Hollywood stars are divided over the latest buzzword: “Nepo baby.”
Short for nepotism or the practice of favoring friends and family for jobs, the phrase has gained traction among social media users as they’ve used the term with both fascination and repulsion after learning up-and-coming stars might’ve had a helping hand in entering show business.
The discourse was sparked once again in Vulture’s cover story, “The Year of the Nepo Baby,” in December.
Famous offspring like Kate Hudson, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Dan Levy responded to the controversial label, with some celebrities criticizing claims of favoritism and others acknowledging their unique upbringing.
Tom Hanks adds to Hollywood ‘family business’ comments
Tom Hanks waded into the “nepo baby” debate while promoting his latest film “A Man Called Otto,” which also features his son Truman. ET followed up with Hanks about comments he made that his “family business” is Hollywood acting.
“I think my kids are all like Renaissance artists, you know? (They) are good at whatever they choose to be,” he told the outlet. “But the question here is, can you make it stick? You’ve got to have a passion, you’ve got to have a drive. And yeah, our household has existed in the company town that is Los Angeles.”
Hanks and actress wife Rita Wilson have four adult children: Elizabeth, Colin, Truman and Chet, all of whom act.
Hailey Bieber embraces ‘Nepo Baby’ fashion, gets support from Gwyneth Paltrow: ‘I might need a few of these’
Hailey Bieber, famously known as part of the Baldwin acting family (she’s Stephen Baldwin’s daughter and Alec Baldwin’s niece), acknowledged the discussion, stepping out wearing a cropped tee emblazoned “Nepo Baby.”
The 26-year-old model – wife of pop star Justin Bieber – previously spoke with Gwyneth Paltrow, daughter of producer Bruce Paltrow and actress Blythe Danner, about the subject last summer on her YouTube series, “Who’s In My Bathroom?” In the conversation, Paltrow said those whose parents are in the industry have to work harder to prove they deserve their success.
“People are ready to pull you down and say, ‘You don’t belong there’ or ‘You are only there because of your dad or your mom,’ ” she told Bieber. “Nobody in the world, especially anybody that doesn’t know you, should have a negative impact on your path or the decision that you make.”
When InStyle shared the photo of Bieber’s T-shirt on Instagram, Paltrow commented, “I might need a few of these.”
Kaia Gerber on nepotism: ‘No artist is going to sacrifice their vision for someone’s kid’
In an interview with Elle, model and actress Kaia Gerber, whose parents are models Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber, said she “won’t deny the privilege” her family has afforded her and downplayed the role of nepotism in acting.
“With acting, it’s so different. No artist is going to sacrifice their vision for someone’s kid. That just isn’t how art is made,” she said. “Also, no one wants to work with someone who’s annoying, and not easy to work with, and not kind. Yes, nepotism is prevalent, but I think if it actually was what people make it out to be, we’d see even more of it.
Kate Hudson weighs in: ‘If you work hard… it doesn’t matter’
When it comes to the nepotism baby debate, Hudson says she “doesn’t care.”
“I don’t care where you come from, or what your relationship to the business is,” Hudson, who was raised by her mother Goldie Hawn and her longtime partner Kurt Russell, said in an interview with The Independent in December. “If you work hard and you kill it, it doesn’t matter.”
Jamie Lee Curtis says label is designed to ‘diminish’ and ‘hurt’
Curtis, the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, took to Instagram in December to defend herself from false assumptions that all nepotism babies are automatically untalented or undeserving of their fame.
“The current conversation about nepo babies is just designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt,” the “Halloween Ends” star wrote at the time.
“I have navigated 44 years with the advantages my associated and reflected fame brought me, I don’t pretend there aren’t any, that try to tell me that I have no value on my own. It’s curious how we immediately make assumptions and snide remarks that someone related to someone else who is famous in their field for their art, would somehow have no talent whatsoever.”
Dan Levy ‘never really turned’ to Eugene Levy for acting help
Dan Levy rose to fame when starring alongside his father, Eugene Levy (“American Pie”) in the Emmy Award-winning series “Schitt’s Creek.” In his acting career, he said he “never really turned to my dad for anything” out of fear of the label of nepotism.
“Entertainment seems to be the only arena where children who pursue the work of their parents, which is an inherently natural thing to do, is met with a lot of skepticism. And so for my whole life, leading up to (“Schitt’s Creek), I’ve always tried to do everything on my own, I guess to prove, mainly to myself, that I could do it,” Levy told Page Six in 2018.
Lily-Rose Depp talks nepotism criticism: ‘Doesn’t make any sense’
In November, Depp opened up about her experiences as the daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis.
“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,” Depp, who is starring in HBO Max’s “The Idol,” said.
“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.”
Zoë Kravitz: ‘It’s completely normal for people to be in the family business’
When discussing the topic in November, Kravitz, who is the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, said it’s “completely normal for people to be in the family business”.
“It’s literally where last names came from. You were a blacksmith if your family was, like, the Black family,” the “Batman” star, 34, told GQ.
Jack Quaid didn’t want people thinking ‘I’m just riding my parents’ coattails’
Jack Quaid, best known for his role in “The Boys,” previously talked about wanting to distance himself from his parents, actors Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, even considering changing his last name.
“I think in the beginning, I was like, ‘Oh, do people like me? Do they think that I’m just riding my parents’ coattails?’ and all this stuff,” Quaid, 30, said in a June interview with Thrillist. “I’ve been making an effort to focus on that less and just really trying to embrace this.”
‘Nepo babies’ in Hollywood: What do famous families say about industry equity?
Contributing: Elise Brisco, Erin Jensen
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tom Hanks, Kaia Gerber, Hailey Bieber, more on nepotism baby debate