Not holding back! Olivia Jade Giannulli was grilled by Jada Pinkett Smith’s mom, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, during her first interview following her family’s involvement in the college admissions scandal.
Both of the influencer’s parents, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, are currently serving prison time after pleading guilty to fraud charges in May. The couple were arrested in March 2019 after being accused of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters into college, falsely claiming they were members of the crew team.
The Summerland alum, 56, is serving two months in prison at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California, while Mossimo, 57, began his five-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc, on November 19. They were also fined $400,000.
“I fought it tooth and nail. I just found it really ironic that she chose three Black women to reach out to for her redemption story,” she told her daughter, 49, and granddaughter, Willow Smith. “I feel like here we are, [a] white woman coming to Black women for support when we don’t get the same from them. Her being here is the epitome of white privilege to me.”
The Gotham actress noted that she understood her mom’s point of view but explained that “I never want to be the thing that was done to me by white women.”
As soon as Olivia Jade, 21, joined the trio, Banfield-Jones started asking her the tough questions.
“Let me ask you if you have a clear understanding of what white privilege really is, now,” Banfield-Jones said. “Do you have any understanding of why I would be upset at your being here and what you all did and the harm that it caused?”
Olivia Jade noted that she does understand white privilege and admitted that her parents’ involvement in the nationwide scandal was in part due to the fact that “we had the means to do something and we completely took it and ran with it. It really cannot be excused, on paper it’s bad.”
She apologized for her part in college admissions case, in which the Fuller House alum and the designer pulled strings to get both Olivia Jade and her sister Bella, 22, into the University of Southern California.
“I didn’t come on here to try and win people over. I just want to apologize for contributing to these social inequalities even though I didn’t realize it at the time,” Olivia Jade explained. “Being able to come here and recognize that I am aware.”
Banfield-Jones pointed out how the scandal effected the Black community, specifically, noting that it’s much bigger than the influencer and her Hollywood family.
“I think for me, it’s like there is so much violent dehumanization that the Black community has to go through on a daily basis. There is so much devastation, particularly this year, 2020, with the pandemic and everything brought to the table about how there is so much inequality and inequity, that when you come to the table with something like this, it’s like, ‘Child, please,’” she said.
Olivia Jade opened up about how her perception of privilege has changed since her parents’ trial and subsequent jailing, admitting that she was unaware of how lucky she was.
“I feel like a huge part of having privilege is not knowing you have privilege, and so when it was happening, it didn’t feel wrong,” the Marymount High School graduate shared. “I also felt very misunderstood. The picture that has been painted of me, I feel like, is not who I am. I’m not this bratty girl that doesn’t want to change anything. I understood that people were upset and angry, and maybe it took me a little bit longer to understand what for, but man, am I glad I did realize. I took my privilege and all my blessings for granted, and I never thought anything of it.”
The former nurse noted that Olivia Jade’s family will come out of this somewhat unscathed, while the Black community continues to struggle, which is not OK.
“I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted with everything 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 or you’re not in school right now,” Banfield-Jones said. “Because at the end of the day, you’re going to be OK. Because your parents are going to go in and they’re going to do their 60 days and they’re going to pay their fine, and you guys are going to go on and be OK and you will live your life. And there’s so many of us that it’s not going to be that situation. It just makes it very difficult right now for me to care in this atmosphere that we’re in right now.”
She continued: “A year from now I might feel differently, but right now in the atmosphere that the world is in it’s very difficult for me to feel compassion for you. And I shouldn’t say ‘about you’ because I don’t want you to take it that personally. It’s not really about you.”
After calling Olivia Jade out, Banfield-Jones said that she is “glad” that the starlet came on the show, because “what I am hearing from you is that there’s an interest and a desire to learn and figure out where you fit into the world and what your role is to make a difference.”
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