Olivia Jade Tells All About Mom Lori Loughlin’s College Admissions Fiasco on ‘Red Table Talk’
Olivia Jade is out to prove that she knows the bribery scheme that got her into USC was wrong, and that she’s committed to making a change. Will the public buy it?
Olivia Jade knows that there’s some healing that needs to happen—so she’s taken herself to the Red Table.
On Tuesday, the beauty influencer appeared on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Watch program for her first interview since her parents, Full House alum Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were implicated in last year’s college admissions scandal.
“There is no justifying or excusing what happened,” Olivia Jade said. “Because what happened is wrong, and I think every single person in my family can [say], ‘That was messed up; that was a big mistake.’ But I think what’s so important to me is to learn from the mistake—not to now be shamed and punished and never given a second chance. Because I’m 21; I feel like I deserve a second chance to redeem myself to show that I’ve grown.”
The bribery scheme, the result of an investigation called “Operation Varsity Blues,” ensnared both Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, along with other wealthy parents found to have bribed and lied to top-tier universities in order to secure their progeny’s admission. Loughlin and Giannulli are said to have paid William "Rick" Singer, the purported counselor who masterminded the scheme, $500,o000 to get their child into USC. (See her doctored resume here.) On Red Table Talk, Olivia Jade framed her parents’ actions as a mistake—insisting that they’d been misled by Singer.
“I think there was a college counselor involved who seemed legitimate, and who ended up not being legitimate, and in that community, it was not out of the ordinary. And it’s embarrassing to say that I didn’t know.” The influencer also said multiple times that she was not fully aware of the fraud that went into her application.
But not everyone at the table was thrilled to have this conversation. Pinkett Smith’s mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones—AKA “Gammy”—pointed out that at a time when so many racial injustices have finally been brought to the fore of public conversation, “when you come to the table with something like this, it’s like, ‘Child, please.’”
Nonetheless, the discussion was largely empathetic and gentle with the young beauty influencer, who spent her half-hour on the show emphasizing that she’s learned the extent of her privilege as a wealthy white woman with famous parents—and insisted that she’s committed to helping make a difference. She readily admitted to being the “poster child for white privilege,” and admitted that it wasn’t until this scandal broke that she understood what that meant.
“I remember thinking, ‘How are people mad about this?’” she said. “I know that sounds so silly, but in the bubble that I grew up in, I didn’t know so much outside of it.”
Both Loughlin and Giannulli have reported to prison (to serve two-month and five-month terms, respectively), and their daughter says she has not heard from them yet. Still, Olivia Jade said she’s trying to look on the bright side of things. “I know it’s a good reflection period,” she said. “I know that it’s a positive that [Loughlin] is in there right now because she gets to really rethink everything that happened—kind of figure out, you know, when she comes out, what she wants to do with what she’s learned through all of this. And I think that hopefully will be a blessing in the end.”
Olivia Jade also recalled finding out about the scandal while on spring break—and feeling too embarrassed to return to school at the University of Southern California afterward. “I was sitting with a group of friends, and I knew any second everybody was gonna know too, if they didn’t already,” she said. “I remember just freezing and feeling so ashamed. I went home and hid myself for probably three or four months... I shouldn’t have been [at USC] in the first place, clearly, so there was no point in trying to go back.”
“I’m not trying to victimize myself,” the influencer added later. “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.’”
Now Olivia Jade says she’s begun volunteering with young children at an afterschool program and is looking for more ways to get involved in such causes—rather than just “throwing money” at the problem.
“I want to invest myself,” she said, “so that I can start to understand.”