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An Oral History of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s 1993 Music Video “Brother for Sale”
After more than three decades in the spotlight, we thought it would be worthwhile to look back on a music video from some of Mary Kate and Ashley’s earliest acting work, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen – Our First Video. Not only did it help launch the Olsen twins career – we now know it was formative in the lives of their siblings, Trent and Elizabeth Olsen, as well. Please enjoy this oral history of one of the most important songs in straight-to-VHS entertainment.
Ashley Olsen: It’s not that we don’t love Trent. It’s just that we were on a meteoric rise to fame and he was standing in our way. He was always picking on us: leaving rubber spiders in our cereal, giving us wet willies, saying we reminded him of those twins from The Shining, but with less talent.
Mary Kate Olsen: With each passing day, it became increasingly clear that our only option was to unburden ourselves of our older brother.
Ashley Olsen: Naturally, we put the experience to song so that, like everything else in our lives, we could profit off of it.
Mary Kate Olsen: As moguls ourselves, we recognized this sale was highly beneficial to the buyer. Trent is what you’d call a ‘multipurpose sibling’: you can hug him, you can bug him–
Ashley Olsen: –you can remind him that your parents love you more than him because you’ve set them up with a condo in Florida and a cushy retirement package!
Mary Kate Olsen: And with the option to buy or rent, we felt like we were giving interested parties plenty of options for the purchase. We even offered pre-approved credit, with no commitment to pay until June.
Robert Thorne (Entertainment lawyer, founder of Dualstar Media): From the get-go, I had my reservations about this deal, and I was very upfront about this with the girls. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 50 cents is a ridiculously low price for a brother. There was so much potential for higher revenue! I begged Mary Kate and Ashley to just donate their brother to charity – at least then we could get a tax write-off! But they wouldn’t hear of it. (Sighs.) I suppose some level of stubbornness is to be expected when you’re working for a pair of six-year-olds.
Don Sanchez (LAPD): I’ve been on this beat a long time, and I’ve seen some real freaky things. So when I received a tip about a boy for sale in a wealthy Los Angeles neighborhood, I responded to the call immediately. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled not onto a crime scene, but the set of a music video for those adorable twins from Full House. Although between us, I don’t think it’s accurate to describe the monotone, non-emotive performance I witnessed as “singing.”
Elizabeth Olsen (sister): Most people don’t realize it, but Trent wasn’t the only sibling my sisters wanted to auction off. Once it became clear the sale was taking longer than expected, they offered to throw me into the mix as well—two for the price of one, if you will.
Ashley Olsen: Of course we would have adjusted the sales price to include Elizabeth. Trust me, we have never subscribed to a “two for the price of one” model in any of our business dealings.
Mary Kate Olsen: And for the record, selling Lizzie would have been purely a business decision, and not an all because we felt threatened by her talent. (Mary Kate and Ashley exchange looks.)
Elizabeth Olsen: That was the moment I knew I had to distance myself from my sisters, not only emotionally, but professionally as well. People constantly ask me how I am able to deliver such strong performances in shows like WandaVision, and the truth is, I make all of my acting choices by asking myself, “What is the exact opposite emotion my sisters would express in this scene?”
Don Sanchez: After I realized no crime had been committed, I let the girls off with a warning and a lollipop. I tried to give one to the younger sibling as well, but before she could accept it, the twins told her to “turn her tiny frame about and B-U-T-T out.” It was kinda rude, actually.
Ashley Olsen: I’m sorry, but we are the cute ones.
Mary Kate Olsen: She’s just our sister.
Trent Olsen (brother, object of sale): Listen, I don’t hold a grudge. Do I ever wish the twins had gone through with the sale, so I could have changed my name and avoided all future affiliation? Sure. Do I think about how different my life would have been if my parents had let me take that role in Tales of the Crypt instead of exclusively focusing on my sisters’ careers? Of course, every day of my life. But at the end of the day, I’m happy with the way my life has turned out. I don’t need a collective net worth of $500 million, or even financial compensation of any kind for the role I played in my sisters’ home video empire. I’m happy with the way my life turned out. Really, really happy. (Weeps.)
Whenever I need a laugh, I read short stories by Simon Rich.