Olivia Jade Broke Her Silence About the College Admissions Scandal: “I’m Ashamed”
She appeared on Jada Pinkett Smith and Adrienne Norris's "Red Table Talk"—which Norris "fought tooth and nail."
Lori Loughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli are currently serving jail time for their participation in the 2019 college admissions scandal in which they paid huge sums of money to get their daughters Isabella Rose and Olivia Jade Giannulli into the University of Southern California with fraudulent paperwork. Now, Olivia Jade is breaking her silence on her family’s wrongdoing, speaking to the women of Facebook Watch’s “Red Table Talk,” Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne Norris, and Willow Smith, about what she’s learned in the year since the case broke.
“What hasn’t been super public is that there is no justifying or excusing what happened because what happened is wrong,” Olivia Jade said at the top of the conversation, later saying, “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. And for so long I wasn’t able to talk about this because of the legalities behind it. I never got to say, ‘I’m really sorry that this happened.'”
Olivia Jade said she feels “embarrassed and ashamed” about her both her parents’ and her own participation in the scandal, which led to her dropping out of USC shortly after her mother’s arrest. “I shouldn’t have been there in the first place, clearly, so there was no point in me trying to go back,” she said, adding that she believes her mother serving jail time is a positive thing because she’s getting plenty of time to reflect on what she did.
She continued, I really felt most moved by the fact that we did all of this and we’re so ignorant and I feel like a huge part of having privilege is not knowing you have privilege. So when it was happening, it didn’t feel wrong…I never had to look outside of [my] bubble.
Olivia Jade said that when she first saw the backlash from her parents’ involvement in the scandal, she couldn’t understand why it was wrong. Everyone within her bubble had parents who were making donations to colleges, so why was her family’s scenario different? “I didn’t realize at the time that’s privilege,” she said, calling out her YouTube video in which she said she “doesn’t really care about school,” and was going just to get the experience of partying.
“The fact that [I] even could say those things shows how fortunate [I was]…[I knew I was] going to be okay without it,” she said, recognizing that she also came to terms with her white privilege as well as her financial privilege. “Just based off my skin color, I already had my foot in the door and I was already ahead of everybody else.”
Though Olivia Jade has seemingly shifted her mindset and is growing from this experience, Norris expressed to her that she and the many within the Black community don’t have the energy to care about Olivia Jade and her conflict, even arguing with Pinkett Smith at the top of the episode about why they—three Black women—are giving Olivia Jade the platform to speak when they are the exact demographic her actions hurt the most.
I just found it really ironic that she chose three Black women to reach out to for her redemption story, Norris said. [Olivia Jade] being here is the epitome of white privilege to me.
“At the end of the day, you’re going to be okay because your parents are going to go in and they’re going to do their 60 days, and they’re going to pay their fine, and you guys will…go on and live your life,” Norris told Olivia Jade. “And there’s so many of us that it’s not going to be that situation.”
“I just want to apologize for contributing to these social inequalities,” Olivia Jade said later in the episode, stating that she’s now fully aware of how she hurt so many people on various different levels. She’s now committed to using her “blessings” to help others and look at the bigger picture from here on out.