Olivia Rodrigo has been a Disney star since she was 12, but her chance at breaking out in a bigger way as a solo singer could easily have been derailed by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, she told GQ magazine in a new interview, what might have been a disaster was actually “awesome,” because suddenly there was a lack of pressure on her to make a huge splash as everyone huddled at home.
By now, however, you know she exploded anyway, with her 2021 mega-smash “Drivers License” and several follow-up hits. “If there was a concert and I could see that ‘Drivers License’ was being sung by thousands of people, I feel like I would’ve gotten in my head more than I did,” the singer/actress told the magazine.
Speaking of Disney, GQ asked Rodrigo to weigh in on former Mickey Mouse Club icon Britney Spears’ ongoing, contentious conservatorship battle and whether she’d taken any lessons from it to avoid any of the same potential pitfalls in her own career.
“The Britney stuff was just horrific, and I’ve been following it very closely,” she said. “I think it’s just so awful. I think, as an industry, people are getting better at not taking advantage of and manipulating and bullying young women. But it’s still so apparent, and I witness that too. Not near at the level that Britney has, obviously. I think that’s an important paradigm that I hope that we’ll be able to break in the coming generations.”
Rodrigo, who has also proudly worn the same “Dump Him” shirt that Britney sported back in the day, said she’s definitely seen corporate profits prioritized over an artist’s mental health. “That’s always been something that I’ve been really conscious of in my own career, and I’m really lucky I’m surrounded by people who are conscious of that and conscious of my mental health being the most important thing,” she said. “You can’t make art and have a good career if you’re not there.”
The interview took place at the pop star’s sparsely decorated new apartment, which features one very important piece of artwork on her bedroom wall: a framed, printed-out tweet about her written by Cardi B. “You doing sooo good for your age. Don’t let no toxic sh– get to you and don’t let nobody restrict you from your voice,” the rapper wrote about the 18 year-old pop star, who said she honestly “bawled” when she saw the kind note.
“I literally saw it and cried. I was like, ‘Thanks, Cardi. I’m not going to listen to bullsh–,’” Rodrigo said. As for those recent accusations of plagiarism from Courtney Love, who claimed that Rodrigo’s mascara-dripping prom queen promotional photos for her Sour Prom Concert Film borrowed too liberally from the cover of Hole’s 1994 album Live Through This, Olivia said she was “just flattered that Courtney Love knows that I exist.”
She also expertly deflected a query about what she thinks about her High School Musical: The Musical: The Series co-star Joshua Bassett coming out in an interview with GQ in June. “I know nothing about it, and it’s not my business to speak on it,” she said of her co-star, who fans have speculated is the subject of some of the cutting songs on her Sour debut in the wake of an alleged love triangle between herself, Bassett and singer Sabrina Carpenter.
The interview also touches on her “weirdest” fan experience so far — someone who said they’d “had sex to the entirety” of her admittedly sad album — her starstruck reaction to Ed Sheeran saying he’s a fan, and the reveal of the first album she ever bought: a copy of Lorde’s Pure Heroine on vinyl that she picked up at Urban Outfitters when she was 11.
She also answered a query about the big question mark hanging over her acting future. “I really don’t know where my career’s going to go in the next five years or in the next 10,” she said when asked if she still wants to act going forward. “I’m really grateful that I get to be doing both now. I just think it’s about finding projects and writing songs I feel really passionate about.”
Read the full interview here.