Olivia Jade Says She's the "Poster Child for White Privilege'' and More Revelations From Red Table Talk

Olivia Jade reflected on the lessons she's learned since parents Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli were arrested for their part in the college admissions scandal in 2019.

By Cydney Contreras Dec 08, 2020 5:00 PMTags

Olivia Jade Giannulli had a no holds barred conversation with Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield Norris about the college admissions scandal that sent her parents to prison.

Since Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli's arrests on March 12, 2019, the former YouTuber has largely maintained her silence, but with her parents finishing out their respective prison sentences, the 21-year-old is ready to address the controversy that upended her life. She joined the Smith women on Facebook Watch's Red Table Talk on Tuesday, Dec. 8, a choice that Adrienne was not too impressed by.

The Pinkett-Smith family matriarch made it clear that she "fought tooth and nail" against hosting Olivia, the influencer was using Red Table Talk to tell her "redemption story."

"I feel like here we are, a white woman coming to Black women for support, when we don't get the same from them. It's just bothersome to me on so many levels," Adrienne, known to fans as Gam-Gam, said. "Her being here is the epitome of white privilege."

But over the course of their conversation, Olivia spoke to Adrienne's concerns and more issues, including what she really knew about her parents' involvement in her and her sister's admissions to USC.  

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Lori Loughlin's Life in Pictures Since the College Admissions Scandal

For everything we learned from Olivia, continue reading below:

Rob Latour/Shutterstock

Olivia Jade Asked to Come and Sit at the Red Table:

According to Jada, it was Olivia first reached out with a request to join the red table, which caused tension between the show's hosts.

Adrienne was the most vocal about her opposition, calling it "really ironic that she chose three Black women to reach out to for her redemption story." 

But Jada said she felt a responsibility to offer Olivia Jade a chance to explain herself, as she knows what it's like to be written off because of her appearance. "Let me just be clear, I never want to be the thing that was done to me by white women—I never want to be there. Okay?" Jada explained. "I also believe that these are the kinds 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 is the same thing. So I just see it as this cycle."

Jada predicted they'd get "a lot of heat" for having Olivia Jade, but said it's an "act of compassion" that she's taking responsibility for, especially as a mother. She compared her life to Lori's, saying, "This young girl is reaping the repercussions of some actions of her parents. When I heard her story, it just reminded me of Jaden, Willow and Trey... As a parent, I'm like, 'Wow, 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."

She went on to say that financially and physically, Olivia Jade will continue on unharmed, but Jada recalled how Willow suffered from exposure to the spotlight. "Just because you have privilege, it doesn't exempt you. The fact that Willow for so long, suffered in silence and even turn to self harming herself, because she didn't feel like she had a right to be hurt." She continued, "People go, 'You kids are gonna be fine, because you're rich; we don't care.' And that's painful. And it's not true."

YouTube / Olivia Jade Giannuli

What Olivia Jade Knew About Her Parent's Involvement in the Scheme: 

With the trial now over, Olivia Jade spoke freely about the lengths her parents went to secure her and sister Bella Giannulli's college acceptance letters. In fact, Olivia admitted she "didn't really 100 percent understand what just had happened" when news of their arrests broke while she was vacationing on a yacht during spring break.

According to Olivia, it wasn't out of the ordinary for her peers' parents to donate to universities they hoped to attend. Olivia explained, "I know that sounds so silly but in the bubble that I grew up in, I didn't know so much outside of it. And a lot of kids in that bubble, their parents were donating to schools and doing stuff that advantaged them... It's not fair and it's not right. But it was happening, right? And so when this first came out, I was like, I don't really understand what's wrong with this."

Olivia also said she wasn't "fully aware" of what was happening when applying to the school, but described the process as "a lot." 

After her parents were taking into custody, however, Olivia said she chose not to return to the University of Southern California, saying, "I never went back. I was too embarrassed... I shouldn't have been there in the first place, clearly. So there was no point in me trying to go back."

