing within itself, that I walked around my whole 20 years of life not realizing, 'You have insane privilege. You're like the poster child of white privilege. You had no idea.'"
The YouTuber said that her parents' imprisonment may ultimately be "a blessing."
"I know she's strong and it's a good reflection period," she said of mom Loughlin. "I know that it's a positive that she's in there right now, she gets to really rethink everything that happened, kind of figure out when she comes out what she wants to do, what she's learned through all of this and I think that hopefully will be a blessing in the end."
She also addressed a controversial YouTube video she made prior to the scandal, in which she told fans that she wanted the college experiences of "game days" and "partying." "I don't really care about school, as you guys all know," she said in the 2018 video, which led to fans accuse her of being "ungrateful" for her education.
"That sits with me and makes me cringe and it's embarrassing that I ever said those types of things — and not only said them but edited it, uploaded it and then saw the response to realize it was wrong," she said on Red Table Talk. "There was no malicious intent behind it. I was never trying to hurt anybody or say those things to brag about my life. I was oblivious. I sit here now and I'm like, 'How don't you realize stuff like that? That's embarrassing that that did fly over your head.'"
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In recent weeks, Olivia has spent time mentoring young, at-risk students in Los Angeles.
"It just kind of shifted my whole mentality," she said. "They all were so little but they were so grateful for that education ... I was watching all of them and I was thinking about my situation and that I took all of that for granted. I didn't think that I was lucky to have that, I just expected it because that's what I grew around. So it was a big shift in my head knowing, 'Okay, let's start recognizing where the wrongs are in that.'"
"I want to continue doing stuff and finding more things to do, but not just throw money at a problem," she continued. "I'm trying and I'm starting and I'm searching. I'm still learning and it's taken me a minute to do, but I also think I needed to have that understanding and that mindset switched to be genuine while I'm doing stuff. I think if I were to come on here a year ago, this would've been an entirely different conversation. I needed to learn, you know?"
Ultimately, the social media star said she and the rest of her family members have learned valuable lessons from the experience.
"Although it took a crazy experience for me and my family to realize it, I'm happy that we do know that'll never happen [again]," she said. "When I have kids, that'll never happen. I just hope people can see that."
"I want to move forward and I totally, totally understand if people aren't ready to jump on board with me, but I'm here because I want to leave it on the table," she added. "I don't want to keep dragging this throughout my life."