The popularity of nepotism babies: social media users question fairness in the entertainment industry

By Riley Dauber

Opinion Editor

        When watching TV or a movie, a viewer is tempted to look up what actors are in that particular project. Some may be familiar favorites or pop culture icons, while others are up-and-comers.

However, due to the increased focus on nepotism babies, viewers are noticing that more and more actors are related to a famous person in the entertainment industry.

Social media and a recent New York Magazine article  also fueled conversations about nepotism.

The Dec. 19, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023 cover package is titled “She Has Her Mother’s Eyes. And Agent.” Eight celebrities are featured on the cover, with their faces photoshopped onto baby bodies: John David Washington, Dakota Johnson, Jack Quaid, Maya Hawke, Maude Apatow, Lily-Rose Depp, Ben Platt, and Zoe Kravitz.

Each celebrity on the cover is related to a person in the entertainment industry, therefore making them nepotism babies, or the shortened and more popular term “nepo baby.”

The term “nepo baby” grew in popularity on social media. According to a Net-a-Porter interview with Apatow, the daughter of actress Leslie Mann and director Judd Apatow, “Entire subsections of Twitter and TikTok are dedicated to ‘outing’ children of celebrities, particularly in Hollywood.”

Many users on the sites criticize the number of nepotism babies in the industry, claiming that they are using their connections to gain roles or opportunities. Others point out that these actors may hinder other young up-and-comers’ chances of entering the entertainment business.

However, nepotism babies have always existed in the industry, and chances are, the celebrity in question is a talented actor. Chalking up their fame to famous parents overlooks their skills and work ethic.

New York Magazine’s culture editor Gazelle Emami recognizes that this trend is “nothing new.” Many older celebrities who have maintained successful careers in Hollywood are just another generation of nepotism babies. Jamie Lee Curtis, Drew Barrymore, Kate Hudson, and Nicholas Cage are a few examples.

Looking at the aforementioned list, one can see that former nepotism babies are critically acclaimed actors and household names. From Golden Globes to talk shows, the older generation of nepotism babies are famous because of their acting chops and charm.

Younger nepotism babies tend to face more scrunity on social media.

Actor and singer Platt is most famous for his Tony-winning role as the titular character in the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen.” He is also the son of producer Marc Platt, who has produced over 40 films.

When it came time to adapt the musical for the screen in 2021, social media users criticized the casting of Platt in the lead role.

Although Platt had originated the role on Broadway, many fans argued that he was now too old, and believed he was cast because his father was a producer on the project.

This example is one reason why many social media users criticize nepotism babies; they believe Platt utilized his familial connections to receive a role he was not right for or did not deserve.

While Platt is undeniably talented, he was simply not right for the role in the film due to the character’s age. But thanks to his Broadway experience and familial connections, he was cast.

Casting a younger, equally talented actor would have provided a role for a new up-and-comer instead of relying on Platt.

This example highlights the negative side of nepotism babies. His performance was one of the main faults with the film, so in this case, the casting of a nepotism baby poorly affected the final product.

Other nepotism babies, like Apatow, who plays Lexi in “Euphoria,” and Hawke, who plays Robin in “Stranger Things,” received high praise for their performances. When right for the role, nepotism babies deliver.

While it is impressive to see a newcomer cast in a role, a talented nepotism baby should not face criticism just for receiving a role they most likely auditioned for.

Model Depp, the daughter of actor Johnny Depp and singer Vanessa Paradis, said in an interview with Elle: “The internet cares a lot more about who your family is than the people who are casting you in things. 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.”

Many social media users are missing the key players in the casting process. Although nepotism babies may have the upper hand thanks to a family name or connection, they still need to deliver on the talent end.

While it seems nepotism babies are suddenly taking over the entertainment industry, one cannot deny the generations of nepotism babies that not only came before, but the fact that many nepotism babies are successful and talented actors.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Model Lily-Rose Depp, the daughter of actor Johnny Depp, has spoken up about her family connections in recent interviews.

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