The FBI investigation, code-named “Operation Varsity Blues,” revealed that between the years 2011 and 2018, 33 wealthy parents paid close to $25 million in bribes to coaches as well as administrators at colleges across the country — ensuring their children got into the colleges of their choosing.
Two of the parents were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, among other charges, due to their fame, Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman and Full House’s Lori Loughlin.
One of Loughlin’s influencer daughters, Olivia, was a 19-year-old first-year student at the University of Southern California with a YouTube following of nearly 2 million and a few sponsorships to her name when the news broke.
Both Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, allegedly spent $500,000 to ensure Giannulli and her sister’s entry to USC.
After they both pleaded guilty in August, Loughlin has been sentenced to two months in prison, while her husband was sentenced to five.
And while the influencer has not returned to school since her parents were sentenced and neither has her sister, she continued to post selfies in the aftermath of the scandal which caused backlash.
In addition, she posted a few YouTube videos, where in one in particular, she complained about how she just wanted to “move on,” with her life in December of 2019.
And when she posted during the summer her support of Black Lives Matter, many people on Twitter were to quick to point out her privilege she had yet to acknowledge.
But Giannulli decided to make an appearance on Red Table Talk to do just that. The Facebook Watch show is famously known for Black celebrities to talk about their scandals and on occasion, apologize.
At the beginning of the episode, Jada Pinkett Smith along with her mother, Adrienne Banfield Norris, and her daughter, Willow, address if it is even responsible or necessary to excuse Giannulli from her part in it all.
Norris did not hold back when it came to her initial thoughts: “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 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. Her being here is the epitome of white privilege to me.”
In the 30-minute-long interview, Giannulli sits calmly and painstakingly still as she gets choice words handed to her.
“I remember thinking, How are people mad about this? A lot of kids in that bubble, their parents were donating to schools and doing stuff that, like, so many advantages. It’s not fair and it’s not right, but it was happening,” she said.
“This was normal. But I didn’t realize at the time that was privilege…I don’t want pity. I don’t deserve pity. I just want a second chance to be like, I recognize I messed up.
Giannulli then launches into own privilege and what she is doing to recognize it.
“What’s so important to me is to learn from the mistake,” Giannulli states. “I’m 21. I feel like I deserve a second chance to redeem myself.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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