Latinx LeadersWomen in Power

Olivia Julianna Inspires Over a Million Followers to Create Meaningful Political Change

Olivia Julianna (Photo by Alex Rosa)

Whether she’s advocating for abortion rights or meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris to discuss queer policy changes, 21-year-old Olivia Julianna is wasting no time using her voice to create change in the ongoing battle for equality. Fighting for what’s right is something that’s always been deeply important to this ambitious Houstonian.

“I grew up in the church and worked in ministry, and that is where my passion for service came from,” Olivia says. “I see Jesus as the ultimate activist in the story of my upbringing. He loved all people, served all people, cared for all people. That’s how I chose to live my life.”

Since then, Olivia has amassed some notable activist’s credentials as she quickly makes a name for herself. She was the director of politics and government affairs for Gen-Z for Change, with Bloomberg Media naming her one of the 50 Most Influential People of 2022. When US Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, criticized Olivia on Twitter and publicly made comments about her body at the Turning Point USA summit in Florida, Julianna responded by rallying her Twitter followers to contribute more than $2 million to the Gen-Z for Choice Abortion Fund.

With over a million followers on TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram combined, Olivia’s message is clearly resonating. However, she says she’s just a regular person who is using her platform to advocate for progressive candidates and drive narrative change, hoping to inspire more young people to get involved in politics along the way.

“We must show up in numbers to vote, to block-walk, and to make public comments that we will not let them do these things unchallenged. They will have to look into unafraid eyes when they try to take our rights away.” — Olivia Julianna

“I think one of the main issues in this country is apathy,” she says, “and I think a lot of people have voter apathy because they vote in federal elections thinking that will solve all our problems. But that’s not the case. State governments are largely to blame for the worst laws we’ve seen in this country, but most people don’t realize that. I want people to understand that every level of government has a huge impact on our lives, which is why we should be engaged on every level. I also advocate for the issues most near to my heart: reproductive health care, education, voting rights—things that matter to me as a Texan.

“At the end of the day, I’m just a regular person,” she emphasizes. “I live a fairly normal life. I wake up every morning and walk my dog, do my laundry, cook my meals. I’m not a pundit on a major network or a politician who was born into privilege. I’m just a 21-year-old who really cares about my home state and other people. I think that people are more comfortable hearing from someone they can relate to when it comes to these important issues and policies. It provides a sense of comfort.”

For those in the LGBTQ community wanting to get involved with activism, Olivia emphasizes that showing up to protest and vote is a huge help.

“I got to tell President Biden that the American Rescue Plan sent me to college” —Olivia Julianna (Instagram)

“We must show up in numbers to vote, to block-walk, and to make public comments that we will not let them do these things unchallenged. They will have to look into unafraid eyes when they try to take our rights away,” she forcefully asserts. “They want us to be too afraid to speak out, which is why we must always speak out.” If people are too nervous to get involved in activism or they aren’t out yet, Olivia encourages them to be involved as openly or as quietly as they’re comfortable with.

“Some people may not be OK being outwardly involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy for safety concerns or they haven’t yet come out to folks, and the good news is that you can be an intersectional activist,” she explains. “Abortion advocacy, domestic-violence prevention advocacy, and voting-rights advocacy all have to do with LGBTQ+ rights. You can march, but you can also become a poll worker during election season. You can protest, but you can also become a voter registrar and register people to vote in elections. There isn’t any one way to correctly be involved.”

Having met with several leaders, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Olivia feels that her activism is making a sizable impact, with leaders remembering her and the values she’s fighting for.

“I’ve actually met the vice president a few times, and each time has been like a breath of air,” she says. “Every time we’ve spoken, she’s asked me about my studies and about my family. She’s remembered me every time. Sometimes it can feel like organizers from the South aren’t really seen or heard, that we are forgotten in the shuffle. Speaking with the vice president has made me feel seen and heard, and to me, when I come into any room of power, I bring my people with me. I bring Texans, I bring Latinas, I bring women. So to be able to represent Southern organizers in such an important way has really left an impact on me.”

“Texas gives me hope,” Olivia notes. “Houston gives me hope. We watched our county judge be outspent by millions of dollars and have an ad run against her during the World Series, and she still won! We killed school vouchers this past session. We’ve got an amazing candidate, Colin Allred, who will be at the top of the ticket in November against Ted Cruz. We have things that are working for us here, and I’m confident that they will pay off.”

Keep up with Olivia Julianna on Instagram @0liviajulianna.

Comments

Connor Behrens

Connor Behrens is a communications graduate from the University of Houston. He has written for the Washington Post, Community Impact Newspaper and the Galveston County Daily News (the oldest newspaper in Texas). When he's not writing stories, he is likely watching the latest new release at the movie theater.
Back to top button