During the height of the Operation Varsity Blues scandal, I thought Olivia Jade Giannulli was an idiot for not properly parlaying her “scandalous” college admission drama into reality stardom. Like, if Kris Jenner had been managing Olivia, Olivia would already be in the third season of her reality show, she would have successful makeup and sportswear lines and she would be invited to all of the cool parties. It’s not that Olivia was “wrong” to go away during the scandal, it’s just I’m so used to seeing people exploit their five minutes of fame. It was sort of a throwback to another era to see that Olivia was actually embarrassed about all of it. She gave her first interview to Red Table Talk and not 20/20, for goodness sake!
Anyway, it worked out in the long run. The thing about Olivia Jade is that she never needed “college” – as a high schooler, she was already expertly managing her influencer-brand. She was already making hundreds of thousands of dollars from Instagram spon-con and her YouTube channel. Now that the college-admissions scandal is a few years in the rearview, Olivia knows that people have short attention spans and she can go back to what she was doing before: influencing, being a YouTuber, spon-conning. Her appearance on Dancing with the Stars grew her audience and she’s now a full-on C-list celebrity.
DWTS relaunched her as an even bigger star than she was before: receiving high-profile party and fashion show invitations, not to mention being paid by a new group of brands who want her to promote their goods. This past weekend, Olivia, who has been romantically linked to “Euphoria” actor Jacob Elordi, was seen partying with celebs like Lizzo and Cardi B at Drake’s Saturday night pre-Super Bowl bash at the Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles. The night before, she was at Justin Bieber’s party at the same location, along with Leo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Kendall Jenner and Khloe Kardashian.
“‘DWTS’ was a chance for people to really see who Olivia is: a hard worker, dedicated, and just a young adult trying to find her way in the world. It was a chance to reconnect the public to what made her so likable and relevant on her YouTube channel,” said a source close to Olivia. “She’s been excited to get back to doing what she loves, which is all things beauty, fashion and connecting to followers. She’s attending more events, working with more brands — and she’s got some big deals in the works for 2022.”
Not only was Olivia — who has 1.82 million subscribers on her YouTube channel and 1.3 million followers on Instagram — seen all over Hollywood at the weekend at the hottest Super Bowl parties. She also received invitations for New York Fashion Week shows and parties, Page Six is told, but decided not to fly to the East Coast. (NYFW started Feb. 11 and ends Feb. 16). However, she did show up for the Jimmy Choo X Mugler event at Terminal 27 in West Hollywood last week.
Sephora and Amazon may have dropped her after Operation Varsity Blues, but her notoriety is not a hindrance for other brands. She’s been working with the denim line Garage, recently modeling its clothing on her Instagram account, alongside sneakers from Banana Bread Grails. She has also shared links to products using affiliate links (meaning she gets paid if her followers click through and buy) from the platform RewardStyle, and has appeared in sponsored content for the brands Revice Denim and White Fox Boutique.
“Olivia Jade knows her way around clickbait — she has an uncanny knack of generating noise. There is always a way back and … [some brands see that] she has the instinct and will to reengage the supporters,” global branding and public-relations expert Mark Borkowski told The Post. “Many have turned far worse recriminations into a positive asset. Scandal is not the career-ending nerve gas it once was. Having illustrious criminal parents could even become a positive asset in today’s climate, where everyone is looking for the most complex and fascinating backstory. I have learned as a celebrity publicist to say ‘never say never’ when it comes to things you would assume would leave someone too toxic to touch.”
I mean… good for her. I still think she’s a lying little con artist, but I’m glad she has her niche. Maybe she didn’t want to have a reality show, and maybe she always just wanted to be a YouTuber and sell beauty products and jeans. She stays in her lane, celebrity-wise. And I’m not surprised that Olivia is more accepted or palatable to Hollywood/fashion: there’s a belief that she wasn’t to blame, that her parents did everything, that Olivia had no knowledge. Most people weren’t following the case closely, and they don’t realize that Olivia and her sister were lucky to avoid federal charges too.
She’s really starting to look so much like her mom.
Photos courtesy of Backgrid, Avalon Red.