Nepotism Babies Have Entered The Conversation. See What They Have To Say About Their “Earned” Fame
It’s not coincidental that the entertainment industry lives off of connections and family ties. Sometimes if a person wants to make it in Hollywood, it might just be a draw of being lucky enough to be born into a famous family. “Nepotism baby” has become a buzzword and refers to the rising stars in entertainment with famous parents who may or may not have played a role in their success.
Here are some of the industry’s most well-known “nepo babies” with an in-depth look into how their family has paved the way for them; or if they earned their fame on their own.
Maude Apatow: Leslie Mann & Judd Apatow
While she played a relatively low-key character on HBO’s Euphoria, Maude Apatow has anything but a low-key upbringing. The daughter of actors Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow, Apatow has been vocal about being called a “nepotism baby.”
“I try not to let it get to me because I obviously understand that I’m in such a lucky position,” she continues, “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. It’s so early in my career, I don’t have much to show yet, but hopefully, one day, I’ll be really proud of the stuff I’ve done by myself.”
Maya Hawke: Uma Thurman & Ethan Hawke
Since her breakout role in season three of Netflix’s hit show Stranger Things, Maya Hawke immediately raised comparisons to both her parents and how much she looks like either one.
On nepotism, Hawke has said that the opportunities she’s been given aren’t infinite and that “you have to keep working and do a good job. If you do a bad job, the chances will stop. That’s my ethos.” She had a small role as one of Charles Manson’s family members in the Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Her mother, Uma, was a long-time muse of Tarantino.
Lily Collins: Phil Collins
Lily Collins, who shares a name with her famous father, singer Phil Collins, made her film debut at the tender age of 2 in the BBC series Growing Pains. She later made her film debut alongside Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side.
Like other famous children, Collins has dismissed the “nepo baby” label, saying, “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.”
Deacon Phillippe: Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon’s 19-year-old son recently made his television debut in the Netflix comedy Never Have I Ever.
Phillippe can thank his famous mom for helping him land the role. Never Have I Ever co-creator Mindy Kaling and longtime friend of Witherspoon said, “We were breaking the season, and there was this role that seemed like it would be perfect for Deacon.”
Zoë Kravitz: Lisa Bonet & Lenny Kravitz
Actor, model, and singer Zoë Kravitz, daughter of actor Lisa Bonet and musician Lenny Kravitz have spoken up on nepotism, saying, “it’s completely normal for people to be in the family business.”
Her father has maintained his daughter’s success, saying, “She did it on her own, with no help from myself or her mother other than her upbringing and what she was exposed to.”
Jaden and Willow Smith: Jada Pinkett Smith & Will Smith
Jaden and Willow Smith, children of actor/musicians Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, have closely followed the path of fame together and separately.
Both siblings have appeared numerous times in films with their father. On being called a nepotism baby, Willow has expressed the sentiment, “If you love me, amazing. If you hate me, fantastic. That’s none of my business.”
John David Washington: Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington
John David Washington earned his stripes when he won awards for his role in the 2018 film BlacKkKlansman at 34, the same age his father, Denzel Washington, received his first Oscar nomination.
Early in his career would try to distance himself from his famous father: “I used to lie, saying he was a construction worker or in jail, just to have some sense of normalcy […] I felt like there was no way people would take me seriously, even if I was good.”
Charlie Hall: Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Brad Hall
Charlie Hall, son of Seinfeld alumni Julia Louis-Dreyfus and actor Brad Hall, appears to be following in his parent’s footsteps with his latest role in HBO’s The Sex Lives of College Girls as Andrew, a recurring classmate of Bela and Whitney.
Thanks to his famous mall, the young actor made his breakout role in her award-winning comedy series, Veep, in 2019.
Billie Lourd: Carrie Fisher
Billie Lourd, well-known for her role as Chanel#3 in Scream Queens, actually began her career in multiple Star Wars spinoffs, thanks to her mother, Carrie Fisher’s legacy as Princess Leia. She even reprised the role in a flashback in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
For her role in Scream Queens, creator Ryan Murphy called her up and asked her to be on the show.
Jack Quaid: Meg Ryan & Dennis Quaid
The Boys star Jack Quaid once considered changing his last name to avoid comparison with his famous father, Dennis Quaid, or any association with his equally famous mother, Meg Ryan.
