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Image / Agenda / Image Writes

Nepotism babies have been trending online recently, but why are we still surprised?


By Sarah Gill
14th May 2022

@maudeapatow

Nepotism babies have been trending online recently, but why are we still surprised?

As the next generation discovers that half of their favourite celebs found fame with the help of family, we’re reminded of just how prevalent nepotism is in Hollywood.

Today, #nepotismbaby has 33.8 million views on TikTok and counting. Scrolling through the many videos, familiar images of Jane Fonda, Kate Hudson, and Dakota Johnson flash across the screen. All well-known for the family ties that helped them break into the industry, these celebrities are commonly referred to as ‘nepotism babies’.

If you’re unfamiliar, ‘nepo babies’ refer to children of wealth that grew up with certain privileges that were not afforded to the average Joe. Famous relatives, high-powered contacts, a recognisable name — the list goes on. So, that pretty much makes up half of Hollywood then.

While we may like to believe that it’s not all about who you know, but what you can bring to the table, breaking the industry’s class ceiling and making it as an A-lister seems to have little to do with meritocracy.

Clearly, nepotism is not a new concept. It can be seen at play in a number of different contexts, from political parties to corporate boardrooms. However, ‘nepotism babies’ are having something of a revival in the public consciousness of late with the realisation that Euphoria’s Lexie didn’t quite pull herself up by the bootstraps.

While younger fans thought of Maude Apatow as something of an indie, self-made actress, the realisation that her parents, Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow are a Hollywood power couple sparked quite the renewed interest the power of nepotism.

Speaking to USA Today back in 2012, Blockers star Leslie Mann describes her daughter’s journey to acting alongside her mother, on the set of her father’s movie. “Maude discovered how to act this time,” she says in reference to The is 40. “It was really fun watching her do that. It was amazing. I cried.”

It goes without saying that Maude Apatow is immeasurably talented and has doubtlessly worked hard to get to where she is today, but the fact of the matter is that many promising young actresses don’t get the opportunity to learn on the job.

nepotism

From the realisation that model and Maid breakout star Margaret Qualley is the daughter of Andie MacDowell to zeroing in on Zoë Kravitz’s all-star family, Gen-Z pointed to more and more examples of nepotism at play, breeding quite the sense of disillusionment with Hollywood.

When we watch interviews with these stars, filled with optimistic naivety, we endeavour to up their words in the hopes that some of their luck might brush off on us. Advised to ‘reach for the stars’ and ‘follow your dreams’ it doesn’t pack the same punch when you realise that we don’t all have the same tools to break into these creative industries.

Whether it’s stars that have surpassed their parents’ level of stardom, or erasing an indelible connection to fame in the hopes of ‘making it on your own’, there is still an immense privilege at play that must be recognised.

Take Kendall Jenner, for example. The Kardashians’ rise to such high levels of notoriety is a highly contentious point of discussion, but Kendall’s recent comments on her success as a model opened quite the conversation.

nepotism

In a reunion episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, the model said that she did everything she was supposed to do to get the position she’s in now. “I went to every single casting and ran all over not only New York City, but all over Europe trying to get a job and make my way,” she added, “I think it’s just a perception that people have, that I just was like, ‘Give it to me!’ and I had it… It definitely was not that.”

These quotes come shortly after Ms Jenner opted to bow out of walking in New York Fashion Week 2018 in favour of a girls’ weekend with her fellow nepo babies, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid and Kaia Gerber.

Taking the opposite route, Nicholas Cage was born into the multi-Oscar award winning Coppola clan, but opted to change his name and dodge the shadow of his family’s fame so that he could prove himself on his own.

Let’s make one thing very clear: being born into a famous family and using this to your advantage does not erase true talent. There is nothing remotely immoral about being a ‘nepo baby’, but in instances where the inherent privilege of the circumstances are not acknowledged, it begins to jar.

While many argue that they have to work twice as hard to avoid being defined by the success of their family, it does not really compare to the many people forced to ignore their creative tendencies in order to make ends meet.

When you’re dealt a good hand, it only makes sense to play it to your advantage, but it often seems as though Hollywood is a closed playing field. To make movies, television and art that is worth anything, diverse voices and skills are required. But that is impossible to achieve when the industry is so inaccessible.

Kravitz imagery via Getty Images. Jenner imagery via Instagram.