Triumphant Twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
|Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.|
Mary-Kate Olsen and Ashley Olsen (both born June 13, 1986) are American actresses, fashion designers, producers, authors, and businesswomen. In fact, it is tough to adequately encapsulate all the fields the Olsen twins have entered and, by and large, conquered. At heart, though, the Olsen twins have become a massive social experiment, an exercises in subjecting a pair of twins to the glare of media celebrity virtually from the day they were born. So far, they have not only survived this unusual exercise, but prospered. However, much of their story remains to be written.
The Olsen twins have become famous in recent years for their fashion endeavors. If you ever get a chance to chat with long-time celebrities, you may find (as I have) that some bitterly resent it when the media focuses on something they did thirty years ago as opposed to what they are doing right now. For example, they might say, "I hate it that the media never references me by that one-season show I was on last year, but instead by that show I was on in the '90s that ran for eight years when I was a kid." No, the Olsen twins did not say that, but yes, this is a real gripe in Hollywood.
However, it is undeniable that the Olsen twins are best known for jointly playing the character of Michelle Tanner on the ABC sitcom "Full House," a show that first ran 30 years ago and ran for eight seasons. This being the real world, let's start there.
The twins were born on June, 13, 1986 in Sherman Oaks, California. They are sororal twins, meaning not identical but simply born at the same time (from different sperm and eggs). This fact confuses some people, because they can compare pictures of the two, notice subtle differences, and draw conclusions from that.
However, it is utterly normal and expected that Ashley and Mary-Kate should look slightly different - though they seem to have gone out of their way at times to suggest that they are identical by dressing and grooming themselves alike. It helps that they actually do look quite alike.
The Olsen twins have other siblings, an older brother, Trent, and a younger sister, Elizabeth. They also have a younger half-sister, Courtney Taylor, and younger half-brother, Jake, from their father Dave Olsen's remarriage.
In late 1987, the producers of ABC sitcom "Full House" were looking for a baby to play a role in the fictional Tanner household. Due to California child labor laws, they sought a pair of babies to fill the single role of Michelle Tanner. Executive Producer Bob Boyett chose Mary-Kate and Ashley, who began playing the role in early 1988, when they were nine months old.
"Full House" turned into a smash hit. It ran for eight seasons, a total of 192 episodes, and ended in 1995. During the show's run, Mary-Kate and Ashley mostly stuck with the role of Michelle Tanner, though they did make an appearance as Michelle on "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper" in 1992. They made quick appearances on television films "To Grandmother's House We Go" (1992), "Double, Double Toil and Trouble" (1993), feature film "The Little Rascals" (1994) and "How the West Was Fun" (1994), but these did not involve a lot of extra effort. Thus, when "Full House" ended, the Olsen twins had a chance to start over completely, with their only real acting history being the "Full House" role.
Thinking ahead, their parents created the holding company DualStar Entertainment Group, LLC for the twins in 1993. This was intended to oversee their post-Full House projects. Ashley and Mary-Kate took over DualStar when they grew into adulthood. Fashion is their lives these days, as they largely have given up acting.
While DualStar's activity has followed the ebbs and flows of the twins' careers, it remains operational. It is fair to say that DualStar has evolved into a company involved in projects far beyond its original purpose of simply producing the Olsen twins' post-Full House films. These include real estate holdings and fragrances.
Following the end of "Full House" in 1995, Mary-Kate and Ashley made their film debut in "It Takes Two" (1995). While they played separate characters "Amanda Lemmon and Alyssa Callaway), the twins switched characters at times during the film, continuing the whole idea that they were interchangeable.
Continuing with the "Two" theme, the Olsen twins later twins in "Two of a Kind." This time, they played Ashley and Mary-Kate Burke, twin sisters with opposite personalities. The show only lasted for one year, but played in reruns for years.
Over the next few years, the Olsen twins continued with similar projects. Mary-Kate received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Fox Family television series "So Little Time." Their shows during this period did not fare particularly well, but they kept getting projects because of their celebrity that did not really lead anywhere. These included a cameo appearance on "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" (2003).
