Olivia Jade Giannulli Says 'DWTS' Is a 'Second Chance' for Her: 'I Hope to Grow as an Individual'

Olivia Jade Giannulli’s casting on Dancing with the Stars comes about two and a half years after the college admissions scandal that led to her parents’ jail sentences 

Olivia Jade Giannulli is hoping to turn over a new leaf with her appearance on Dancing with the Stars.

The 21-year-old influencer was announced as one of the celebrity cast members on the upcoming 30th season of the hit competition show Wednesday.

Olivia later told reporters at a press event that she's taking the gig as an opportunity to "grow" as a person, about two and half years after the college admissions scandal that implicated her parents, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, unfolded.

"I hope people just really genuinely know how excited and grateful I am," Olivia said. "I think about a few weeks ago, and knowing that this was very far-fetched and not really in the cards. I'm super thankful for a second chance."

"I'm ready to put myself back out there and try new things," she added. "I'm really excited to challenge myself and put myself out of my comfort zone, which I don't do often."

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Olivia Jade Giannulli. John Salangsang/REX/Shutterstock

News of Olivia's casting sparked backlash among some on social media given her family's past, with one Twitter user calling the decision the "textbook definition of white privilege."

"Who approved for olivia jade to be on dwts i wanna know now," another wrote.

While speaking to reporters, the YouTuber noted that she debated whether to join the DWTS cast because of how "vulnerable" it required her to be.

"Obviously in any situation, it's scary to be vulnerable and show a personal side to yourself because they really do get to see behind the scenes, but I'm honestly just grateful for this opportunity," she said.

Ultimately, Olivia noted that she hopes to work on her dancing skills as well as herself in general. "I hope to grow as an individual throughout this process," she said.

Olivia Jade family
Olivia Jade Giannulli, Lori Loughlin, Mossimo Giannulli and Isabella Rose Giannulli. Olivia Jade/Instagram

Loughlin, 57, and Giannulli, 58, were both sentenced to prison last year after pleading guilty to the charges against them related to the scandal.

According to the criminal complaint against them, the couple paid $500,000 to Rick Singer and Key Worldwide Foundation to falsely designate their daughters, Olivia and her sister Isabella Rose Giannulli, as recruits to the University of Southern California crew team, even though neither ever participated in the sport.

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On Aug. 21, 2020, a judge approved the couple's plea deal, sentencing Loughlin to two months in jail, a $150,000 fine, and 150 hours of community service, while Giannulli received five months in jail, a $250,000 fine, and 250 hours of community service.

Loughlin started her prison sentence in October and served nearly two months before she was released from the federal correctional facility in Dublin, California, in December. Giannulli, meanwhile, was booked into federal prison on Nov. 19 and was released from home confinement in May, marking the end of his five-month sentence.

Olivia broke her silence on the scandal for the first time in December, during an appearance on Facebook Watch's Red Table Talk with hosts Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris.

"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 at the time. "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."

Season 30 of Dancing with the Stars premieres Monday, Sept. 20, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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