Are nepo babies the future of hollywood?

Tanya Ganesh and Ela Jain

Photo courtesy of creative commons

Nepotism babies have taken the internet by storm. With a recent New York magazine article detailing who, exactly, in the entertainment industry found major success with the help of their well-connected parents, this prevalence of these individuals has been made abundantly clear.

A nepotism baby, or “nepo-baby,” is a child who has found success using the already well-established title of their parents, and often their connections, to make bigger strides in the entertainment industry. The term was popularized on Twitter after it was discovered that Euphoria star Maude Apatow was not a self-made actress but the daughter of iconic director Judd Apatow and actress Leslie Mann. Since then, the slang term has exploded in use, and with it, more and more nepo babies are being revealed for their privileged parents and ready-made connections. 

Nepotism babies have existed in Hollywood for as long as it has been around. The daughter of Charlie Chaplin, beloved movie star of the 1920s and 1930s, is a Golden Globe nominated actress. She then gave birth to Game of Thrones star Oona Chaplin, proving the chains of nepotism can be traced back to the beginning of film. 

From Stranger Things’s Maya Hawke, daughter of Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, to Emily in Paris’s Lily Collins, daughter of musician Phil Collins, it seems that every popular television show or film has some sort of nepotism connection baked inside, causing many to feel that the industry is closing its doors to new talent. 

SNL has been recently outed as a hirer of nepotism babies, despite the reputation they’ve earned as an honest comedy show that takes the time to scour new talent. Robert Downey Jr., nephew of SNL writer Jim Downey, was an actor on the show for a season, known throughout SNL fans as one of the poorest casting choices the show has ever made. Most recently, sons of two SNL alum, Martin Herlihy and John Higgins, are now members of SNL group Please Don’t Destroy

It is not as if being a nepo baby is inherently a bad thing. Plenty of incredibly talented actors and actresses have come from nepotism, like Laura Dern, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, and Jamie Lee Curtis. However, what’s irritating about nepo babies, and what is fueling our fascination with them, is the way in which they choose to react or address the privilege they garner. 

Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp, caused outrage when she spoke on nepo babies, saying to Elle, “It’s weird to me to reduce somebody to the idea that they’re only there because it’s a generational thing…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.” This, of course, caused many to be upset with her, as it’s an opinion steeped in privilege. This idea overlooks the difficulty of getting a foot in the door for a non-famous person. 

The concept of nepotism in the Hollywood industry makes us ask questions about what its future holds. Is the scavenge for new talent over? Do others have a chance to make it in the industry, or are all the spots bound to be filled by prior connections? The Hollywood industry has become a toxic web of ancestral success, making it hard for others to weave through the preset strings and ties. Today, “discovering” nepo babies has become the norm, it is the people that got in this position from nothing that are truly rare.