Pop star Olivia Rodrigo rallies 20M fans to get their jabs

‘You have the power to save lives.’ Photo: White House staff

FilAm actress, singer and songwriter Olivia Rodrigo is using her voice to speak to young Americans about the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19.

At a press briefing on July 14, Rodrigo, a Filipino American multiplatinum recording artist, faced White House journalists before she was to meet President Biden and his chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci. She was introduced to reporters by Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

“I am beyond honored and humbled to be here today to help spread the message about the importance of youth vaccination,” said Rodrigo, 18. “I’m in awe of the work President Biden and Dr. Fauci have done, and was happy to help lend my support to this important initiative.”

She continued: “It’s important to have conversations with friends and family members, encouraging all communities to get vaccinated, and actually get to a vaccination site, which you can do more easily than ever before, given how many sites we have and how easy it is to find them at Vaccines.gov.”

She recorded a video with Fauci where a fan asked when Rodrigo would have her own concert. Fauci said he would love to go to a concert when the pandemic is over. His last — a Motown concert with The Temptations and The Four Tops — was in the 1950s at the Paramount Theatre in New York City. “I’m a really old guy.”

Rodrigo responded with, “Oh my god, that’s incredible.”

After the meeting, she messaged her more than 20 million social media followers how she had the “absolute honor of visiting the White House today and chatting with @potus about the importance of getting vaccinated! 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. YOU have the power to save lives.”

Psaki thanked Rodrigo for using her “platform and voice for elevating the important issue of young people getting vaccinated.”

‘Kind and respectful’

Rodrigo is an up-and-coming pop singer who was quickly compared to her idol Taylor Swift for her musical style, the heartbreak themes in her songs, and her soaring success as a young artist. She was born in Murrieta, California to a Filipino American father, Chris Rodrigo, and mother Jennifer who is of German and Irish ethnicity. “My parents taught me how to be kind and respectful and to always do the right thing,” she said.

She said her Filipino heritage comes from her great-grandfather.

“He came on a boat from the Philippines when he was just a teenager. Can you imagine moving to a whole new country all by yourself?” Rodrigo shared in a May 2017 Disney video in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

A television commercial for a clothing company paved the way for Rodrigo in 2015. The real deal came a year later when Disney Channel offered her a role in the comedy series “Bizaardvark” where she was cast as the guitar-playing teen Paige Olvera.

In 2019, she starred in “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” produced by the streaming channel Disney +. A song she wrote, “All I Want,” became the series soundtrack. The song quickly zoomed to the top of the charts and stayed there for weeks until it became a certified Gold record. It’s been one hit after another with songs like “Déjà Vu” and “Driver’s License” followed by an album titled “Sour.”

“Driver’s License,” which was streamed at least 500 million times on Spotify, has the following lyrics. A fan writes, “There is “real pain in her songs.”

And you’re probably with that blonde girl
Who always made me doubt
She’s so much older than me
She’s everything I’m insecure about…

Pop music journalists and netizens have noted distinct similarities between her and Taylor Swift’s compositions, which Rodrigo appears to take in stride. She regards Swift as a strong influence and an “inspiration” and dubs herself a genuine “Swiftie.”

“My heritage is a part of who I am,” Rodrigo said in the Disney video on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. “I’m part Filipina on my dad’s side of the family.  I’m a Lumpia fan. I’m a daughter and a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter. I’m American. I’m an Asian-Pacific islander.” – Cristina DC Pastor

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