Olivia Jade Giannulli, the daughter of “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, joined Jada Pinkett-Smith’s “Red Table Talk” Tuesday to discuss Operation Varsity Blues, the nationwide college admissions scandal that landed Loughlin in prison for two months for charges of bribery and federal mail fraud.
In her first public appearance addressing the issue since the story broke last October, Jade said, “this has been a very eye-opening situation for me, and although there’s been a lot of wrongdoing it’s helped me have a totally different outlook on a lot of situations.”
The 21-year-old YouTuber and beauty influencer dropped out of USC in 2019 during her freshman year when news broke that her parents paid criminal mastermind (and the scam’s architect) Rick Singer over $500,0000 to fudge test scores and gain her entry into the school — the same scandal that actress Felicity Huffman was a part of.
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Jade took a hiatus from public life after the incident but went back on Instagram in August. She told Pinkett-Smith and her “Red Table Talk” co-hosts, Willow Smith and Adrienne Banfield-Norris, that she had several discussions with her family about the matter before both her parents were sent on their brief prison stints.
“It’s been hard. I think for anybody no matter what the situation is, you don’t want to see your parents go to prison. But also I think it’s necessary for us to move on and move forward,” Jade said.
“What hasn’t been super public is that there’s no justifying or excusing what happened, because what happened was wrong,” Jade added. “I think every single person in my family can say, ‘that was messed up, that was a big mistake.'”
Loughlin was found guilty of the bribery and federal mail fraud charges and began a two-month prison sentence in October.
Banfield-Norris said initially she didn’t like that Jade chose the show to speak out — “I found it very ironic that she chose three Black women to reach out to for her redemption story. Here we are, white women coming to Black women for support, when we don’t get the same from them. It’s bothersome to me on so many levels; her being here is the epitome of white privilege.”
Jade spoke on that privilege a bit during the show — and added, “what’s so important to me is to learn from the mistake, not to be punished and never given a second chance. I feel like I deserve a second chance to show I’ve grown.”
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Jada Pinkett-Smith asked Jade if she’d been able to contact her parents while they were serving their sentences, and Jade said no, but said that’s likely because there is a quarantine phase because of COVID in place. “I’m super close with my parents, especially my mom, she’s like my best friend. It’s definitely been really hard… I’ve never gone that long without talking to them,” Jade said.
Jade also said that she was totally blindsided by her mother’s actions. She was on spring break, she said, when she got the call from a friend who asked, “Hey Liv, have you talked to your mom?” Jade quickly searched her mom’s name and saw the deluge of news.
“I was sitting with a friend and I knew any second everyone was going to know, too, if they didn’t already” Jade said. “I remember feeling so ashamed I just went home and hid myself for three or four months. And school was still in session, I was going back to school… although I didn’t 100% understand what was happening, when I was applying I wasn’t aware” of Loughlin’s bribes, Jade said.
Jade later dropped out of USC after her first term. She said she felt “I couldn’t go back there, it was wrong.” She gained entry to USC thanks to a fake resume furnished by Singer and copious bribes from her wealthy parents.
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Lori Loughlin’s prison sentence includes 100 hours of community service. Jade said she wants her mother to learn and grow from the experience.
“I know she’s strong, and I know it’s a good reflection period,” Jade said about her mother. “I’m trying to look at the positives in situations.”