As if 2020 wasn’t cringey enough, earlier today influencer and infamous celebrity daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli invited herself on Red Table Talk to finally address the college admissions scandal that sent both her parents to jail.
ICYMI, Olivia Jade’s parents, Full House actress Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are currently serving prison sentences for their involvement in the 2019 college admissions scandal. Thus far, at least 53 people have been charged in the conspiracy to illegally sway undergraduate admission decisions at American universities.
Loughlin, who’s serving two months, and husband Giannulli, who’s serving five months, pled guilty to paying $500,000 to scam mastermind William “Rick” Singer to get their daughters, Olivia and Isabella, recruited onto the University of Southern California rowing team, despite having never participated in the sport.
After nearly a year of silence, Olivia Jade opened up about the experience on the internet talk show to Jada Pinkett Smith, her daughter Willow Smith, and her mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris AKA “Gammy.”
And the internet has some opinions.
Despite Olivia’s best efforts to reconcile her involvement in the crime, social media is rife with criticism over how the 21-year-old chose to handle her first public appearance.
Given America’s current political and social climate, many feel Olivia’s decision to share her story with women of colour was a strategic PR move to win brownie points with fans. This sentiment was mimicked by Gammy during the interview, who called it “ironic” and admitted she did not want Olivia on the show.
Olivia has a successful YouTube channel with over 1.8 million subscribers that she could have used to address the scandal.
The issue of race— particularly Olivia’s white privilege— was heavily debated both at the table as well as on Twitter.
“I understand that just based on my skin colour I already had my foot in the door and I was already ahead of everybody else,” Olivia told the women. However, Gammy didn’t let the YouTuber off the hook, saying Olivia’s mere appearance on the talk show is “the epitome of white privilege.”
“There is so much violent dehumanization that the Black community has to go through on a daily basis, right? There is so much devastation — particularly, this year, 2020, with the pandemic and everything…there’s so much inequality and inequity that when you come to The Table with something like this, it’s like, child, please,” the matriach said. “I am exhausted, I am exhausted with everything we have to deal with as a community and I just don’t have the energy to put into the fact that you lost your endorsements or you’re not in school right now. Because, at the end of the day, you’re going to be OK. Your parents are going to go in and do their 60 days, and they’re going to pay their fine, and you guys will go on and live your life. And there are so many of us that it’s not going to be that situation.”
During the interview, Olivia said she initially did not understand that what her parents did was wrong because they “worked really hard.”
Aside from rubbing people the wrong way, some have been quick to point out that Olivia and her sister actively engaged in the hoax as well. Most notably, the girls posed for fake rowing photos to include as part of their falsified applications.
Though Olivia admitted “what happened was wrong,” opinions are mixed on if the public should forgive the star.
Some are absolving Olivia of her role, claiming the onus should be on her parents because she was young, while others feel this argument is invalid as BIPOC children are not granted the same grace.
Overall, it seems most people felt Olivia was playing the victim during the interview.
Of course, there are a handful of users who feel Olivia’s interview was genuine and that everyone deserves a chance to learn from their mistakes. Some believe the public shouldn’t judge until Olivia’s had enough time to prove she’s grown.
Watch the full Red Table Talk interview here.