Meet Olivia Julianna, the Texas teen who helped bring down the pro-life whistleblower site
Houston, Texas - You might know Olivia Julianna as the Gen Z TikToker who encouraged people to flood a pro-life whistleblower site with fake tips after Senate Bill 8 went into effect in Texas – but she's so much more than that.
When you've grown up in a divisive political climate the way Olivia Julianna did, it's hard to not have an opinion.
She was in kindergarten as former President Barack Obama stepped into office, but as Julianna grew up, it became glaringly obvious just how vital race, gender, and sex were to the political conversation.
It wasn't until the death of George Floyd in 2020 that the young Texas native started using her voice to spark conversation and change via social media.
"It wrecked me to see the country's response to this, and how so many people were so racist and hateful, especially where I live," Julianna told TAG24.
Hailing from a suburb of Houston, Texas, Julianna said she's spent most of her life surrounded by conservatives, and seeing how many reacted to Floyd's death meant that she just couldn't stay silent anymore.
"I really wanted to make it clear on social media that I support these communities, and I support Black Lives Matter, and I thought that Trump was a really big proponent of this kind of bigotry and hatred," she said.
Rather than remaining silent, Julianna knew she had something to say, and social media platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram made the perfect places for her to lay down some truths and motivate others to take action.
"I kind of started social media with two goals in mind: the first one being to get Trump out of office, but also to fight for disenfranchised groups and disenfranchised communities, and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and for Black Lives Matter," Julianna said.
Over the course of a year, Julianna has garnered 142,000 followers on TikTok and 32,000 followers on Twitter, proving to others – and herself – that what she has to say truly does have an impact.
Trying to become a genuine ally
There's no denying that it can be intimidating to poke your head up in a sea of opinions and sound the alarms with facts and figures, especially in the articulate manner that Julianna does.
But someone needs to be the voice of reason and truth in a world full of noise and political jargon, and that's just what Julianna is doing.
By explicitly calling out politicians for inaction or useless finger pointing, Julianna is not just raising awareness of the problems deeply embedded in US politics, she's also speaking for those who have long felt their voice doesn't matter.
As a native Texan and Mexican-American who also identifies as white, Julianna has found the sweet spot when it comes to perspective, but she knows it's a privilege to even be able to speak truth in such an amplified manner.
"Part of being a genuine ally and being anti-racist is recognizing the privilege you have in trying to fight the systems that discriminate against other people," she said.
The keen interest Julianna has in politics is partially derived from her father's time studying political science.
"He always talked to us about it, even though we have different views, he made it very clear that politics are very important, your civic duty [to vote] is very important."
Those who know Julianna likely aren't surprised by her outspoken ways when it comes to taking on members of the Texas Legislature, and just about any other politician that tries to mess with anyone's rights in any manner.
In seventh grade, Julianna was voted "Most Likely to Become President," with a campaign motto "Vote for me cuz I'm not Trump," often delivered in Spanish.
Fast-forward to present day, and the 18-year-old hasn't let up any steam in terms of fighting for what she believes in.
Fighting the good fight
Rather than just her seventh-grade peers, Julianna is now speaking to a global audience via her social media channels.
Having your voice heard by millions of people around the world comes with its downfalls and perpetual self-doubt. When insecurities take over Julianna's headspace, she simply reflects on the countless messages she's received from those in her corner.
"I've had a lot of women here in Texas, and a lot of people here in Texas, reach out to me and tell me that what I'm doing is really important to them," Julianna said, citing one message from a Texas mother that she can't shake.
"She's a full-time registered nurse here in Texas during the pandemic, and she told me that she's exhausted, and it means so much to her that there's somebody advocating for women here and advocating for healthcare workers."
As someone who's built up their social media following by means of speaking truth to power, Julianna admitted it's easy to get lost in the metrics behind the scenes. Yet, moments like this are what keep her grounded and pushing forward.
"With views and retweets and likes, sometimes you forget that there are people behind those. To take a moment and reflect on the fact that that's a person, and that what I'm saying is genuinely impacting people, is amazing," Julianna said.
The future political landscape of Texas
In terms of Texas and the path to a brighter political future for the state, Julianna is hoping that Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, who also served as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 2014 to 2017, steps up to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott.
Although Castro has yet to express any intention of running for governor, Julianna sees him as the only viable option to take on Abbott in the 2022 midterm elections.
"I think he'd be a great candidate. He's been doing a lot of anti-Abbott press, which I'm hoping that's why he's doing it," Julianna told TAG24.
Hopes aside, she's surprised and infuriated that no one has announced a run against Abbott yet.
"It makes me angry, to be honest," she continued, "You should have announced that you are gonna do that the day [Senate Bill 8] went into law. You should've been there."
To really change the political climate in Texas, it's going to take more than just voting for the other party.
"I think the problem is that we're putting up the wrong Democrats. More people would be willing to vote for progressives if progressives actually got the chance to be the main person running in the election," Julianna said.
By having a knowledgeable and outspoken Gen Z voice such as Julianna's be part of the current political conversations, voters in every generation are getting to see just how impactful their voices – and votes – can be.
Cover photo: Collage: Screenshot / Instagram / 0liviajulianna