Inside Lori Loughlin’s College Admission Scandal and Her Daughter’s Controversial Lifestyle Empire

Have no idea who Olivia Jade is? Text any Gen-Z contact in your phone and you’ll quickly get an “OMG, I’m obsessed with her!” response.

For the millennials and up though, you’ll probably get a better idea of who Olivia Jade is when she discover she is Lori Loughlin‘s daughter. Yes, Aunt Becky from Full House has a teenage daughter, one that is a successful YouTube star with a blossoming beauty empire.

But that surprisingly stacked empire and Loughlin’s reputation are now shrouded in scandal after the Hallmark Channel leading lady and her husband, fashion mogul Mossimo Giannulli, are at the center of an alleged college entrance exam controversy—called Operation Varsity Blues by the FBI—that sent shock waves through Hollywood on Tuesday. 

Over 40 individuals were charged in connection with the alleged scheme, but it was Loughlin and Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman (who is married to ShamelessWilliam H. Macy) whose famous names made the headlines for their roles in the FBI investigation’s findings.  

Court documents obtained by E! News show that both Huffman and Loughlin have been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud to get their children into college

“The Guannullis agreed to a pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team—despite the fact that they did not participate in crew—thereby facilitating their admission to USC,” the bombshell affidavit noted. 

Phillip Faraone/WireImage

Later that morning, Huffman and Giannulli were taken into custody in Los Angeles, while a warrant is out for Loughlin’s arrest (she is currently out of the country.) 

Olivia Jade along with her older sister Isabella Rose are both currently students at the University of Southern California, and it remains to be seen what will happen to them and the rest of the students whose parents were charged. 

“As for charges against them, we’re still considering that. It’s not an accident that there are no students charged in these charging documents,” Andrew Lelling, a US Attorney in the District of Massuchussetts, said during a press conference on Tuesday. “The parents, the other defendants, are clearly the prime movers of this fraud. It remains to be seen whether we charge any of the students.”

Lelling went on to say there was another factor when it came to the current students’ futures: “What is the reaction of the school’s they go to? We leave that to the schools.”

After the news of the scandal broke, USC issued a statement saying the university will “continue to cooperate fully” with the ongoing investigation. 

“USC is conducting an internal investigation and will take employment actions as appropriate,” the statement read. “USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme.”

Olivia Jade Giannulli

Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images for Sephora Collection

Loughlin’s youngest child began her college experience this past September, but Olivia Jade is far from your average freshman.

Olivia Jade has almost 2 million subscribers on YouTube, 1.3 million followers on Instagram, her own app, multiple endorsement deals and a lifestyle brand that is now being called into question in the wake of the college controversy. 

Olivia, now 19, first launched her YouTube channel in August 2014, when she was 13, and within the first year she had 500,000 subscribers, thanks to her make-up tutorials.

“I remember I didn’t want to tell anyone I was doing YouTube, I was so embarrassed,” she said of first launching her channel. 

But by 2016, her videos were getting over 2 million viewers, making her one of the platform’s biggest stars. “I’m not saying a following made me more confident, but it just made me feel a little better. Like, people are actually watching what I’m doing.”

While she has focused a lot on beauty in the past, she also now also covers fashion, family, fitness, and just documenting her everyday life. 

“I started getting older, I found YouTube, I started looking at makeup tutorials and the rest is history,” Olivia told People in 2017 of her rise as an influencer. “But my page isn’t just beauty, it’s also lifestyle…I’m still in high school, so I’m just trying to be a relatable teenager.”

Olivia Jade

Presley Ann/Getty Images for Oh Polly

And what’s more relatable than choosing to go to college after graduating high school, even when you are a successful content creator? Olivia vlogged throughout her last day of high school and her graduation day. 

But before her first day in the dorms at USC, Olivia experienced a bit of controversy when she talked about her upcoming college experience in one of her vlogs, with many viewers calling her comments entitled. 

“I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend,” she said in her initial video, referring to her busy schedule. “But I’m gonna go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope that I can try and balance it all. But I do want the experience of like game days, partying…I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

After receiving some backlash, she soon posted a follow-up video to apologize for her “ignorant” comments, calling it a “privilege” to be able to attend college. 

 “I said something super ignorant and stupid, basically. And it totally came across that I’m ungrateful for college—I’m going to a really nice school. And it just kind of made it seem like I don’t care, I just want to brush it off,” she explained. “I’m just gonna be successful at YouTube and not have to worry about school. I watch it back and…I’m really disappointed in myself.”

She continued, “I’m not trying to come out here and defend myself or anything, I just genuinely want to say I’m sorry to anyone I offended by saying that.”

Daily Pop Celebrity Guests, Lori Loughlin

Mara Soldinger, E! News

“A lot of people like to attack me for the way I’ve grown up because it’s really different from a lot of people, and so anything I say that’s even remotely ignorant or bratty or something that I genuinely don’t mean it gets so much backlash,” she said. “I feel really, really bad that I say stuff like that because I don’t mean to sound that way.” 

In an Q&A posted to her channel in February 2018, Olivia was asked what it’s like growing up with two famous parents. 

“I never think anything of it, I know I always say that, but it’s the truth,” she said, before going on to admit she dealt with trust issues when it came to new friendships when she was younger.

