Whatever Happened to the Little Girl From ‘Love Actually’?
Every December, Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You" rises off the ice and skates back into heavy rotation as we get into the holiday spirit. Mimi's take will always reign supreme, but countless people have covered the festive standard over the years. Other than Carey's, of course, few attempts will ever be as iconic as the one Olivia Olson delivers in Love Actually.
At the young age of 10, Olson played the role of Joanna in the beloved Christmas ensemble rom-com. Her defining moment in the film involves performing the bop with the equally fresh-faced Thomas Sangster who, as his character Sam, plays along on the drums.
Suffice to say that the cover (which you can revisit it below) really goes down in history as an impressive feat of dazzling holiday cheer.
But what has the former child star been up to since making her bold debut singing what is possibly the most recognizable Christmas anthem of all time? Read on to find out where Olivia Olson is today...
Love Actually Was Olson's Big Break
Seven years after landing the role, Olson told Entertainment Weekly that Love Actually was one of her first big auditions. She sang "Fallin'" by Alicia Keys and didn't hear back for "a month or two," she recalled. After a pretty intensive audition process, she booked the role.
"I started screaming so loud that some guy in the parking lot thought that my dad was trying to kidnap me or something," she explained of the moment she found out she got the part. "I was like, 'No, no, no! I’m just really excited!'”
Was it hard for her to cover a song popularized by a massive-voiced superstar? The answer is seemingly yes, but not for the reason you'd expect. Olson told EW that the producers were worried her first take was simply too good to be believable for a 10-year-old.
"They just pretty much told me to sing it more straight, not do as many runs and trills," she explained. The talented singer finalized the recording process in about 45 minutes. We all know how the rest went down.
She Reunited With a Love Actually Co-Star for a Cartoon
After Love Actually premiered, Olson landed a couple bit parts on TV, including a minor role in Jamie Lynn Spears' Zoey 101. However, her next notable casting was a voice acting gig on the Disney Channel.
Starting in 2008, Olson lent her voice to Vanessa Doofenshmirtz on Phineas and Ferb. She worked alongside a talented cast including the likes of Ashley Tisdale and Vincent Martella.
The show also made for a mini Love Actually reunion as Sangster (Joanna's drumming partner Sam) played the role of Ferb.
“He records over in England, so I haven’t seen him since the premiere of Love Actually,” Olson explained to EW of her two-time co-star. “I talk to him on the phone, though.”
Olson was featured on the show until 2015, according to IMDb. The singer also lent her voice to several songs for the show's soundtracks, many of which are still available on Spotify.
More Voice-Over Work Followed
Working on Phineas and Ferb opened doors into the world of voice acting for Olson. At the height of the Twilight craze in 2010, the then-teenage star became the voice behind Marceline the Vampire Queen on Cartoon Network's Adventure Time, which she worked on through 2018.
Olson's real-life dad Martin Olson voiced a character on the show, too. (Fun fact: He was also a writer on Phineas and Ferb, meaning they've worked together on a variety of projects. Speaking of, they collaborated on a book inspired by the show, which dropped in 2015 and is still available on Amazon. Talk about a solid working relationship.)
Olson landed several other notable voice acting roles over the years. For example, Olson revisited her role as Phineas and Ferb's Vanessa in a spin-off called Milo Murphy's Law.
However, possibly her most exciting but brief gig was playing Blisstina Utonium, Bliss for short, alongsideBlossom, Bubbles and Buttercup on The Powerpuff Girls.
Then Along Came Red Nose Day Actually...
No successful movie is truly complete until it gets a sequel, and Love Actually got one in 2017. The film was called Red Nose Day Actually and featured appearances from a variety of the original cast.
That very much included Olson back in her role as Joanna. Who doesn't love a hearty dose of nostalgia and a chance at a second happy ending?
...And a New Focus on Music
While Olson had no problem carving out a successful career as a voice actor over the years, she told EW back in 2009 that music was her truest passion. She went as far as listing Beyoncé's meteoric career as an inspiration.
Olson performed music for many of her acting gigs, but she also recorded her own original songs. An album called Nowhere Land arrived in 2018, and a new single called "Crows" dropped in the fall of 2021.
Olson Made Her Grande Stage Return on X Factor: Celebrity
Since music has played such an important role in her career over the years, Olson was an obvious contender for The X Factor: Celebrity in 2019. She tried out for the celebrity version of the popular singing competition and landed a spot on the cast, placing alongside the likes of Glee's Kevin McHale and Ricki Lake.
Olson made it through the auditions singing Khalid's "Location" and "Come Together" by The Beatles but was cut in one of the earliest episodes. At least she got a chance to show off her incredible voice, though!