Olivia Jade and Sister Bella Defend Mom Lori Loughlin From College Admissions Scandal Backlash

For the first time, Olivia Jade and sister Bella Giannulli expressed support for mom Lori Loughlin with regard to how she was portrayed over her involvement in the 2019 college admissions scandal.

By Corinne Heller Nov 24, 2021 6:12 PMTags

Lori Loughlin's daughters will always have her back.

On a Nov. 21 episode of her podcast Conversations With Olivia Jade, beauty influencer Olivia Jade Giannulli, 22, chatted with her sister Isabella "Bella" Giannulli, 23, about the backlash over their mom and dad Mossimo Giannulli's indictments for their involvement in the 2019 college admissions scandal. For the first time, the siblings publicly expressed support for Lori who, along with Olivia, bore the brunt of the criticism due to her fame, and also lost work: The scandal prompted the actress to leave Fuller House and for the Hallmark Channel to cut ties with her.

"When everything was happening, like, when we were going through the whole thingy-thing with our family, the thingamajiggy, what were you feeling?" Olivia asked Bella, who responded, "I think just the hardest part of this entire thing was...reading and seeing how horrible the media was to both you and Mom, without actually knowing you guys, and knowing Mom has the biggest heart."

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In March 2019, Lori and Mossimo were indicted for allegedly paying $500,000 in bribes to have Olivia and Bella admitted to the University of Southern California (USC) as recruits to the crew team, even though they are not rowers. In late 2020, the actress spent less than two months behind bars for her involvement in the case. Earlier this year, her husband completed a five-month prison sentence, some of which was spent in home confinement.

"I'm not trying to justify or excuse behavior or throw a pity party," Olivia said. "I think, for me, even though I also was getting dragged negatively, it like, didn't nearly affect me as much as like, seeing Mom getting, first of all, having all of this thrown on her. And I think that we can talk about it. I think I want to talk about this. She really took this whole thing on her back, solely."

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

She continued, "When you see your mom who's raised you and who's been like, nothing but a good mom, like the most incredible mother in the world, and also just like, the kindest heart and like, knowing what you know and knowing how much we know about her and how well we know her, obviously, we both [came] directly out of her womb, so we know her pretty damn well. I think that was really hard for me. It was frustrating and it caused a lot of like, anger within me, when I would read stuff about her."

Following the indictments, the entire Giannulli family became a paparazzi target—Bella noted how at one point, at least three vehicles were waiting for them outside their house. In addition, Lori and Mossimo's daughters dropped out of USC, Olivia lost major partnerships with brands such as Sephora and Bella said her boyfriend broke up with her. She called it her first "real heartbreak."

"That was hard because on top of being heartbroken, I was dealing with whatever it was that was going on in our life," she said. "And it was so early on at that point."

The family has slowly overcome the scandal. Lori has already made her acting comeback: She filmed season two of When Hope Calls, a spin-off of the Hallmark Channel series When Calls the Heart, reprising her role of Abigail Stanton. The new season premieres on a different cable channel, GAC Family, on Dec. 18.

Olivia returned to YouTube, her main social media platform, in January—a month after she broke her silence about her parents' indictments on Jada Pinkett Smith's show Red Table Talk, during which the influencer apologized "for contributing to the social inequality" and dubbed herself a "poster child of white privilege." This fall, Olivia competed on Dancing With the Stars, placing eighth with partner Val Chmerkovskiy.

Bella has concentrated on screenwriting and is also taking acting classes. She told Olivia that the director of a stage play she's working on, who is also an actor, recalled to her a story about Lori being kind to him when he was a guest star on the original '80s and '90s sitcom Full House, on which Lori originated the fan-favorite character of Aunt Becky.

"He told me that he took what Mom taught him that day and emulates it on every single set he's on to make sure that whoever is there with him feels welcomed in that situation," she said. "I don't think one person who's ever worked with Mom can say something bad about her because she's genuinely the nicest person alive."

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