The actor said, “I knew that people would constantly say, ‘Oh, I know how he got that job, and they’re still going to say that; it’s fine.” He even refused to use his father’s agent to ensure that it was on his terms if he made it anywhere in Hollywood.
Dakota Johnson: Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith
Dakota Johnson has been in and out of sets since she was a child, thanks to her parents, actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith’s work. She made her debut at age 10 in Crazy in Alabama, where she starred alongside her step-sister Stella Banderas as daughters to their real-life mother, with the film directed by her then step-father Antonio Banderas.
It wasn’t until she took on the role of Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades movie series at the age of 25 that she truly made a name for herself.
Kendall Jenner: Kris Jenner and Caitlyn Jenner
While all of Kris Jenner’s children can be criticized for using nepotism to get ahead, Kendall Jenner has been one of the most vocal about the criticism. As one of the highest-paid models, Kendall has defended her success.
“Everyone around me, whether it’s friends or family, knows how hard I worked and how hard I still work […] Of course, I had a platform, and I never took that for granted, but that almost made my job a little bit harder because people didn’t want to hire me because I was on a reality show. I took my last name off of my modeling cards so that I was taken completely seriously.”
Lily-Rose Depp: Vanessa Paradis & Johnny Depp
The 23-year-old daughter of singer/actor Vanessa Paradis and actor Johnny Depp began her career thanks to her famous parents. She debuted her acting career in Tusk alongside her father before appearing in several independent films, including a French movie with her aunt Alysson Paradis. She has also modeled for numerous luxury brands, despite her shorter stature.
Depp said on nepotism, “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.”
Honor Swinton-Byrne: Tilda Swinton
Honor Swinton-Byrne, daughter of renowned actor Tilda Swinton and playwright John Byrne, began her acting career playing the younger version of her mother’s character in Luca Guadagnino’s 2009 film I Am Love.
She has since appeared in her godmother Joanna Hoggs’ film The Souvenir. Her mother also appears in the movie.
Bill Skarsgård: Stellan Skarsgård
Coming from a famous Swedish actor family with Stellan Skarsgard as his father and Gustaf and Alexander as his brothers, Bill distanced himself from his family to establish himself independently.
Bill has explained the reasoning saying, “the association with my brothers and my father is already so big, I didn’t want them to have anything to do with what I did. I needed them to feel that I am completely responsible for what I do.”
Mason Gooding: Cuba Gooding Jr.
Actor Cuba Gooding Jr’s son Mason Gooding, began his acting career in 2017, finding a manager and agent and booking roles on his own.
Gooding, aware of his privilege, has said, “I’m never ever going to deny the fact, nor do I think that people should be afraid of relating whatever success I may have found, to the foundation that my father led,” adding, “That, to me, I think is a huge recipe for why a lot of people find the ability to succeed is because they feel like they have the room to fail. And I thank him every day for giving me that sort of privilege.”
Margaret Qualley: Andie MacDowell
Margaret Qualley began her career in modeling, debuting at New York Fashion Week at 16. Her acting career started by chance when she visited her then-boyfriend Nat Wolff on the set of the film Palo Alto, where she had a minor role.
After enrolling in improv classes and moving to Los Angeles, she slowly began her career. She appeared in the Netflix miniseries Maid with her mother, actor Andie MacDowell, where they play mother and daughter.
Miley Cyrus: Billy Ray Cyrus
Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus began her acting career in the television series Doc which starred her father, country music star Billy Ray Cyrus.
She later auditioned for Hannah Montana, becoming the star of the show and even bringing her father along to play her on-screen father. Her godmother, singer Dolly Parton, put her in the hands of Jason Morey of Morey Management Group to handle her music career.
Gracie Abrams: J.J. Abrams
Gracie Abrams differs from her peers in that her family isn’t as well known as others on this list. Daughter of movie director JJ Abrams of Star Trek fame, Gracie has been quietly working on her music career and building a fan base via her Instagram account.
When asked about being a “nepotism baby,” Gracie said, “the internet is a funny place to call anyone names,” but that “it’s undeniable that there is a privilege in having even grown up around the knowledge of what the entertainment world looks like at all.”
Tracee Ellis Ross: Diana Ross
Descended from music royalty Diana Ross, Tracee Ellis Ross has worked hard to build a career outside of her famous mom.
Tracee began her career in modeling before eventually finding herself in the acting world. On having a famous mom, Tracee says, “It might unlock the door, but the people sitting on the other side have their arms crossed and are asking: ‘OK, is she as good as her mom?'”
