In 2019 more than 50 people were charged with participating in a college admissions scandal led by William Singer. This scandal assisted [very rich] kids with getting into elite colleges through bribery, money laundering and document fabrication. Insider reviews the court documents which exposed the bribing of college athletic coaches to recruit students, regardless of their athletic abilities. Alongside that, was information about entrance exams being cheated on as well. The college rep professional pleaded guilty and the Department of Justice press release shared “Parents paid Singer approximately $25 million to bribe coaches and university administrators to designate their children as purported athletic recruits, thereby facilitating the children’s’ admission to those universities.” Wealthy people such as celebrities and CEO’s of both public and private companies were charged. The spotlight being directed on Lori Laughlin or as most of us know her, Becky Katsopolis. And now her oldest daughter, Olivia Jade, has come forward to confront the truth behind the scandal, share what she has learned, and has also returned to creating content on YouTube.
Let’s Talk Details
Laughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, paid $500,000 to get both of their daughters into college. Olivia’s popularity from her successful YouTube channel put her at the center of the scandal. She was accepted into the University of Southern California as a fabricated athlete. She was identified as a coxswain for the L.A. Marina Club which is actually non-existent [along with the truth. Hmmm.] However, during the application process she was sold to the school as an asset to their rowing team and got accepted. Mossimo even went as far as posing Olivia and her sister on rowing machines which were later released, being the tipping point for him and Lori to plead guilty.
None of the children who benefited from the scandal were charged with a crime, Olivia Jade included. However, Laughlin was sentenced to two months in prison, 100 hours of community service and fined $150,000. Her husband on the other hand was sentenced to five months in prison, 250 hours of community service and fined $250,000. Life for Olivia didn’t just snap back to what it once was though. She left the university entirely, stopped posting on her YouTube channel, and silenced herself for a year. Her first public appearance to address the scandal was on Red Table Talk, December 8th, 2020.
Why The Red Table?
Before Olivia approached the table Adrienne Banfield Norris (Gammy) started off the conversation by saying “I fought it to the nail. I just found it really ironic that [uhm] she chose three black women to reach out to for her redemption story. I feel like here we are, white women 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.” And while her daughter, Jada Pinkett-Smith assured her with the fact that there will be plenty of people who agree, she defended the decision of having her on the show.
The Girls Trip actress responded “I understand where you’re coming from but let’s be clear; I never want to be the thing that was done to me by white women. I never want to be that. I also believe that these are the kind of attitudes that feed the same thing that we’re fighting. It’s like people look at us. They say, ‘you’re black and you’re female,’ they automatically put us in a category. So looking at her as being white, young and privileged and then putting her in a category; it’s the same thing. So I just see it as… this cycle.” Pinkett-Smith continued on to describe what they’re doing as a “practice of compassion.”
The duo carried on the conversation with their youngest bloodline, Willow Smith, by relating to how children sometimes endure agony in the consequences of their parents actions. Jada specifically put herself in the shoes of Laughlin by saying “As a parent I’ve been in that position with me thinking ‘I know what’s best for my kids.’ And then they suffer the consequence of it.” And when Gam claims that “at the end of the day, she’s gonna be okay,” Jada came in to level out the conversation one more time. The mother of two said “Just because you have privilege, it doesn’t exempt you.” She continued to get personal, talking about her daughter’s history with self harm after “suffering in silence” and feeling like “she didn’t have a right to be hurt”. Pinkett-Smith opened up about the negative efforts by others to give compassion because of the assumption that things will turn out “fine” given their [great] financial status. She shared that it was both painful and not true. Therefore, she felt that Olivia deserved a space where that wouldn’t be done to her.
“It’s Led Me to Have A Completely Different Outlook”
So you’re probably wondering, “What about Olivia? What’s her reason for choosing The Red Table?” because if it wasn’t already clear, she chose them for this interview. They didn’t choose her. Well, they didn’t initiate it at least.
Jada started the conversation with the question we just became curious about, “What made you want to come to the table?” Olivia responded “I think that this has been, like, a really eye opening experience for me and situation. And I know there’s a lot of negatives around it and there’s a lot of mistakes and wrong doings. It’s led me to have a completely different outlook on a lot of situations. I also felt like I wanted to be somewhere where I didn’t feel like, attacked and maybe I could feel more understood. I’ve 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’re all gonna lay it out here and it’s gonna be an open conversation which is really important to me as well.”
The YouTube personality puts her energy into explaining that “there’s no justifying or excusing what happened.” She keeps it plain and simple when admitting that her, along with the rest of her family, understand that what was done was objectively wrong. However, she amplifies on the importance of learning from the mistake rather than dwelling on it and how she deserves to earn a second chance at respect from others. And when Jada brings up the high possibility of many assuming that she will be “fine” given her being a “beautiful, young white woman who’s been born into privilege,” Olivia didn’t miss a beat with her response. She expressed “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 continued on to say “a huge part about having privilege is not knowing you have privilege.” The young make-up artist became even more transparent, admitting to the situation not feeling wrong in the midst of it happening.
Although it took Olivia time to understand the reason behind people’s anger, she did eventually notice the truth in people’s responses to the situation. She learned that her lifestyle and mindset was not just a result of her parents’ hard work and success but it was also a result of privilege. Gam comes in with “let me ask you if you have a clear understanding of what white privilege really is now?” Olivia responded “I understand that I, just based on my skin color I already had my foot in the door and I was already ahead of everybody else. I think 100% I can recognize that.”
“Going Forward I Want to Do Stuff To Change That”
Olivia vowed to be the change that she wants to see following her new knowledge, understandings and personal growth from this scandal. She shared a story about her experience volunteering at a school in the Watts area of Los Angeles calling it a “really cool experience” that “shifted” her mentally. She recognized the children’s appreciation for their education, something that she always took for granted. She goes on to say “I want to work with something and feel good, and I want to give back and put time into it too.” Giannulli went with saying “I’m just at the beginning and I want to continue doing stuff and find more things to do but not just throw money at a problem.I want to invest myself so I can start to understand.” She emphasized on how the importance of needing to have gone through this 180 degree switch in her head in order to take these actions with a genuine heart.
Olivia Returned to YouTube. Will Viewers Notice A Difference?
On January 21st, Olivia Jade uploaded her first YouTube video in about a year. While some of you might be rolling your eyes at that, for her it was a big deal. With YouTube being her passion, being away from the camera, the editing and the uploading took a piece of who she knew herself to be. However, now she’s back and we can’t help but wonder if she will be Olivia Jade pre-scandal or Olivia Jade post scandal. What will her videos consist of? Will they include the efforts that she spoke of in hope to bring positive change?
Her returning video was a daily vlog where she spoke briefly about the Red Table Talk in the beginning. In hopes of moving forward from the scandal, she didn’t get into the details again. Instead she [kindly] advised that viewers watched the interview.
Giannulli’s most recent video is an “everyday” routine. The video features herself in her bathroom explaining and doing her daily makeup routine despite her lack of make-up use due to COVID-19.
So far, she has yet to use her platform in her videos to make little everyday changes based on her new awareness. In fairness, with the pandemic still being in play, getting out and being active can be tough. However, viewers in the comment section have recognized her failure to talk about charities she’s donating to and physical efforts that she’s putting in off camera.
Maybe Olivia will come back with a makeup tutorial using only black owned products, or a shopping haul from black owned businesses. Maybe she will continue to move forward with nothing else reportedly done at all. Stay tuned!