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It's always who's this nepo baby, never how's this nepo baby. 😔 No, but seriously, what's this obsession with nepo babies? You might have seen Vulture’s super viral article on this, published a month ago. Let's go on our usual deep dives but this time into this sea of nepo babies — starting with what is a nepo baby?
Okay, so in case you’ve managed to successfully avoid this corner of the internet, nepo baby is short for nepotism baby. It's currently the hip way of saying a person who used their successful parents' name and fame to get into the same or similar industry. So, an industry baby? More or less. Okay, so a nepo baby is more generational — think famous last names, so Dakota Johnson, Lily-Rose Depp or Lily Collins. Industry Babies, however, are kids of parents that have or are in the industry, but instead of famous last names, they get connections or, as some like to put it, a foot in the door. Some famous industry babies are Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish and even Chris Pine.
⬆️ Hailey Bieber (daughter of Stephen Baldwin and niece of Alec Baldwin) wearing a “Nepo Baby” shirt, acknowledging her part in this discourse
Now, if you're a history nerd like me (pop culture counts, it's okay if you think Britney's Toxic had more cultural impact than the renaissance, you are seen and heard. I respect it.), you're wondering about the origins of nepo babies… the word, not the people; they've been around for a long time. Let's start with the word nepotism itself because I think etymology is cool (I promise I'm cool, check my Instagram for proof ;)). So nepotism has its roots in Italian and French — népotisme and nepotismo. Nepotismo is derived from the word nipote, which means 'nephew' and refers to the privileges the pope's 'nephews' would have (spoiler: they were were illegitimate sons). But the term 'nepo baby' itself comes from a tweet by Meriam Derradji, who tweeted, "Wait, I just found out that the actress that plays Lexie is a nepotism baby omg her mom is Leslie Mann and her dad is a movie director lol." The tweet was referring to Maude Apatow, daughter of Judd Apatow. People were surprised Derradji didn't know about Judd Apatow. Still, it also piqued the curiosity of Gen Z about other 'unknown' nepo babies. Thus TikTok became the platform where people “exposed” their research findings.
Okay, clearly by now, you've gathered that nepotism is prevalent in the entertainment industry — especially Hollywood and music. But it's also highly prevalent in business and politics. We're focusing on the entertainment industry.
But wait, THERE ARE TYPES OF NEPO BABIES?! Apparently, yes. According to Nate Jones from Vulture, there are 8 nepo babies in Hollywood, but they can be applied to broader disciplines. I am going to activate my inner Buzzfeed writer and write in lists, so look carefully lest you miss one.
The Newbies — New gen nepo babies that have just gotten their start in Hollywood (or the music industry). Think Gracie Abrams, Lily-Rose Depp or Destry Spielberg
The Busy Bees — These are second-generation stars constantly appearing in different things, and you probably see them a lot. Case in point Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer or Tom Hanks' son Colin Hanks.
Almost there — They're famous, but you know their famous relatives much more. However, they have major projects under their belts. My favourite examples are Dan Levy, Maude Apatow and Riley Keough. Bill Skarsgård is an honourable mention here because the writer (moi) loves him.
The Jewels — They're as successful as their relatives, if not more. Starred and/or created in multiple works of their own. Alexander Skarsgård (the writer is in love with them), Dakota Johnson and Miley Cyrus are my favourites.
Congratulations on your graduation! — They're the kids that have been around for a long time. They're iconic. Chances are you don't even know that they're a nepo baby because when I say my jaw DROPPED when I found out George Clooney is a nepo baby. Other actors in the graduate club are Michael Douglas, Jane Fonda and Angelina Jolie.
Multiverse of nepotism — The entire family is famous. That's pretty much it. The Kardashian-Jenners, the Chaplins and the Coppolas are prime examples. Also, adding this mouthful of a family for funsies; are you ready? The Lawson-Knowles-Gordy-Gaye-Fuquas. Yeah, it's a fun family tree, yanno, Marvin Gaye, Beyoncé and Redfoo. Christmas must be fantastic.
Apple fell a little further from the tree — The babies raised by musicians but went into acting and vice versa. Tracee Ellis Ross, LoveLeo, Robin Thicke and the Smith siblings, just to name a few.
Nepo Baby but not quite — These are the industry babies. I talked about them earlier, but I wanted to add more examples for funsies. Jordyn Woods, Gyllenhaal siblings, King Princess, and Meghan Markle, just to name a few more.
Before Hollywood, though, Bollywood had a giant discourse on nepo babies back in 2020. There was public outrage, and hashtags supporting the industry's boycott were trending. The public's reaction to Bollywood nepotism is on the opposite end of the spectrum, and it may partly be due to the actual nepo babies.
Look, I'm a huge Bollywood fan, which is why I should be criticising and questioning how it works now. It seems exclusive and elitist. Was it this way 2 decades ago? Absolutely not. The so-called 'outsiders', who are people with no connections, would be given a chance which has seen a decrease in the last two decades. Nepotism in Bollywood has been around since the 1950s, with the Kapoor family at the helm. No family is as big as theirs, but we have seen the rise of numerous families, such as the Bachchans, the Deols and the Chopras.
The new nepo babies are the same age as you and me; they're Gen Z. You would think they'd have an appeal with the Gen Z audience, and yeah, they do, but it's the older generation nepo babies that have struck a chord in the Gen Z's heart. Why? Humility. So here's the thing: most of the older actors — nepo baby or not — practice humility. The new gen nepo babies often fail to recognise their privilege and chalk up their success to hard work, which I do not doubt, but to only credit hard work? That's wrong. You'll see some of them even whine about how their fathers never got a movie with a specific production house and how it was a "struggle".
The people don't have a problem with just the nepo babies in Bollywood; certain producers and directors prefer to 'launch' star kids and 're-launch' star kids if their movies fail to do well. Unlike in Hollywood, where your talent sustains you, in Bollywood, a producer or director will support you.
While the entertainment industry has seen a lot of nepo babies, a new industry is also witnessing the rise in them — tech. While some tech kids follow in their parents' footsteps and get into tech, others, like Eve Jobs, are equestrians and work as models. The apple fell far, far away from the tree in some cases.
I wouldn't class tech babies as nepo babies just yet unless they go into tech, but since many choose to go into lucrative sports like horseback riding or different industries like fashion, I'd say they lean more towards industry babies. There's little to the tech nepo babies since they're still 'new' to the scene, but their rise would be interesting to see and how they handle being called a nepo baby. Hopefully, they've learnt from their Hollywood counterparts and know what not to do.
What does the internet think about nepo babies? Mixed reactions everywhere. It's not so black and white. Some people believe their position in the industry is justified because of how hard their parents worked, and it's their job to provide. Some think it's unfair; that as long as you acknowledge that your privilege helped you get to where you are, and you're humble, they're okay with you being a nepo baby. Because chances are if they had a famous parent or grew up in wealth, they'd also use it to their advantage. It's fundamental human nature. I've heard a lot of people, including my friends, talk about how they wish they had grown up in wealth so their life could've been easier. It's a nuanced discussion, but let us know your thoughts!
Any questions/suggestions as to what we should cover next? Reach out to us and we’re always here to chat!
— Written by Shaurya, Trends Reporter at The Z Link
Connect with Shaurya on Instagram where she shares great content and lives her best influencer life as a fashion student in Paris. And she writes all of these great issues too. What can’t she do??? 🧐 Thank you for reading!
True , it’s completely fair if they use their parents connections for their benefit, i mean that’s how it works right , I would do that n even you would do the same its just a means to play by in life . Not limiting it to the entertainment industry but every other field.