Spotlight: What you need to know about Olivia Rodrigo

Ysa Abad
Spotlight: What you need to know about Olivia Rodrigo

SOUR. 18-year-old singer Olivia Rodrigo breaks records with her debut album.

Olivia Rodrigo's Instagram

From writing One Direction fan fiction to creating 'Sour' - here's a few things you should know about Olivia Rodrigo

At this point, you’d have to be living under a rock if you still haven’t heard of Olivia Rodrigo.

Even before her record-breaking debut album Sour was released in May, the 18-year-old singer captured the world’s attention, singing about heartbreak in the singles “drivers license,” “deja vu” and “good 4 u.” 

Whatever your relationship status is, we’re sure that you’re curious about young lady, who has managed to condense all our heartaches in its full, unapologetically angst-y glory.

Olivia has Filipino roots

Born on February 20, 2003, Olivia grew up in Marietta, California before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a Hollywood career. 

Her mother is American with Irish and German descent, while her father is Filipino-American. Speaking about her heritage on the Disney Channel, Olivia said that her great-grandfather immigrated to the States when he was only a teen. 

“Some traditions that have carried over to my generation are that we actually make a Filipino food. My great-grandpa had a garden and he also was a really good cook, so he’d make lumpia which is kind of like Filipino egg rolls and really yummy,” she shared. 

Olivia also said that she’s proud of her heritage. “I’m a Filipino. I’m a lumpia fan. I’m a daughter and a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter. I’m an American. I’m an Asian Pacific Islander,” she said in the video.

In an interview with Center for Asian American Media (CAM), Olivia said she hopes to visit the Philippines one day. “I really want to. We still have extended family there, but I’ve never met them. That’s on my bucket list, definitely,” she said. 

Fans have pointed out Olivia’s resemblance to Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray and asked if they’re distant relatives. Both have clarified that they aren’t. The beauty queen did say, however, that she’s love to collaborate with the breakout singer, given the chance.

Olivia writes songs based on her experience

Olivia released her debut single “drivers license” on January 8. It landed on the top spot of the Billboard Hot 100 within a week of its release, making her just the fourth artist born in the 2000s to score a Hot 100 No. 1. The other three are Jawsh 685, Billie Ellish and 24kGold. 

In an interview with W Magazine, Olivia admitted that she felt the pressure following the overwhelming reaction to her first track. 

“I always have to remember that, at the end of the day, I would write music even if no one was listening. I don’t write songs for the charts, or even for people to like them. But is it weird to have your first song be such a huge success and break all these records. How do you follow that up?” she said. 

The singer added that everything feels “surreal” and that never in her “wildest dreams” did she imagine this level of success. With the release of “deja vu” and “good 4 u,” Olivia proved to naysayers that isn’t a one-hit wonder. 

In an interview with The Face, Olivia revealed that she started writing majority of the songs on Sour when she was 17. “It’s a really strange age where you’re figuring out so many things: how you want to be treated, love and heartbreak, how you fit into the world and how you relate to other people,” she said.

Sour is me grappling with all of them. It wasn’t something I wrote in hindsight. It’s very much how I was feeling at that time.”

Olivia also explained the theme of her debut album. “I’m also fascinated by the idea of a relationship going sour – how a person you loved so much and told all your secrets to can become the person you can’t stand,” she said.

Beyond the music records, Olivia said that she feels empowered when people resonate with her music. “For me, the goal of all music is to take these complicated feelings and externalize them in a way that makes people feel seen.” 

“That’s just my biggest dream as a songwriter… I’m just so happy that people are resonating with the stories that I’m telling and I hope that I can continue to share that experience with people,” she told Bandwagon Asia.

With Sour so far being the biggest album debut record for 2021, Olivia admitted in her short film that she didn’t expect for an album that talks about “uncomfortable emotions” like “jealousy, anger, spite” to have this huge a response.

“Making music has really taught me how to have confidence in my point of view and choices… I’m never gonna sacrifice writing truthful, authentic personal songs for fear of what a couple people of internet will gonna say,” she said.

Olivia said, however, that she’s no longer the girl she was when she was writing Sour. “I remember writing it being so sad and so insecure… but I’m just so far from that now and I’m so proud of that,” she said.

She’s a successful fangirl

As a true child of the oughts, Olivia is an unabashed fan of Taylor Swift and One Direction.

On her Instagram, Olivia said she was “in a puddle of tears” when her song “drivers license” ranked beside Taylor’s evermore tracks on the iTunes charts.

In Taylor’s reply to Olivia’s post, the Fearless (Taylor’s Version) singer said she’s proud of Olivia, and called the younger singer her baby. Olivia said it was the “highlight of her senior year.” 

Taylor and Olivia met for the first time in person at the 2021 BRIT Awards on May 11.

Like most women her age, Olivia was and is still a huge One Direction fan. “This is sort of embarrassing, but I’m going to tell you anyway… I used to write One Direction fan fiction when I was in middle school,” she confessed to Capital FM’s Will Manning, as reported by Billboard.

She said it still amazes her that One Direction member Niall Horan has reached out to her. “He’s been giving me advice about the craziness of the music industry. So it’s been really amazing,” she said. 

She’s a Disney baby

Aside from singing, Olivia also has an acting career. She is best known for playing Nini Salazar Roberts in The High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. 

She played a gifted singer and actress who auditioned for the role of Gabriella Montes in East High’s production of High School Musical.

Olivia also co-wrote several tracks for the series including, “All I Want,” which has recorded over 196 million streams on Spotify.

Prior to The High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Olivia also starred in another Disney series, Bizaardvark, as Paige Olvera. Paige is a guitarist who runs a popular YouTube channel with her best friend Frankie. 

Olivia said she doesn’t want to be boxed in by her Disney characters. “I think there’s a specific archetype of the Disney star turned pop star that I didn’t want to follow,” she told W Magazine

Olivia has also made appearances in an episode of New Girl in season six and American Girl: Grace Stirs Up Success. 

With the amount of success she’s made in the first half of this year alone, there’s no denying that things will just get better for Olivia.  –