If you've yet to hear Olivia Rodrigo's 2021 debut studio album "SOUR" — or yet to see all the videos it spawned — what have you been doing?! To celebrate the 18-year-old "Drivers License" singer's three big wins during the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards on Sept. 12, Wonderwall.com rounded up everything you might not know (but definitely should!) about this talented young star.
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Olivia Rodrigo didn't just win the Moon Person trophy for best new artist during the 2021 MTV VMAs! She also won the awards for song of the year and push performance of the year for her hit "Drivers License" and performed another of her hit singles, "Good 4 U," early in the show. She was up for two more awards this year for "Good 4 U" — best pop video and song of the summer, which she lost to Justin Bieber's "Peaches" and to BTS's "Butter," respectively. Ultimately, there was a three-way tie for most wins during the 2021 MTV VMAs: Olivia, BTS and Lil Nas X each took home three Moon Person trophies.
Olivia Rodrigo, who was born on Feb. 20, 2003, is a Filipina American entertainer who was raised in Temecula, California, by a Filipino American father and a white mother. "It actually makes me want to cry. It's so touching," she told People magazine of representing Filipino people. "Representation in TV and media is so important. And I'm so glad that I can hopefully be an example for a little Asian girl out there, that they can do anything they set their mind to."
Since late 2019, Olivia Rodrigo has starred on the Disney+ series "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." Before landing her breakthrough role on the "HSM" spinoff, she starred on Disney Channel's "Bizaardvark" from 2016 to 2019. She also has plenty of fans from her lead performance in the 2015 American Girl movie "Grace Stirs Up Success."
May 21, 2021, marked the release of Olivia Rodrigo's highly anticipated debut studio album, "SOUR." With its infectious pop punk songs and poignant ballads, the album was a massive hit — and it has the receipts to prove it. Less than a month after its release, "SOUR" — which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart — had eight tracks on Billboard's Streaming Songs chart, breaking a record previously held by Taylor Swift. "SOUR" also had the biggest opening week for an album from a female artist in Spotify history, delivering about 385 million streams just seven days following its release.
From setting records with her debut single and studio album to graduating from high school, Olivia Rodrigo's life has changed drastically in the last year. Another major milestone? She moved out on her own! "I love living alone," she told GQ in August 2021. "I also just don't know how to take care of myself, though. I don't know what to buy from the grocery store or how to clean up after myself, I realized. It's been a learning experience."
We adore their friendship! Olivia Rodrigo's best friend is Iris Apatow (pictured) — "Euphoria" actress Maude Apatow's little sister and filmmaker Judd Apatow and actress Leslie Mann's daughter. The pair make frequent appearances on each other's Instagram accounts and are both obsessed with early 2000s culture. Olivia also told Vice of their friendship, "We're dramatic, fiercely loyal and we both love going to brunch."
Olivia Rodrigo has been heavily influenced by one era in particular: the '90s. "I wish I could be a teenager in the '90s, because that's my favorite music ever," she told Vogue, also citing Alanis Morissette and Fiona Apple as inspirations. "I just feel like it's so raw. I remember the first time I heard 'Jagged Little Pill' and I turned to my mom and was like, 'Oh my gosh, wow, she really just said that.' It's so brutally honest to the point it's almost shocking — they were things that I'd genuinely never heard before in a song. And that was super inspiring to me. That's what really got me going and what made me excited to write my own story."
While the '90s have played a major role in inspiring Olivia Rodrigo's sound, she's also drawn inspiration from New Zealand-based singer-songwriter Lorde. Olivia has previously cited Lorde's debut album "Pure Heroine" — which was released in 2013 — as one that influenced her decision to pursue a career in music.
In May 2021, the same month "SOUR" was released, Olivia Rodrigo delivered the first-ever live performance of her smash single "driver's license" at the BRIT Awards in London. She took the stage in an ethereal red dress by Dior Haute Couture that ELLE reported took 300 hours to make!
Olivia Rodrigo has long been vocal about just how big of a "Swiftie" — a Taylor Swift fan — she is. "I would just love to just be in a studio with Taylor," Olivia said on Apple Music 1's "The Travis Mills Show." "I don't even have to write with her. I just want to watch how she does it because I just think she's such a genius." At the 2021 BRIT Awards, Olivia finally met Taylor — and posed for this photo with her! Prior to meeting, Taylor sent Olivia a handwritten note. "I don't want to divulge too much because it's really sweet and personal," she told Billboard. "But she talks a lot about how, I think, you make your own luck in the world. And when you do kind things to others, good things come your way."
Like her idol, Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo also writes songs based on her personal experiences. "I work really hard to be specific in my songwriting, as I feel like specific songs are the most meaningful," she told Vogue. "I'm just so obsessed with really story-driven songs. I grew up listening to a lot of country music, and country music is really specific and vivid, and I think I always was attracted to that as a young girl, which translated over into my songwriting."
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is a big fan of Olivia Rodrigo's work. "Ed Sheeran the other day was like, 'I love Olivia Rodrigo.' And like, 'I love that she writes her own songs, like rocks out.' And I was like, 'Oh, my God — that's so cool.' I think he's one of the best songwriters ever," Olivia told GQ.
Olivia Rodrigo is unwilling to sacrifice her mental health for monetary success. "I've definitely seen corporate dollars be prioritized over people's mental health," the "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" star told GQ. "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. You can't make art and have a good career if you're not there."
In July 2021, Olivia Rodrigo visited the White House, where she spoke with President Joe Biden on the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19. "Even if you are young and not immunocompromised, getting your covid vaccination is the best thing you can do for your health and your loved ones' health," Olivia wrote on Instagram alongside this photo with the POTUS. "YOU have the power to save lives. check out vaccines.gov to learn more about vaccinations and to find a vaccination center near you (it's free and super easy.)"
Olivia Rodrigo found a star collaborator in producer Dan Nigro, whom she came to know through a singer-songwriter pal. "Dan did this album with Conan Gray, who is a good friend of mine, that I really loved," she told Vogue. "When I met with him, we just clicked right away. I think I really tried my hardest to not surround myself with 'yes' people in the music industry, and Dan is definitely not a 'yes' person. He was one of the first people who ever told me, 'This is good, but I think you can write a better song than this,' which in my mind was so wonderful because that gave me so much more confidence."