After Vulture and New York Magazine published this week exhaustive guide to Hollywood’s universe of “nepo babies”—celebrities with famous parents or siblings who have benefited from their familial connections—some stars are speaking out against the story and the term, which has gained popularity this year on social media.
O’Shea Jackson Jr.—who played his father, rapper and actor Ice Cube, in the movie Straight Outta Compton—tweeted he “had to get my ass up and make it work” to earn the role, saying “once the door was opened it was up to me to walk through it and thrive.”
Model Lottie Moss, sister to supermodel Kate Moss, said she’s “so sick of people blaming nepotism for why they aren’t rich and famous or successful,” though she acknowledged “people who come from famous families are getting a leg up.”
Singer Lily Allen, who is the daughter of a producer and actor, tweeted “the nepo babies y’all should be worrying about are the ones working for legal firms, the ones working for banks, and the ones working in politics.”
Actress Eve Houston, the daughter of singer Bono, joked she was “actually pretty devastated I’m not featured in the nepo baby article like haven’t they seen my hit show bad sisters”—before learning she what included in the piece.
Though the concept of nepotism in Hollywood and other industries isn’t new, the term “nepo baby” gained popularity earlier this year on TikTok, when users discussed and discovered that some of their favorite stars had familial connections. The hashtag #nepobaby has over 117 million views on the app. Just days after being published, the New York Magazine stories became some of the publication’s most-read pieces of all of 2022. The story and its guide included everyone from Hollywood royalty and A-listers like Laura Dern and Robert Downey Jr. to up-and-comers like Michael Gandolfini and Margaret Qualley.
As the phrase gained popularity, some “nepo baby” stars were asked to answer for their claims to fame in interviews. Emily In Paris star Lily Collins, who is the daughter of singer Phil Collins, told VogueFrance last month “it was out of the question that people would think that I use a free pass thanks to my name. I’m proud of my dad, but I wanted to be me, not just his daughter. For that, I was ready to wait to break through.” Actress Maude Apatow, daughter of actress Leslie Mann and director Judd Apatow, said in September she felt “sad” being labeled a “nepo baby.” “I obviously understand that I’m in such a lucky position. A lot of people [in a similar position] have proven themselves over the years, so I’ve got to keep going and make good work,” she said. Model and actress Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp and model Vanessa Paradis, faced backlash from the fashion world and beyond last month when she said that “if somebody’s mom or dad is a doctor, and then the kid becomes a doctor, you’re not going to be like, ‘Well, you’re only a doctor because your parent is a doctor.’ It’s like, ‘No, I went to medical school and trained.’” Those hitting back at her included Ireland Baldwin, the daughter of Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger. “I wouldn’t be where I am, I wouldn’t have gotten where I am and been able to do what I can do if it weren’t for my parents,” the younger Baldwin said. “I think really where you go wrong is denying that.”
Some readers have labeled stars’ backlash to the piece as tone-deaf, for not recognizing the real weight that carry connections in such a subjective industry, like acting and singing. Others have called for similar charts to be made in other industries where connections carry such heavy weight in creating opportunities, like journalism.
How a Nepo Baby Is Born (vulture)