By: Ava Mychel Rodriguez ’24
The internet has a new obsession over an old concept: nepotism.
Branding the children or relative of prominent actors, actresses, musician, producers, or any person with a foot through Hollywood’s infamous door as “nepotism babies,” many have blamed these children as only being famous through their roots, and not by their own merit.
The official definition of nepotism, according to Merriam Webster, is “the practice among those with power or influence of favoring relatives or friends, especially by giving them jobs.”
As for nepotism babies, (or nepo-babies for short), they receive their creative jobs of all spheres by the connections their relatives and parents have in Hollywood.
One tweet by Bree on twitter, featured in The New York Times, sums up the course of what a nepotism baby’s career looks like from a birds-eye perspective.
“All nepotism babies go through several phases. 1-failed photography career, 2-failed modeling career, 3-failed music career, 4-failed acting career,” the account wrote.
As more and more fans have discovered their favorite TV shows, movies, songs, and magazines featured children of already famous people, they were in shock.
For example, Euphoria actress Maude Apatow is the daughter of director Judd Apatow and actress Leslie Mann.
Zoe Kravitz, an actress in favorites such as “High Fidelity” and The Batman is the daughter of actress Lisa Bonet and singer Lenny Kravitz.
Lily Collins, the lead actress in “Emily in Paris” is the daughter of Genesis singer Phil Collins.
Chris Pine, an actor in the reboots of both Star Trek and Wonder Woman, has both parental and grandparent connections to Hollywood.
And these are just to name a few—once you fall down the nepo baby rabbit hole, so many “successful” people seem to show their truth: that they are a nepo baby too.
Nepotism babies have even grown from just being the children of famous people; there are nepotism families too.
One prime example (almost overused) is the Kardashians. Each sibling seems to become more famous based off the successes and collaborations with the others.
A new addition to the nepo-baby-family world is the Chalamet siblings. With Timothée Chalamet’s acting skills praised by the Hollywood world, his sister Pauline is starting to make a name for herself in the industry.
Some even consider children of people with small roles in Hollywood fame as nepotism babies, such as Billie Eilish, whose mother was a voice actress, or Blake Lively, whose parents were “lesser-known” Hollywood actors.
New York Magazine’s pop culture publication, Vulture, even declared 2022 as the “year of the nepo baby,” with a guide to the Hollywood “nepo-verse.”
Within the guide, Vulture explains the origin of nepo babies. In a February 2022 tweet, a Canadian tech-support worker named Meriem Derradji fired a tweet about the Apatow families’ nepotism.
Her infamous tweet said: “Wait I just found out that the actress that plays Lexi is a nepotism baby omg (sad emoji) her mom is Leslie Mann and her dad is a movie director lol.”
Derradji’s interest in the Hollywood’s nepotism came after a viral Deadline article about a short film, called The Rightway, which is directed by Steven Spielberg’s daughter, starring Sean Penn’s son, and written by Stephen King’s son sparked a fiery internet debate.
One of the areas Derradji noticed nepotism is in the modeling industry.
“You would see models walk super-well and then there’s Kendall Jenner walking, and you’re like, Oh my gosh. It’s really bad,” she says. How bad? ‘She walks like a normal person,’” she told Vulture.
Derradji’s opinion on Kendall Jenner is a perfect example of another part of the nepotism controversy: nepo babies simply do not have what it takes to be famous in Hollywood. Many accuse them as being untalented, and just riding on the fame of their parents.
With nepotism having such a strong hold on Hollywood, it begs the question if nepotism makes fame more difficult for small, independent artists that are extremely talented, but can’t seem to find their place in Hollywood.
Although, nepotism babies are no new concept—Kate Hudson has had a successful Hollywood career on her own merit, even though her mother is Goldie Hawn.
As many criticize nepotism babies, maybe it is important to realize that these children are just taking advantage of what is available to them. While there may be more awareness on the topic of Hollywood nepotism, nepotism is so deeply rooted in not just Hollywood, but in our world.
So, as more nepo babies enter the world (like the long-awaited child of A$AP Rocky and Rihanna, who, is already deemed one), let’s remember that nepotism is no new concept, but one with roots as deep as those in Hollywood that benefit from it.