The Untold Truth Of Olivia Rodrigo

Actor and musician Olivia Rodrigo is the latest in a long line of Disney stars to launch a solo music career. Joining the likes of superstars Miley Cyrus, Zendaya, Demi Lovato, Vanessa Hudgens, and Selena Gomez, to name five high-profile examples of the last decade, Rodrigo soon captured some of that same stardom her predecessors enjoyed when the singer-songwriter released her single "Drivers License" in January 2021. It quickly went viral and has since amassed over 388 million views on YouTube.

First introduced to the world as Nini Salazar-Roberts on "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" (assumedly a humorously exaggerated title), Rodrigo plays her high school's musical version of Gabriella Montez, the role that shot Hudgens into superstardom well over a decade ago. On the show, the precocious Rodrigo, born in 2003, single-handedly wrote and performed the ballad "All I Want" for the Disney+ series, as released in January 2020, Billboard reported. The song features such Taylor Swift-esque confessional lyrics like, "And I miss the days, when I was young and naive / I thought the perfect guy would come and find me / Now happy ever after it don't come so easily." Accompanied by a soft piano melody, the single rose to be a Billboard Hot 100 hit, earned a gold certification within a few months, and was just the first sign that Rodrigo was destined to become the next huge thing in pop music.

Now, let's get some deeper insight into the young woman who may become one of Disney's most successful alumni yet. This is the untold truth about Olivia Rodrigo.

She graduated high school after releasing Drivers License

Olivia Rodrigo was not your typical high school student. The chart-topping songstress received her diploma shortly after her hit debut single "Drivers License" became a global success. The song solidified Rodrigo as a household name when it spent eight weeks at the top of Billboard Hot 100. But the overnight fame didn't stop the former Disney star from continuing her education. Rodrigo was seemingly (and, in our opinion, rightly) incredibly proud of the accomplishment, as she took to Instagram in June 2021 to share a post in celebration of her high school graduation. The "Favorite Crime" singer was all smiles in the photo, which featured her in a navy-blue cap and gown alongside the simple caption, "bye high school!!!!!!!"

As you may have guessed, Rodrigo admitted that earning a diploma as an international pop sensation wasn't an easy feat while opening up about balancing high school classes and a blossoming music and acting career during an interview with Billboard. "I have like a month left of senior year, and I've sort of been neglecting that," Rodrigo said amid the release of "Drivers License." "Because I've been off making my album, I sort of forgot I was a high school student."

Olivia Rodrigo proudly represents young Filipina girls

Olivia Rodrigo has been a role model for her Filipino fans since the start of her Disney days. The star's father is Filipino-American, so she grew up learning his cultural traditions. In a 2017 clip for Disney Channel's celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Rodrigo explained that her great-grandfather, who relocated from the Philippines to America, helped introduce her to Filipino food. In a separate interview with the Oregon radio station Live 95.5, the musician shared that her favorite dish is her grandmother's Lumpia, which is a Filipino-style egg roll that is typically filled with meat and vegetables. Rodrigo explained that, because she doesn't eat meat, her grandmother incorporates tofu instead.

The star's passion for Filipino food is only one of the many ways she celebrates her heritage. Rodrigo opened up about representing young Filipina girls during her 2021 interview with V Magazine. "I sometimes get DMs from little girls being like, 'I've never seen someone who looked like me in your position,'" the "Good 4 U" hitmaker revealed. "And I'm literally going to cry. Like just thinking about it. I feel like I grew up never seeing that. Also it was always like, 'Pop star,' that's a white girl." 

Rodrigo clearly has a long list of accomplishments under her belt for Filipino youth to look up to. From finding fame as a Disney star to releasing a single that debuted at the top of the charts, the musician has embraced her culture every step of the way.

The singer-actor starred in an American Girl movie

Olivia Rodrigo's acting career is defined by her role as Nina Salazar-Roberts in the Disney+ show "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series," but the star was already an experienced actor prior to becoming a Disney celebrity. In 2015, she starred in the American Girl film "Grace Stirs Up Success." The children's movie follows Grace (played by Rodrigo) and her cousin, Sylvie, as they get to know each other in Paris and attempt to save their family's business. It seems that this early gig remained close to the musician's heart, because she was spotted at the American Girl doll store in April 2022, and she left with an adorable doll that looked just like her.

Rodrigo proved that teenagers can still play with toys when she took to her Instagram Stories to share photos of her two American Girl dolls in a pink car, per the Daily Mail. The singer joked that the pair resembled her and her friend, Iris Apatow. The actor also posted photos of herself holding a DVD copy of "Grace Stirs Up Success" in the American Girl store, making it look like the role was perhaps a childhood dream come true. 