Hailey Bieber: Stephen Baldwin
As a member of the Baldwin family of entertainers member, Hailey feels that working in the industry is just “the family business.”
She has since led a modeling career that has taken her from runway to runway. Hailey has said, “I want to do everything on my own without my name being a factor. I try to keep myself separate from it.” She notes her privilege despite trying to distance herself from it, “I’m not trying to take away from models who have started from scratch, and I really appreciate the girls who have had to move from another country and work really hard. I know it’s more difficult for them.”
Brooklyn Beckham: Victoria Beckham and David Beckham
Brooklyn Beckham, son of famous soccer player David Beckham and former Spice Girl/fashion designer Victoria Beckham is known for his various career attempts. He’s tried following in his father’s footsteps as a football player, tried studying design, and infamously published a photography book that internet users poorly received.
He also makes an appearance on TikTok when spotted driving a million-dollar car. When asked what he does for a living to earn such a car, Brooklyn answered, “I’m a chef.”
Sam Levinson: Barry Levinson
Sam Levinson is the son of director Barry Levinson, best known for his film Rain Man. Sam worked with his father to co-write the HBO series The Wizard of Lies which his father also directed.
Sam’s entire family works in the entertainment industry, naturally allowing him to enter the industry without much difficulty. He has directed multiple films, including the HBO series Euphoria, where he is the sole writer.
Riley Keough: Lisa Marie Presley and grandfather Elvis Presley
Like her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, Riley Keough owes a lot to her grandfather, the iconic Elvis Presley, for helping them with their careers.
Riley has admitted that despite wanting to avoid claims of nepotism, she has acknowledged the benefits, saying, “It helps you in so many ways; it helps you have more resources,” when talking about how quickly she was able to secure an agent. As a director, she’s sought to separate her grandfather’s legacy from herself.
Rumer Willis: Bruce Willis and Demi Moore
Rumer Willis certainly can’t escape her famous name, nor the presence of her larger-than-life parents, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.
Their influence has contributed to her acting career, making her debut acting as Demi’s daughter in both 1995’s Now and Then and 1996’s Striptease. She also worked with her father in the films, The Whole Nine Yards (2000), Hostage (2005), and Air Strike (2018).
Kelly Osbourne: Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Osbourne
When your parents are Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, why not take advantage of the fact and release a single? That’s precisely what Kelly Osbourne did in 2002 when she released her cover of Madonna’s song “Papa Don’t Preach.”
Since then, Kelly has used her influence to appear on different reality shows, with no new albums in the making since her 2002 debut Shut Up.
Sofia Coppola: Francis Ford Coppola and Eleanor Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola’s is synonymous with The Godfather trilogy and several other movies, including Apocalypse Now (1979) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992). Filmmaking talent runs in the family. All his children work in the film industry, including his daughter Sofia Coppola, who has followed in her father’s footsteps as a director.
Sofia has since directed cult films, such as The Virgin Suicides (1999), Lost in Translation (2004), and Marie Antoinette (2006). She became the first American woman to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, the highest prize given.
Zooey Deschanel: Caleb Deschanel and Mary Jo Deschanel
Zooey Deschanel and her sister Emily Deschanel come from a family of Hollywood filmmakers. Her father is six-time Oscar-nominated cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and actress Mary Jo Deschanel. Caleb has worked on films such as The Patriot and The Passion of the Christ.
With parents already in the industry, it seems the two sisters were naturally pulled into the warm embrace of Hollywood.
Natasha Bure: Candace Cameron Bure
Natasha Bure can thank her mom, Candace Cameron Bure, for helping her win her first acting role in the film Make It or Break It, working with her mom in the movie.
She later played the daughter of Candace’s twin characters in the Hallmark Christmas movie Switched For Christmas. In an interview with Today, Natasha remarked, “A lot of people will kind of assume that if I get any job or work at all that, it’s from her. … Or it’s given to me or it’s handed to me, and it’s honestly quite literally the opposite.”
Michael Consuelos: Kelly Ripa & Mark Consuelos
Michael Consuelos, son of Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos, is slowly paving his way through the acting world. He’s appeared in Riverdale as a young Hiram Lodge, a notable role since his father, Mark, plays an older Lodge.
Most recently, he appeared in the Lifetime movie Let’s Get Physical. The role has raised questions of nepotism at work since both his parents are film producers.