Mary-Kate Olsen is an American actor, fashion designer, author, businesswoman, producer, and equestrian. Along with her twin sister Ashley Olsen, she forms the multi-talented sister duo who has carved a niche in the world of entertainment and fashion. Coming from a non-showbiz background, the twin sisters remained undeterred while facing many challenges, and went on to establish themselves in showbiz. In fact, the talented sisters started off even before celebrating their first birthday. When they were nine months old, the Olsen sisters’ career as actors started, as they shared the role of ‘Michelle Tanner’ on the ‘ABC’ sitcom ‘Full House.’ Their careers evolved as they grew up. They even started a limited liability company called ‘Dualstar’ which produced a long string of TV movies and direct-to-video releases featuring the girls. Having made their mark in acting, they chose to work on their first love, fashion. Today, the sisters are proud owners and founders of the luxury fashion brands, ‘The Row’ and ‘Elizabeth and James.’ They are also the owners and founders of the more affordable lines, ‘Olsenboye’ and ‘StyleMint.’ With their entrepreneurial skills, they have taken their company to newer heights. In 2007, ‘Forbes’ jointly ranked the twins as the eleventh-richest women in entertainment, with an estimated combined net worth of $100 million.
Childhood & Early Life
Mary-Kate Olsen was born on June 13, 1986, in Sherman Oaks, California, to Jarnette ‘Jarnie’ Olsen and David ‘Dave’ Olsen. While her mother was a personal manager, her father worked as a real estate developer and mortgage banker. She has a twin sister, Ashley, an older brother Trent, and a younger sister Elizabeth Olsen.
Her parents got divorced and her father remarried; she has two half-siblings from her father’s second marriage.
She studied at ‘Campbell Hall School’ in Los Angeles and later attended New York University’s ‘Gallatin School of Individualized Study’ with her sister Ashley.
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When she was nine months old, Mary-Kate Olsen’s career as an actor started. Together with her twin sister, she shared the role of ‘Michelle Tanner’ on the ‘ABC’ sitcom ‘Full House.’ The twin sisters portrayed the role from 1987 to 1995.
In the early-1990s, along with her twin sister, she started a limited liability company called ‘Dualstar’ which produced a long string of TV movies and direct-to-video releases featuring the girls. The company was basically created to produce Mary-Kate and Ashley-branded products.
While acting in television movies and direct-to-video films, the Olsen sisters made their big screen debut in 1995 in the feature film ‘It Takes Two.’ Two years later, they returned to television as guests in an episode of the famous sitcom ‘Sister, Sister,’ opposite rival twin actors Tia and Tamera Mowry.
Following their stint in ‘Full House,’ the Olsen sisters starred in two other sitcoms, namely ‘Two of a Kind’ and ‘So Little Time.’ Both the shows ran for one season. They even voiced the lead characters in the animated series ‘Mary-Kate and Ashley in Action!’
In 2004, the Olsen twins took direct control of ‘Dualstar,’ becoming joint-CEOs and presidents of the company. At the time, the company sold its merchandise in over 3,000 stores in America and 5,300 stores worldwide.
In 2006, Mary-Kate Olsen made her first solo appearance as ‘Molly Spence’ in a movie titled ‘Factory Girl.’ Following ‘Factory Girl,’ Olsen was next seen in the 2008 film ‘The Wackness.’ The same year, she also made a guest appearance on the ‘ABC’ comedy ‘Samantha Who?’
In 2011, Olsen made her final acting appearance in the motion picture adaptation of Alex Flinn’s novel ‘Beastly.’ Before appearing in the movie, the sisters had indicated that their interest lies in fashion. The twins realized that their real calling lay in fashion and hence officially retired from acting.
Not many know that while pursuing a career in acting, the Olsen twins had simultaneously worked on their fashion career. In fact, early in their career, they had started a clothing line in ‘Walmart’ stores across America for girls aged 4 to 14 as well as a beauty line called ‘Mary-Kate and Ashley: Real Fashion for Real Girls.’
Currently, the twin sisters head a designer fashion label called ‘The Row’ as well as retail collections, namely ‘Elizabeth and James,’ ‘Olsenboye,’ and ‘StyleMint,’ all of which they co-founded. They are also the creative directors of ‘Superga.’ In spring 2013, Mary-Kate and Ashley released a perfume brand called ‘Elizabeth and James.’
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Acting and fashion apart, the Olsen twins have extended their artistic interest to writing as well. Together, they have co-authored a book titled ‘Influence,’ featuring interviews with fashion designers who have inspired the twins’ fashion house.
In the field of acting, Mary-Kate Olsen’s most illustrious work came in the popular ‘ABC’ sitcom ‘Full House’ wherein she and her twin shared the role of ‘Michelle Tanner.’ They starred in the series from 1987 to 1995, and even won several awards for their portrayal of ‘Michelle Tanner.’
As fashion designers, the twin sisters’ most successful achievement came when they co-founded their luxury brands, ‘The Row’ and ‘Elizabeth and James.’ The duo also came up with more affordable lines of fashion under the brands, ‘Olsenboye’ and ‘StyleMint.’
Awards & Achievements
The Olsen twins’ acting in ‘Full House’ won them numerous awards, including the ‘Young Artists Award’ under the ‘Best Young Actress Under Five Years of Age’ category in 1989. They also won the award under the categories; ‘Outstanding Performance by an Actress Under Nine Years of Age’ in 1990 and ‘Exceptional Performance by an Actress Under Ten Years of Age’ in 1992.
In 1994, they won the ‘Best Youth Actress’ award at ‘Youth Artists Awards’ for ‘Double, Double, Toil and Trouble.’
In 1996 and 1999, the twins won ‘Kids’ Choice Award’ for ‘Favourite Movie Actress’ and ‘Favourite TV Actress’ respectively for ‘It Takes Two.’
In 2012, the sisters won the ‘CFDA Fashion Award’ and ‘WSJ’ magazine’s ‘Innovator of The Year Award.’ The duo won the ‘CFDA Fashion Award’ in 2015, 2018, and 2019.
Personal Life & Legacy
Mary-Kate Olsen dated several renowned celebrities, such as David Katzenberg, photographer Maxwell Snow and artist Nate Lowman. In 2012, she started dating Olivier Sarkozy, half-brother of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The two got engaged in 2014.
Olsen and Sarkozy tied the knot on November 27, 2015, at a private residence in New York City.
She is an established horse rider and has participated in the 2016 ‘American Gold Cup’ at upstate New York.
In mid-2004, Olsen announced that she is undergoing treatment for anorexia nervosa. In November 2007, she was hospitalized after suffering from a kidney infection.
The Olsen twins have constantly supported charitable organizations and NGOs. In 2004, they were in the news for signing a pledge to grant the women workers in Bangladesh full maternity leave. These workers were working for their fashion line. ‘The National Labor Committee’ praised the twins for their commitment to workers’ rights.
In 2011, Mary-Kate and Ashley designed an ‘Olsenboye Change Purse’ and donated the money to ‘Pennies From Heaven.’ The same year, they also teamed up with ‘TOMS Shoes’ to design footwear for kids without shoes in more than 20 countries.
The Olsen sisters’ combined net worth is estimated to be around $400 million.