Tyra Banks is defending Olivia Jade Giannulli, the daughter of Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli, for joining the cast of Dancing With the Stars for the show's upcoming milestone 30th season. While Olivia Jade, 22, may be more known for her family's college admissions scandal, the show's host doesn't appear to be worried about that.
"I think Olivia is so brave. I think people don't know her, they know what happened to her," Banks told Entertainment Tonight this week. "She has said that she did not know about what was going on and it's really sad, and it's very hurtful when something publicly happens but you had nothing to do with it. So I trust that she says she didn't know."
"She is having to deal with that and I think she's coming to Dancing With the Stars to be able to tell her story and show her vulnerability," Banks continued. "And is she a celebrity? Not traditionally, but what is a celebrity today? If that's the case then there's no Instagram influencer that is a celebrity. We are in a whole different world and celebrity has taken a turn and a change."
Olivia Jade's parents both ended up in jail last year due to their involvement in the widespread college admissions scandal of 2019. Loughlin and Giannulli were convicted of paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters, Olivia Jade and Isabella, admitted to the University of Southern California as recruits for the school's crew team, despite neither of them having ever participated in the sport. The Full House actress and fashion designer couple initially pleaded not guilty to all charges against them, claiming their payments were donations to the school and not bribes.
Olivia Jade, 21, has claimed that she knew nothing of her parents' actions, telling ET that she hoped going on the show would allow her to show "a different side of me." "I just want to make it very clear that it is important to learn from the past and I am a big believer in second chances," she said. "I am still young and I am still trying to figure it out and I hope that I just continue to grow every day. And I think because this process is so challenging, you learn so much about yourself, which I am excited for. [I'm] putting myself outside of my comfort zone."
Olivia Jade is set to compete against the likes of Jimmie Allen, Melanie C, Christine Chiu, Brian Austin Green, Melora Hardin, Matt James, Amanda Kloots, Martin Kove, Suni Lee, Mike "The Miz" Mizanin, Kenya Moore, Cody Rigsby, Iman Shumpert and JoJo Siwa. Season 30 of Dancing With the Stars kicks off Monday, Sept. 20 on ABC.