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Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli's New $9.5 Million Home

How Life Has Changed For Olivia Jade—and How it Hasn't:

Olivia Jade acknowledged her privilege, insisting that despite how things may looks to outsiders, her views have shifted. She said, "The picture that has been painted of me, I feel like that's not who I am. I'm not this bratty girl who doesn't want to change anything."

She explained that it took reading about "the backlash" to understand why people were so angry over the scandal. And though it was "hurtful" to come to those realizations, she thinks it's "better late than never."

Recalling one heavily criticized YouTube video in which she said she only wanted to attend college to "party," Olivia said her remarks now make her "cringe" because it's a prime example of her "privilege." She shared, "It's embarrassing that I ever said those types of things—not only said them, but edited it, uploaded it and then saw the response and realized it was wrong."

She added, "I was oblivious."

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Adrienne then asked Olivia what she thinks privilege really means, to which Olivia replied, "I understand that I—just based off my skin color—I already had my foot in the door and I was already ahead of everybody."

As for how she'll act moving forward, Olivia is committed to giving back to the Los Angeles community. "I had a really cool experience a few weeks back where I went downtown in the Watts area and I got to work with some kids in this after school program and it kind of just shifted my whole mentality," she reflected. "Because when I was sitting with them and talking to them and they were they all were so little but they were grateful for that education that after school place that they could go away from their neighborhood to come and have a little freedom and focus on their schoolwork. And I was watching all of them and I was thinking about my situation and that I took all of that for granted."

She continued, "I didn't think that I was lucky to have that. I just expected it because that's what I grew up around."

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Additionally, Olivia said she's focused on her volunteer efforts, rather than "just throw money at a problem."

Olivia Jade Calls Herself the "Poster Child for White Privilege":

But Gam-Gam also talked to Olivia about the fact that her promises to do better won't actually make a difference in the day-to-day lives of minority communities.

"For me, it's like, 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 being brought to the table, just how there's so much inequality. [So] when you come to the table with something like this, it's like, child, please."

She continued, "I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted with everything that 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, right? Or you're not in school right now. Because at the end of the day, you're gonna be okay, because your parents are gonna go in and they're gonna do their 60 days, and they're gonna pay their fine. And you guys will go on and you'll be okay and you will live your life, right? And there's so many of us, that is not going to be that situation. It just makes it very difficult right now, for me to care in this atmosphere that we are in right now. 

Adrienne admitted that in a year she "might feel differently," but concluded, "Right now, in the atmosphere that the world is in, it's very difficult for me to feel compassionate about you."

Olivia acknowledged why Adrienne felt so strongly about this issue, explaining that she didn't come to the table to "try and win people over." In fact, Olivia said she came to talk with them in order to "apologize for contributing to the social inequality" without even realizing it.

She added, "That's embarrassing within itself that I walked around my whole 20 years of life not realizing like, you have insane privilege—you're like the poster child of white privilege and you had no idea."

Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

How Olivia Jade's Sister and Parents Are Handling the Fallout:

Olivia also claimed that her parents believed Rick Singer, the accused ringleader of the scheme, to be a "legitimate" college counselor. Olivia said her father wanted them to have the "best" life could offer, and his "attachment issues" to her and her sister impacted his desire to have them attend a local university.

She added, "I know they're good people and I know that I'm not going to judge them for a mistake they made. Although, it's a big one."

As for Bella, she said, "She's also learned a lot and she's kind of more laid back and relaxed so she's like a little bit, I think calmer than I am."

And at the top of the interview, Olivia said her family has stayed quiet about the scandal because they know there's no excuse for their actions, even if they had good intentions. She simply stated, "There is no justifying or excusing what happened because what happened was wrong. And I think every single person in my family can be like, that was messed up. That was a big mistake."

However, she added, "But I think what's so important to me is like to learn from the mistake. Not to now be shamed and punished and never given a second chance. I'm 21, I feel like I deserve a second chance to redeem myself, to show I've grown."

What's more is Olivia promised that when she has kids, a mistake this big will "never happen."

To revisit the college admissions scandal and its impact on Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, read our story here

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