Tyra Banks defended Olivia Jade Giannulli joining the cast of Dancing With the Stars following the nationwide college admissions scandal involving her parents, Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli

The new host of the ABC competition series, 47, praised Olivia for being “so brave” and said the YouTuber, 21, is courageous for putting herself out there. 

Olivia Jade Giannulli Donates Bail Money
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“I think people don’t know her, they know what happened to her,” Tyra told Entertainment Tonight in a candid new interview on Wednesday, September 15. “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.” 

“[Olivia] is having to deal with [the criticism], and I think she’s coming to Dancing With the Stars to be able to tell her story and show her vulnerability,” the longtime America’s Next Top Model host continued. 

Olivia’s parents were previously arrested in March 2019 for their suspected involvement in the bribery scheme, having been accused of paying $500,000 to secure admission for their daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella, 22, into the University of Southern California (USC). The Full House alum, 57, and the fashion designer, 58, initially pleaded not guilty. 

Later, in May 2020, Lori pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, and Mossimo pleaded guilty to the same charge, as well as honest services wire and mail fraud. Throughout the case and trial, both of their daughters denied any involvement in the scheme. 

Tyra Banks Defends Olivia Jade Giannulli's 'DWTS' Casting: 'So Brave
ABC (2)

By December 2020, Lori officially completed her two-month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, California. Mossimo, for his part, finished his time behind bars at the Federal Correctional Institution in Lompoc, California, early in April while serving his five-month sentence. In Touch confirmed that he has since completed his required stay in home confinement.

With season 30 of DWTS right around the corner, Olivia is preparing to take the stage, and for that, Tyra commends her. 

“And is she a celebrity? Not traditionally, but what is a celebrity today?” Tyra said in her defense. “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.” 

Dancing With the Stars season 30 debuts on ABC Monday, September 20, at 8 p.m. ET.

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