Rodrigo's other early acting career gigs include a minor role on Fox's "New Girl" and an Old Navy commercial she booked at only 12 years old.

She's called Vanessa Hudgens her 'soul sister'

Vanessa Hudgens brought Gabriella Montez to life in the Disney Channel's "High School Musical" trilogy. She helped make the quiet, intellectually gifted high school student an incredibly memorable character who continues to live on through the Disney+ series "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." Now, Olivia Rodrigo's character, Nini, embodies Montez in her school's "HSM"-inspired play. It seems that Rodrigo was honored to reprise the character, as she appeared thrilled to meet Hudgens at the Met Gala in 2022. 

"I always feel like I have such a connection to you because of that," Hudgens said while interviewing the star, referring to Rodrigo taking over her iconic role (via Pop Crave). "I know, we're soul sisters!" the "Deja Vu" singer responded.

For her part, Hudgens has appeared equally as excited about Gabriella's new form, considering she only had good things to say about Rodrigo during an interview with E! News. "I mean, it's so wild," the "Spring Breakers" star revealed. "I literally saw an Instagram post the other day that said 'Gabriella Montez' and it wasn't me, and I was like, '... I'm sorry?'" She went to gush about Rodrigo's talent. "But [Olivia's] incredible and I'm such a fan of hers — love her music — so it's amazing seeing ["High School Musical"] continue to live on," Hudgens shared.

Olivia Rodrigo is a major Taylor Swift fan

Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift share many similarities. Both stars are Grammy Award holders who first found fame as incredibly talented teen singer-songwriters. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Rodrigo is a huge Swiftie. The "Happier" singer even drew inspiration from Swift when writing songs for her debut album. According to Rodrigo, her song "1 Step Forward, 3 Steps Back" uses interpolated chords from her idol's tune, "New Year's Day." The singer revealed how developed the idea during an interview on "The Zach Sang Show." "I came up with the '1 step forward' concept, and I sort of wrote a verse and a chorus," Rodrigo said. "... I was in the car on a road trip, and when I got home, I decided to sing it over the chords of 'New Year's Day.' I think they're really beautiful chords. ... I was lucky enough to get that approved, and it's on the record now."

Rodrigo met Swift at the Brit Awards in 2021 and even snapped a silly photo with her for Instagram. For her part, the "Shake It Off" singer also sent the younger star some very meaningful gifts. During an interview with SiriusXM, Rodrigo revealed that, alongside a handwritten letter, "She gave me this ring, because she said she wore one just like it when she wrote 'Red' and she wanted me to have one like it, and all of this amazing stuff, she like hand-wrapped these gifts."

The musician starred in Bizaardvark

You might remember the Disney Channel sitcom "Bizaardvark," which aired from 2016 to 2019. But did you know that the show starred a young Olivia Rodrigo? That's right, the megastar once shared the spotlight with influencer co-star Jake Paul on the short-lived series. Rodrigo took on the role of Paige Olvera, who was a young influencer and guitarist on the sitcom. The actor was first cast on the show at only 12 years old, and it changed her life forever.

In an interview with Elle, Rodrigo spoke about going through such a drastic transition as a child, sharing that her family uprooted their lives to support her career. They moved into an apartment in downtown Los Angeles to be closer to Rodrigo's demanding job, which is an experience most 12-year-olds can't relate to. "It's a multicamera sitcom, so literally every set is within a yard of each other," she said, reminiscing on her days on "Bizaardvark." "You just walk to the different sets."

However, Rodrigo went on to share that she had an identity crisis at only the age of 14. While most middle schoolers have homework and friendships to worry about, the Disney star was struggling with much more adult worries, such as how to define her brand. "Who the f**k am I?" Rodrigo said of the questions she would ask herself. "Who cares about me? How do I treat people? Most 14-year-olds aren't in a room with adults being like, 'So, what's your brand?'"

Olivia Rodrigo was born and raised in California

Olivia Rodrigo grew up in Temecula, California with her parents. It seems that the musician is passionate about her home state, considering her 2022 Disney+ documentary, "Driving Home 2 U," follows the star as she takes a road trip through the West coast, performing at places she visited as a child. Speaking about the inspiration behind the documentary, per the Los Angeles Times, Rodrigo said, "I want to play the songs in these places that meant so much to me and revisit them with older eyes."

