We’ve all heard the phrase “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” when it comes to finding work, but for Hollywood’s nepotism kids, it really is. It seems that a new generation is discovering that their favorite actors are the children of former Hollywood stars, and it has caused strong feelings. With the TikTok hashtag garnering 9.6 million views and the conversation coming to the fore (pun intended!) in pop culture conversations, could this be a reckoning for some celebs or just more pressure to get popular?
Before we delve deeper into the world of famous Hollywood families, what exactly is nepotism a child? Charm magazine defines ‘nepotism babies’ or ‘nepo babies’ as ‘celebrity children who follow in their parents’ (trodden) footsteps and pursue careers in the limelight’.
Since then, however, the term has become more complex. A Reddit thread comment on the r/Deuxmois sub-reddit explains that there are three “levels” of child nepotism. There are those who are “children of wealth” which is not technically a patronage, but they have enough money to try to fail in show business even if they don’t have connections.
Then there are the “child of working artists” (examples include Kate Winslet or Will Ferrell) who have minimal connections – enough to gain exposure – even though their “industry pull” and “financial resources” are “limited” . Finally, there are the big nepotist kids: the “kids of the rich entertainment industry” who have parents with serious money and industry. Their “lineage” provides an automatic selling point for projects, as children do not come with built-in publicity due to their parents’ fame.
There are a seemingly endless number of actors that Gen-Z loves who have since found themselves to be children of nepotism, including Zoë Kravitz, Dakota Johnson, Timothée Chalamet, Lily Rose Depp, Maya Hawke, Sofia Coppola, and Maude Apatow. AND New York Times the article claims that this is simply how “power works in Hollywood”, but it’s news to this generation that their favorite celebrities have “benefited from a system that is not strictly meritocratic”.
This would make sense as the names George Clooney, Liza Minelli, Drew Barrymore and Gwyneth Paltrow are also children of nepotism. Gen-Zs seem to have either forgotten this fact or were completely unaware of their privilege.
Most interesting, however, is the range of opinions that people have about children’s nepotism: from ridicule to surprise, envy and admiration. Some people are jealous of the freedom and opportunities they have had since then one Twitter user put it this way: “All children of nepotism go through several stages. 1 Unsuccessful photography career 2 Unsuccessful modeling career 3 Unsuccessful music career 4 Unsuccessful acting career” which is obviously not possible for the vast majority of people who need to earn.
Some people just criticize that Hollywood no longer has any new faces to showcase talent. Most people seem to be looking for children for nepotism to usurp their privileges. ELLE magazine writes that “privilege is impossible to eradicate… Like any privilege, its presence doesn’t mean you don’t work hard or face other challenges, but it does mean your life is easier than the lives of those who don’t have the same privilege.”
The nepotism babies that have gone viral on the internet and been dubbed the “favorite” babies are usually the ones who actually have talent and privilege of their own. For example, Euphoria actress Maude Apatow (daughter of actress Leslie Mann and filmmaker Judd Apatow) was a fan favorite in the show’s second season, but later said in an interview, after being criticized for not giving birth, that she would spend “her whole life trying to prove herself as an individual… It’s really important for me to show that I work really hard because I do. I want to be an individual.”
On the other hand, you have huge Hollywood stars like Jamie Lee Curtis (daughter of Psycho Janet Leigh), who owns her privilege as a nepotistic child and doesn’t shy away from it. In an interview printed in The New Yorkershe said “Never really i’ve worked hard a day in my life… i’ll never pretend i just got it myself like i’m just a little girl from nowhere getting it. I obviously had a leg up.” She added that being a nepotistic child means “you get this incredible access, you get opportunities to see things that other people don’t, you get easy access wherever you are.”
Connections are your bread and butter to make it in Hollywood: they are “more valuable than having money.” If you know a director who can cast you in a film, or a fellow actor who can put in a good word for you, then you’ve got your big break without traipsing around London or New York going to audition after audition after audition. Of course, there are plenty of nepotism babies who are talented actors (hence the “good” or “popular” kids), such as Dakota Johnson, who has a People’s Choice Award, and Timothée Chalamet, who has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award .
TikTok is the platform that talks the most about baby nepotism, with some videos explaining their natural privilege of having an informal showbiz education from their parents and their endless chances to try and fail, while others pitted celebrities against each other for what they do. have to tell about their nepotistic privileges like Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie. Many of the videos are just aesthetic adaptations of the aforementioned “favorite” babies, but some are very critical of them with titles like “nepotism contributes to nothing but mediocrity” and the blame falls on Western society itself.
It seems the crux of the matter is not just that these stars are born into rich and privileged families in the industry, but rather whether or not they possess that advantage. Those who admit that they are privileged to be successful because of their background, and who are still talented, are highly respected by the audience.
But those who pretend to make it despite the support provided by their families, and who decry their privilege vociferously, seem to risk being added to the ever-growing list of ‘cancelled’ celebrities. Could this be a cautionary tale for future generations of nepotistic children like Gigi Hadid or Rihanna’s children? Or is it a newfound admiration for Hollywood’s already established nepotistic base? We may never find out, but one thing’s for sure: being a nepotistic kid sure would make it easier to be a drama student!