Thursday, February 2, 2023

'Nepo Babies' spark debate over denial and privilege

January 18, 2023
Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

Following a tweet that identified “Euphoria” actress Maude Apatow as the daughter of actress Leslie Mann and film director Judd Apatow, the internet has been a burst of activity.

Social media users rushed to uncover the industry connections of more "nepotism babies" – or children of already successful parents.

“I actually found out some of these (people) were nepo babies because I became fans of them,” journalism sophomore Shea Paulis said. “Specifically, Timothee Chalamet when he was in ‘Little Women’ ... that made sense, because it felt like (he) became really popular out of nowhere.” 

Paulis said she felt that most of the older, “classic” celebrities took their time to break into the industry. In contrast, she said, a lot of nepo babies seem to start out in big roles rather than supporting ones. 

Much of the fascination with nepo babies stems from debate over whether they deserve their success or not.

A particularly controversial case is Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of “Pirates of the Caribbean” actor Johnny Depp and French model Vanessa Paradis. Depp is an actress and runway model who became one of the youngest ambassadors of Chanel at the age of sixteen.

In the industry of female fashion modeling, notorious for its emphasis on height, Depp’s height of 5"3 raises questions from some about how she reached her success. Environmental studies and sustainability sophomore Maggie Dobry said she doesn’t think Depp would have been given the same opportunity without her parent's connections.

“Especially in the modeling industry, I’ve heard hundreds of stories where people get turned away, because they’re not skinny enough or they’re not tall enough,” Dobry said. 

However, Dobry noted that nepo babies shouldn’t be discredited just because of their background.

“You can’t choose who your parents are,” Dobry said. “I think (their success) is well deserved … when it comes down to it, if they weren’t good at what they do, they probably wouldn’t still be in the industry.” 

Recently, a slew of celebrities have spoken about nepotism, including many denying its impact.

Actress Kate Hudson said she sees nepotism outside of Hollywood more frequently. Gwyneth Paltrow said nepo babies have to work twice as hard. Lily-Rose Depp compared being a nepo baby to a doctor whose parents are also doctors.

Kinesiology sophomore Maggie O’Keefe said celebrities should be more forthcoming about the opportunities they are presented through nepotism.

“I think they should acknowledge that they do have that little bit of privilege already,” O’Keefe said. “Already having connections in the industry … does make their lives, and what they’re trying to do a lot easier.”

Similarly, Dobry said she thinks it’s ridiculous to deny privilege. In the case of celebrities such as Hailey Bieber, who was recently spotted wearing a shirt that said “nepo baby,” she said flaunting nepotism status is in poor taste. 

Paulis said that acknowledging nepotism becomes especially important when considering the roles, it takes away from minorities. 

“I think it creates a bit of a social hierarchy when you see a flooded industry with the same last names over and over,” Paulis said. “Hollywood started as a white male dominated industry … and by keeping the same names and families in there … it’s just completely dominated by what has always been. I think it should change, and nepotism should have no place in the industry.”

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