“I remember when I was six, seven, eight years old I would always think, ‘Oh, do they want to be my friend for me or my mom and my dad,'” she said. “I think that’s probably not normal thoughts a six-year-old, seven-year-old, eight-year-old child would have, but it’s definitely something.”

Still, Olivia was heading off to college with an open mind, as she told Teen Vogue, “I’m most excited to meet new people and change up my content on YouTube to do more college-themed videos!”

In February 2019, Olivia took to Twitter to give an update of sorts on her time management and balancing her burgeoning career with schoolwork, writing YouTube will “always” be her main passion.

And just earlier this month, Olivia sat down for an interview with The Zach Sang Show to talk about her decision to go to college just as her vlogging career is taking off. 

“Mostly my parents really wanted me to go because both of them didn’t go to college,” she explained. “I’m so happy they made me go. That sounds so terrible. They didn’t make me. My sister [Bella] goes to the same school and we’re pretty much inseparable. So it was nice following in her footsteps a little bit.”

Bella has appeared in several of her mother’s Hallmark Channel movies over the years, and wants to pursue acting as her full-time career. But Loughlin wanted the 20-year-old to get a college education. 

“Well, she is in school and I’m glad. She just finished her first year of college and she really enjoys it and I think she’ll get her degree,” she told Salon in August 2018. “And I just said to her, ‘Look, have some back up plan. Get a degree and something else. You can study theater [and] whatever you need to also at school.’ I think I’ve shown her and presented all the pitfalls that there might be. I would be a hypocrite at this point to say no, you can’t do it, because I’m doing it. She sees me and I’m making a living. And then there’s a part of me that goes yes, it’s a hard business, but why not her?”

Aside from having a back-up plan, Olivia, like any good influencer, also saw the value and opportunity in turning her college experience into content, explaining, “It’s also cool to create content from a whole different side of things, like in school.” 

She continued, “It’s the coolest thing getting DMs from girls, like, ‘I’m applying to college right now, what did you do?!’ All this stuff, it’s fun.”

While she tweeted about her time management struggles when it came to YouTube vs. college, she said of her schoolwork, “I don’t think it gets in the way.” 

And Olivia has proven that, managing to continue growing her brand while at USC. 

In December 2018, Olivia announced she was partnering with Sephora (after serving as one of their ambassadors for three years) to release a highlight palette through their Sephora Collection line.

“A dream I never thought would be my reality. This is so surreal for me and my 14 year old self,” she wrote on Instagram. “A huge thank you to #SephoraCollection for believing in me and allowing me to create a beautiful highlight palette. And to all my followers… thank you doesn’t even do it justice for how grateful I am. I love you forever.”

Of course, she also posted a video on YouTube about the collection, getting emotional and crying over seeing her palette for the first time. “I have chills all over my f–king arms!”

Olivia has previously said her goal is to have her own makeup line, but doesn’t see herself as the next celeb makeup rival to Kylie Jenner‘s billion dollar Kylie Cosmetics empire.

“I wouldn’t probably look at it as a competition just because whatever I do I think I would go in a totally different direction,” she said on the Zach Sang Show,” …just following more of a natural path. I don’t think I would ever create something I wouldn’t personally wear unless it had a huge demand, at least when it first comes out. I probably wouldn’t look it as a competition, but there’s tons of brands and products out there, so…”

Before the Sephora Collection palette, Olivia also partnered with Princess Polly for a clothing collection named after her. 

“HOLY SH*T. I’m so overwhelmed by the response to the news of my collection w Princess Polly. Thank you so much for the love,” she tweeted after the announcement. “I can’t wait for u guys to see the full range – I die inside a lil bit every time I look at it. I love u thank u thank u thank u.” 

On social media, Olivia has also had paid sponsorship deals with Clinique, Tresemme, Lulus, Conair, Boohoo and Smile Direct, among other brands. 

Another major paid partnership was with Amazon, which helped furnish her dorm room (securing a permanent spot on her main Instagram feed), with Teen Vogue eventually doing a tour of her space.

“I found pretty much everything for my dorm on Amazon’s college store—it was easy to find it all in one place and there were so many options to choose from,” Olivia said. “I was also able to use my Prime Student membership and received all the items in two-days with free shipping. So the best part was that it was already waiting at my dorm for me when I got there.”

In an interview with Yahoo! in 2017, Olivia was asked where she’d like to see herself in 10 years.

“Wow 10 years . . . I’ll be 27. Ideally I would love to be happily married and have my own makeup or fashion line,” she said. “I definitely think I’ll still be on YouTube doing beauty videos if YouTube is still a thing! Oh, and I hope I’ve made it through college, haha!”

When it comes to what motivates her to continue building her empire when she comes from successful parents, including one of TV’s most beloved ’90s stars. 

“I don’t ever want to depend on someone else for my success,” Olivia said. “Like, I might come from a family that’s done well, but I don’t ever want that to guide me in a certain direction. I’ve used what I’ve come from to create content and I’ve figured out the things people like to see because of how I’ve grown up. But at the end of the day, I want to make my own money and support myself. I don’t ever want to have to ask someone if I can do something. I want to be able to have full control over what I’m doing with my life.” 

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