The singer spent much of her childhood sharpening her skills at music schools in Temecula. Rodrigo's former music teachers have watched their student become an overnight sensation, and they appeared to be incredibly proud of her success while talking to CBS 8 about having the future star in their classrooms. Hannah Warner of the Temecula Music Teacher studio, for example, said she helped Rodrigo prepare for her "Bizaardvark" audition. "In that room at the time, there were hundreds of people there and it was like the air was sucked out of the building," Warner said, recalling one of the then-aspiring singer-songwriter's performances. "Nobody could breathe, nobody could talk, nobody could move until they heard the very last note of the song." 

Meanwhile, Rodrigo's former vocal coach, Gwyn Sanborn, shared that the star's success has inspired other young musical hopefuls in Temecula.

She spoke out about the Drivers License drama

"Drivers License" made Olivia Rodrigo incredibly successful, but it also brought quite a bit of drama into her life. As many fans might already know, the song is believed to be about the musician's alleged relationship with her "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series" co-star, Joshua Bassett. When "Drivers License" was released, Rodrigo's raw emotion resonated with those who listened to the song, which resulted in many passionate opinions across the internet. 

"There was so much drama that was around 'Drivers License,' and so much hate," the singer said in her Disney+ documentary "Driving Home 2 U" (via ET). Rodrigo wasn't the only one affected by the social media discourse that followed, however. Bassett has also opened up about receiving hate. In fact, the actor was apparently so severely impacted by online trolling that he faced serious stress-induced health issues, according to People. "I felt my heart literally failing," the "Lie Lie Lie" singer said. "I was like, 'This isn't just anxiety. This is bad.'" The musician went on to reveal he was hit with shocking information upon checking in to the hospital. "The doctors were like, 'If you hadn't checked in within 12 hours, you would have died in your apartment,'" he shared. 

Former Disney star Sabrina Carpenter, with whom Joshua Basset began a relationship after his alleged romance with Rodrigo, joined in on the drama when she released her song "Skin." The single is believed to be about Rodrigo, but Carpenter took to Instagram to write in part: "The song isn't calling out one single person."

The hitmaker doesn't like being compared to other artists

The release of Olivia Rodrigo's debut album "Sour" further proved that great success often comes with scrutiny. Many listeners have pointed out alleged similarities between Rodrigo and other popular female musicians, leading the singer to tell Teen Vogue: "I think it's disappointing to see people take things out of context and discredit any young woman's work. But at the end of the day I'm just really proud and happy to say that my job is being a songwriter."

While Rodrigo doesn't seem to enjoy the constant comparisons, she did incorporate certain aspects of other artists' work into some of her songs — at least inadvertently, as she revised songwriting credits on some tracks as a result. The musician gave Paramore's Hayley Williams and Joshua Farro writing credits on her hit single "Good 4 U," per Billboard. Fans had previously noticed similarities between Rodrigo's song and Paramore's "Misery Business," with a mashup of the two tracks even receiving over 4 million views on YouTube. Similarly, it appears that Rodrigo also drew inspiration from her idol, Taylor Swift, for her single "Deja Vu." The Disney star added Swift along with songwriters Jack Antonoff and St. Vincent to the track's writing credits after its release, according to Billboard

Still, Rodrigo doesn't exactly feel that the negativity around these two tracks was totally warranted. "It was really frustrating to see people discredit and deny my creativity," she told Time after being named "Entertainer of the Year" by the magazine in 2021.

Olivia Rodrigo wrote songs for her Disney+ show

Before Olivia Rodrigo launched her career as a singer-songwriter, she perfected her songwriting skills by writing songs for "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." The musician wrote "All I Want" during Season 1 of the Disney+ hit, and she explained to MTV News that it inspired her to make one of the biggest decisions of her career thus far: "I first realized songwriting was sort of a viable option for my life when I got to write [that] song [for the show]." Writing for the series, then, helped her pivot into making her own music.

Rodrigo later wrote "The Rose Song" for her character, Nini, to perform during Season 2, and she opened up about how much she enjoyed the project during an interview with USA Today. "It sort of felt like a magical experience," Rodrigo said. "... I wrote the first version chords in 20 minutes the morning after [producer Tim Federle] called me and told me about the concept of the song. It felt like it was meant to be." 

The "Traitor" singer also revealed that writing songs for the show is a unique process because there are more constraints, such as the need to adhere to a writing prompt. Still, Rodrigo admitted that she enjoys the challenge.

