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Let's Stop Hating Nepotism Babies

by Isabelle Zarrin

Idolizing celebrities is an act that many are guilty of, and while it has its highs - entertainment, creating communities, and positive influences - it also has its fair share of lows. A recent, rather controversial talking point has been “nepotism babies,” or the children of celebrities that use their parents' fame as a way into the industry of their choosing. Consumers of the art or content that they create are often overcome with disappointment when they learn that some of their favorite celebrities didn't exactly make it to where they are entirely on their own. It can feel like a distinct betrayal and subversion of the “American Dream”; the idea that ordinary people can make it to the top, earning their celebrity status with hard work alone. Nepotism creates what some may consider to be an inauthentic and unrelatable lifestyle, one not easily achievable by the average person because children of nepotism aren't “self-made.” This information is not intentionally hidden from us; with a quick Google search, anyone can easily find out who the parents of a certain celebrity are. But even with unhindered access to this, many people are still shocked to find who in Hollywood has famous parents.

One well-known child of nepotism is actress Maya Hawke. Best known for her role as Robin on Stranger Things, she is the daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman. Hawke’s parents come from the film industry, with both of them being famous actors: Thurman is known for her roles in Dangerous Liaisons and Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films, while Ethan Hawke, who is also a writer and director, is known for films such as Dead Poets Society.

In an interview with People, Maya Hawke said, “I think I'll get a couple chances on their name, and then if I suck, I'll get kicked out of the kingdom, and that's what should happen.”

With this insight from Hawke, we see that she is fully aware of the privileges that she possesses due to her last name, and she has made it clear that she does not take these opportunities for granted.

Hawke also spoke more on nepotism and privilege with Rolling Stone. “I feel like the only way to handle the nepotism thing – which definitely gives you massive advantages in this life – is, you will get chances for free, but the chances will not be infinite,” she said. “So you have to keep working and do a good job. If you do a bad job, the chances will stop. That's my ethos.”

Some might argue that many people don't get chances at all, let alone free ones. But in the end, it is inevitable that there will be those who are more privileged than us, and fame is transient for all despite their birthright.

Similarly, Euphoria actress Maude Apatow, the daughter of actress Leslie Mann and director Judd Apatow, spoke on how she felt about the nepotism accusations she faced back in 2020 in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I've acted in so many of my parents' movies, and people are going to say it's nepotism…it is an insult, but it is what it is,” Apatow said. “I'm gonna spend my whole life trying to prove myself as an individual…It's really important to me to show that I work really hard, because I do.”

Like Hawke, Apatow recognizes that she has the upper hand in accessing opportunities in her industry because of her parents, which is important because being aware of your own privilege generates more understanding of those who are not in your position. Further, she explains the real need to prove herself to everyone, especially those who doubt her because of the accusatory stigma surrounding nepotism.

So, why should we stop hating “nepotism babies”? Although they have privilege over the rest of us, the majority of them deserve every opportunity and achievement that comes their way. Being born into a famous family does not automatically make them undeserving of their own careers. The children of famous people are exposed to far more opportunities than the average person, but their success ultimately comes down to their talent and perseverance. As long as these celebrities are not excessively exploiting their parents' fame, there is no harm in humbly using the resources you have been granted. Being a “nepotism baby” does not mean landing every audition or having every song hit the top of the charts; it simply means having a recognized advantage, but still needing to work hard to succeed as an individual like anyone else.


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