Nepo Babies Shouldn't Deny Or Hide Their Privilege—How Hollywood’s Favoritism Puts Up-And-Coming Stars At A Disadvantage
By now, you’ve probably read – or heard – of Vulture’s “The Year of the Nepo Baby,” the latest hit-piece on Hollywood’s infamous circle of celebrities and their beloved children.
Hollywood is riddled with “nepo babies,” in fact, half of the entertainment industry (possibly more) is composed of celebrities with famous moms and dads. Turn on any popular series today, and you’re almost guaranteed to see a nepo baby – from Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke, to The Boys’ Jack Quaid, or Euphoria's Maude Apatow – yeah, I’m not going to continue listing any more, since there are far too many of them.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a child of a celebrity, I do have an issue with them downplaying their privilege – especially when “normal” people are working overtime to book just one gig. There’s no doubt many of these nepo babies are talented, though. Zoë Kravitz (daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet), for example, is a great actress and model, but there’s no denying that Zoë's household name helped her career.
Most Don't Have the Privilege of Having Rich and Successful Parents
In November 2022, Lily-Rose Depp faced backlash for her response when asked about being a nepo baby. "People are going to have preconceived ideas about you or how you got there, and I can definitely say that nothing is going to get you the part except for being right for the part,” she explained. Then, she added: “Maybe you get your foot in the door, but you still just have your foot in the door. There's a lot of work that comes after that.”
Her statement fueled an onslaught of criticism from models and actresses who, unlike Lily-Rose, did not have their foot in the door as easily. Many of them were young and had to struggle their way through their careers. They didn’t have the luxury of going to their mom or dad when it came to their expensive New York City rent or their modeling classes. If something went awry, all they had was themselves to fall back on.
"yes, i get the whole 'i'm here and i work hard for it', but i would really love to see if you would have lasted thru the first 5 years of my career,” wrote model Vittoria Ceretti in response to Lily-Rose's comments. She continued, "not only being rejected because i know you have an experience with it and you can tell me your sad little story about it (even if at the end of the day you can still always go cry on your dad's couch in your villa in Malibu), but how about not being able to pay for your flight back home to your family?" [sic]
Unlike Lily-Rose, there are others in the entertainment industry who are willing to acknowledge their privilege. Recently, Lourdes Leon, Madonna's daughter, had an interview with The Cut in which she talked about her “nepo” status. "I want to feel like I deserve things and not just like I’ve been given things,” Lourdes said. “And, yes, there’s undeniable privilege that I’d be stupid to not realize... Nepotism babies are pretty awful usually, and my mom and my father raised me to be so much smarter than that.”
What Goes On Behind-the-Scenes
Before any actor, actress, or model is selected for a role, there are many layers of approval. Their audition tapes not only have to impress the casting director, but there are also the producers, directors, and studio executives to worry about. Hypothetically speaking, a nepo baby may have more access to these executives as opposed to a new face in the industry.
When Elizabeth Olsen was asked about nepotism, she recalled grappling with the concept as a 10 year old, but was not familiar with the term yet. "I guess I understood what nepotism was like inherently as a 10 year old. I don’t know if I knew the word," the Avengers actress told Glamour in 2021. She added, "But there is some sort of association of not earning something that I think bothered me." Personally, I don’t doubt that Elizabeth had to work hard to earn her roles in megahit films.
But Hollywood casting director Danielle Demchick believes Elizabeth did have an advantage. "Elizabeth Olsen didn't just magically end up in a casting room, she obviously had family connections," Demchick said. "But I think we can all look at her career and say, she is a great actor, and should be working."
The solution to this conundrum seems like an impossible feat. Demchick thinks that this imbalance of privileged babies can possibly be solved if there were efforts to better diversify the decision makers. Perhaps we need to focus less on the actors and actresses with prominent parents, and instead, shift the center of attention to the Hollywood executives who are stuck in their old ways of favoring their existing connections and tight-knit circle of friends.
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