In 2004, the twins tried another film, "New York Minute." It did not do well and pretty much ended the Olsen twins' acting career together. Ashley retired from acting after "New York Minute" at the ripe old age of 17. Mary-Kate has had a few roles since then, most memorably as Tara Lindman on television series "Weeds," but she appears to have given up acting for the time being as well.
There was a reason the Olsen twins made such a dramatic change in their careers in 2004: that was when they turned 18 and became co-presidents of Dualstar. They quickly moved to capitalize on their lingering fame within the teen demographic by expanding the company beyond video and film into areas like fragrances and home decor.
They Olsen twins founded luxury fashion brands The Row, Elizabeth and James, and the more affordable lines Olsenboye and StyleMint.
Running Dualstar turned into a much more lucrative endeavor than making television shows. Dualstar products got shelf space in over 3000 stores within the United States. The Olsen twins' fame extended around the world, however, and their Dualstar brand found its way into 5300 stores globally.
The Olsen twins turned to fashion design, and it has worked out fantastically well for them. Mary-Kate developed the "homeless" look, which involves oversized sunglasses and some low-rent pieces. Having gained their fame as children, the Olsen twins found it easy to sell clothes aimed at young girls.
The Olsen twins did not just focus on mass-market products, however. Their couture line, The Row, is named after Savile Row in London and has become highly respected within the business, winning numerous awards. Their success with The Row made the Olsen twins Womenswear Designers of the Year, as decided by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), for 2012 and 2015.
The Olsen twins' fashion success has freed them from the everyday concerns of ordinary mortals. According to the usual sources, their combined net worth is somewhere north of $100 million, which is more than enough reason to quit acting.
The decision by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to give up acting is understandable, given their huge success with Dualstar and The Row, among other projects. However, this has caused some grumbling among their former colleagues on "Full House," who wanted them to appear on the recent Netflix spinoff "Fuller House." John Stamos in particularly tried to get at least one of them to appear, but both demurred for one reason or another. It appears unlikely that they ever will appear on "Fuller House," but the show occasionally references them and takes subtle digs at their refusals to appear on the show. Showrunner Jeff Franklin has indicated that he would be open to the Olsen twins returning if they chose to do so.
While not as high-profile as they once were, the twins still have their moments in the spotlight. Mary-Kate, for instance, was a close friend of late actor Heath Ledger and was involved in a murky sequence of events directly after his death.
Mary-Kate later dated Olivier Sarkozy, half brother of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. They married on 27 November 2015 in New York City.
Ashley, for her part, filed a $40 million lawsuit against tabloid magazine National Enquirer for depicting her as being involved in a drug scandal, which she vehemently denies. She has dated some people, but remains single.
According to Mary-Kate in InStyle:
It’s important to control the image of your brand, something we have known since we were very young. It’s a lot more work but we’re up for it.
Unlike almost every other young celebrity these days - and, despite their enduring fame, the Olsen twins are still in their 30s - the sisters do not have social media accounts. The Olsen twins consider this a positive; according to Ashley in "The Edit":
Because we don’t dive into that whole world [of social media] and we don’t have Facebook, we’ve never been connected to our fans in that way. We’ve stayed quite sheltered in that sense.
Mary Kate says:
I have a husband, two step-kids and a life. I have to go home and cook dinner. I ride horses on the weekends. You find the thing that helps you relax and if you don’t have it, you have to look for it. Or you get burned out and then you’re not productive.
According to Bob Boyett in People magazine:
Their mother would tell me that they sometimes cried on Saturday or Sunday mornings because she would say, ‘No, it’s not a Full House day.' So I do think they loved doing it.
We have been trying to teach the media that it's 'Mary-Kate' and 'Ashley' Olsen since we were 12 years old. I guess... I guess you just learn to accept it.
Me and Ashley feel like we're totally different.
I like to go to parties where I know everyone. How are you going to have fun with people you don't know?