Jake Paul predicted Olivia Rodrigo's success

As previously mentioned, Olivia Rodrigo shared the spotlight with YouTuber Jake Paul during her time on Disney Channel's "Bizaardvark." Back then, Paul was more well-known than the budding pop star, but it seems that the tables have since turned, and the YouTube star recalled his days on set with the musician during an interview with ET. "I would be in my dressing room and she would be in hers, and I would just hear her singing from down the hall, playing the piano, and she was just always super talented, super nice," Paul said. The influencer continued on about the singer-actor's potential: "She was an amazing actor, everyone on that set and that show was super talented. But Olivia just had something special, and I'm good at spotting talent."

Although the former co-stars don't appear to be super close, Rodrigo seems to appreciate Paul's support. During an interview with The New York Times, she admitted, "I haven't seen him since he left the show, but the last thing he said to me was, 'You're gonna sell out stadiums one day, kid.' He called it." However, while Rodrigo also appeared to be mindful of Paul's controversial image, she wasn't afraid to shout him out, going on to say, "God, my publicist would not appreciate me saying this. He was very nice to me. I don't really follow all the stuff he does online anymore." 

Maybe there's hope that these two will reunite one day.

She's been romantically linked to a number of celebs

The release of "Sour" resulted in tons of speculation regarding Olivia Rodrigo's romantic history: As previously mentioned, the musician never officially confirmed a relationship with Joshua Basset, but that didn't stop fans from making their own assumptions. However, it probably didn't help that Rodrigo also seemingly hinted at the possible romance in a sweet song she wrote while in quarantine.

In March 2022, she took to Instagram to share a clip of her singing the lyrics for "Gross": "I wonder what I would say if I knew back then that brown-eyed boy would be my best friend and the one I gave my heart to." The tone of this song was much different from many of the tracks on Rodrigo's debut album, which is believed to be inspired by her alleged split from Bassett. Although no relationship or breakup involving the co-stars was ever publicly revealed, Bassett and Rodrigo seemingly grew distant after Sabrina Carpenter came into the picture.

After healing from the heartbreak that inspired "Sour," Rodrigo was seen kissing producer Adam Faze in July 2021. The alleged couple never made their relationship public, but it was seemingly short-lived, as a source told People they split in early 2022. Rodrigo sparked dating rumors again when she was spotted getting close to TikTok star Vinnie Hacker at her concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles that May, per E! News. The pair were photographed embracing one another before Rodrigo left the venue — but neither have spoken about their relationship status, as of this writing.

Conan Gray is one of Olivia Rodrigo's close friends

Anyone who follows Olivia Rodrigo and Conan Gray on social media knows how close the two friends are. The seemingly inseparable duo was first spotted together in a photo posted to Rodrigo's Instagram account in March 2021, which was captioned, "Conan and Olivia listening to 'you all over me' but it's a renaissance painting." This let us know that the pair have bonded over their love for Taylor Swift — what more could you need out of a friendship?

The talented pals are so close that they've even attended each other's studio sessions, with Rodrigo speaking about the "Memories" singer accompanying her to work during an interview with Capital FM. "Conan's a friend of mine, and the guy who produces most of my music produces most of his," the musician said. "We're just pals and I think he's so brilliant." While these two haven't hopped on a track together (yet!), they did perform with one another during Rodrigo's "Sour Tour" at a show in Vancouver, Canada, where lucky fans got to watch the singers perform a duet version of Katy Perry's "The One That Got Away." 

Rodrigo celebrated the special moment by sharing a video clip of the performance on Instagram in April 2022. "ilysm @conangray singing with u is my favorite thing everrrr," she sweetly wrote in the caption.

Olivia Rodrigo's net worth might surprise you

Olivia Rodrigo dominated the charts when she released her debut album "Sour" in 2021, and she launched her very own headlining world tour that same year. As previously mentioned, she's also done well for herself as an actor on the likes of "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series." According to Celebrity Net Worth, all of these career accomplishments have culminated in an estimated $5 million net worth for the young pop star. 

Although Rodrigo's increasing wealth was initially the result of her acting career, she seems to be slowly making the transition from Disney+ star to full-time musician these days. In March 2022, ET revealed that her "HSM" character would be switching over from series regular to recurring status in Season 3 — meaning that the actor will appear on the show a lot less. Rodrigo has yet to speak on the change, as of this writing, but it might be a smart financial decision considering the overnight success of her music career.

And while the Grammy-winning singer-actor seems to like spending her hard-earned cash on traveling and her ever-expanding wardrobe, as noted by The Things, we imagine Rodrigo's biggest purchase to date was her own house in Los Angeles — prior to graduating high school, no less! Speaking with Billboard in 2021, the busy star opened up about leaving her parents' home amid her increasing success. "I turned 18, and then I came back and finished my album and moved out and everything," Rodrigo reflected. "So it was all a very condensed growing-up experience."