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More than a year after her parents Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli made headlines for their participation in a college admissions bribery scheme, Olivia Jade Giannulli has broken her silence in a new interview.
Giannulli, who goes by the name Olivia Jade, appeared on a recent episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s “Red Table Talk,” where she described her parent’s actions as a “big mistake.” Loughlin and Giannulli were indicted last year for paying $500,000 to William “Rick” Singer to have their daughters admitted into the University of Southern California as crew team recruits even though neither played sports. The couple were among dozens of wealthy parents who were charged as part of a federal bust exposing widespread bribery.
During this week’s episode, Giannulli explained that when the news first broke, she didn’t fully understand what was going on; she viewed what her family had done as normal because the parents of her peers were also doing the same or similar things — donating money to universities — and she didn’t recognize it as a privilege.
"I didn’t see the wrong in it. Like, 100 percent honesty, when it first happened, I didn't look at it and say, 'Oh my God, like, how dare we do this?' I was like, 'Why is everybody complaining? I’m confused what we did.' And that's embarrassing to admit," she said. “That’s embarrassing in 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.”
She also said during the interview that she has since grown to understand white privilege and societal inequality more, and that her parents also see the wrong in what they did.
"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 but I think what's so important to me is like, to learn from the mistake. Not to 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 I've grown,” she said.
Giannulli also revealed during the interview that she hasn’t spoken to her parents since their incarceration due to COVID-19 restrictions. She went on to say that the lack of communication has been hard for her because she’s always been close to her parents, especially her mother. However, she went on to say that she considers it a good thing that her mother is in prison so that she has time to reflect.
"It's definitely been really hard not being able to talk to her. But I know she's strong, and I know it's a good reflection period,” she said, adding later, “And I know that it's a positive, that she's in there right now. She gets to really rethink everything that happened."
Pinkett Smith co-hosts “Red Table Talk” with her daughter Willow Smith and her mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, the latter of whom shared on the show that she didn't agree with having Giannulli as a guest, stating that she “fought it tooth and nail” and describing the interview as “the epitome of white privilege.”
"I just found it really ironic that she chose three Black women to reach out to for her redemption story," she said. "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 bothersome to me on so many levels."
Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli are both currently serving prison time for their crimes. The pair pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud, with Giannulli pleading guilty to an additional charge of honest services wire and mail fraud. Giannulli was sentenced to five months in prison, while Loughlin was given a two-month sentence.
Loughlin began serving her sentence on Oct 30. Giannulli reported to prison on Nov. 19. Both were quarantined upon their arrival, in accordance with new COVID-19 procedures.
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