The Commotion around Hollywood and Fashion’s Nepo Babies – Is it really that deep?

The internet has just found its new contentious talking point, and it’s a phrase that’s on everyone’s lips.

Think; of the likes of Kendall Jenner, Brooklyn Peltz-Beckham, the Apatow sisters, and the Hadid siblings. What all these stars have in common, aside from their illustrious last names and armies of social media followers, is that they share the special privilege of a famous, wealthy lineage, earning themselves a very modest moniker in the online sphere.

Meet, the ‘nepo baby’: yielding from nepotism, it’s a term coined to describe a celebrity involved in the entertainment industry who has a famous parent, with its connotations often derogatory and suggestive that the person has obtained their status through favouritism over talent.

Nepotism in showbiz is certainly nothing new, and yet the internet has become enthralled with the origins and privilege afforded to big-named nepo babies –from models and actors to sporting stars or producers. So much so, that the hashtag #nepobabies has garnered more than 27.2 million views on the TikTok platform alone, whilst the sudden surge of interest has earned the colloquialism a place in the Macquarie Dictionary’s 2022 shortlist for word of the year.

Via Macquarie Dictionary, 2022.

The root of the spotlight? Frustration, curiosity, and perhaps even envy, into how these nepo-babies really earnt their various platforms and roles.

In a notoriously hard industry to break into, no wonder the prevalence of nepotism babies begs the question of their humble beginnings.

It feels unfair, almost. That a child can gain guaranteed free access to opportunities others may have fought tooth and nail for, only to be relegated for a lack of familial connection.

Though, it’s important to remember that a ‘meritocratic Hollywood’ is an inflated idea, in an industry where nepotism has existed for decades.

It’s a phenomenon shrouded in clandestineness, as nepo babies continue to publicly claim their hard work trumps any status or esteem their name could manifest.

The mounting online discourse was only heightened by recent comments from model and actress Lily-Rose Depp for Elle Magazine, who happens to be the daughter of both actor Johnny Depp and French singer Vanessa Paradis.

The young model affectionately labelled as an “Idol Rising” in the featurette, raised eyebrows as she dismissed the benefits of nepotism for her career, describing the term nepo baby as ‘reductive’.

People are going to have preconceived ideas about you or how you got there, and I can definitely say that nothing is going to get you the part except for being right for the part,” she said in the article.

How did these comments fair in the court of public opinion? Not so well. Depp’s sentiments were met with an uproar of criticism, deeming the actress as ‘tone-deaf’ for not acknowledging her well-heeled privilege- a one-way ticket to success.

Left: (Embedded video caption- TikTok creator and former IMG model AJ Krakovsky’s reactions to Depp’s comments).
Middle: Model Vittoria Ceretti addresses Depp’s remarks in a lengthy Instagram story.
Right: Photo-Illustration: Joe Darrow for New York Magazine

Though amongst the pandemonium comes the resistance from fellow celebrities, albeit nepo-babies themselves.

English singer and the daughter of film producers Lily Allen took to Twitter to defend her younger peers, calling out the media’s focus on nepo-talent.

Via @lilyallen on Twitter

Regardless of inherited fame or favour, credit should be given where it is due, and there’s no denying the plethora of genuine, talented nepo-babies out there.

However, it seems the public rallies when a level of self-awareness is absent, amongst comments which may seem patronising and superficial to those without a recognisable surname.

Nevertheless, the internet is hooked and will continue to love, hate, scrutinise and praise nepo babies everywhere.

Should the privilege afforded to nepo-babies really come as a surprise?

Written by Vi Truong

Header Image: Via @gigihadid on Instagram

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