Culture

What Are ‘Nepotism Babies’? Here’s Why TikTok’s Eyes Are On Celebrities From Famous Families

Turns out, they make up half of Hollywood.

By Diandra Malivindi
Whether you're scrolling through social media or binge-watching a iconic must-watch, there's no denying the new crop of faces rising to A-list status.
And while some have become known for their impressive talents, others have noticed their eerily familiar facial features. From the likes of Zoë Kravitz and Kaia Gerber to Timothée Chalamet and Dakota Johnson, half of Hollywood is bursting at the seams with what TikTok likes to call: 'Nepotism Babies'.
While the term isn't exactly new, the latest conversation around the concept is, thanks to a viral social media post about the famous parents of Euphoria's Maude Apatow.
While most millennials and over will recognise Maude's surname as being directly related to famous film director, Judd Apatow—the man behind Bridesmaids, Knocked Up and Superbad to name a few—and actress Leslie Mann, for some people, it was Brand New Information.
From there, it sparked a conversation around the concept of nepotism within Hollywood and how, yes, most of our favourite celebrities are likely there because of their famous family.
Thanks to a hashtag boasting 9.6 million views on TikTok, the internet are deciding if we should continue praising nepotism babies, which tiers of nepotism they should fall into and to what degree we should crucify their privilege.
But what exactly is a 'nepotism baby'? Below, everything you need to know about the children following in their parents' already-established footsteps.

What Are 'Nepotism Babies'?

In order to completely understand what the TikTok trend actually means, let's start with a simple definition.
'Nepotism' is a term that has typically been reserved for the affluent and successful among us. By definition, it essentially refers to people who have gained power or influence from having relatives or friends who can offer them a leg up.
So, if you've ever had a loved one in "put in a good word" for you or secured you a hard-to-get opportunity because a relative and a boss "go way back"—you get the gist—well, that's nepotism.
For Hollywood's nepotism babies, they've been given the biggest advantage of all, that is, having famous parents. Already establishing a name for themselves in the world, connections and networking opportunities are at their children's disposal, even if their offspring want to make it on their own.
Some find their privilege starts from the get-go à la Zoē Kravtiz since her parents, Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet, were consistently in the spotlight.
While for others, their privilege came to fruition out of the public eye. Take for example, Cara Delevingne, who comes from a wealthy upper class family (her father is property developer Charles Hamar Delevingne, and her grandmother is Joan Collins). Does that make her any less talented as a model? No—but attending an elite private school and becoming besties with the daughter of a modelling agency is definitely a way to get your foot in the door.
While privilege is impossible to eradicate, many are left wondering which nepotism babies should be praised for what they're famous for. This leads up to our next question—are there any famous 'nepotism babies' getting it right? Well, yes, there are.

Which 'Nepotism Babies' Are Getting It Right?

It's one thing to be the child of all-round connected parents who can make the life of your dreams happen with a simple phone call. But it's another thing entirely, when those nepotism children acknowledge their easier start and, at least attempt to, prove that they can make the most of it.
The internet also agrees that there are certain nepotism babies who differ from the others. From Billie Eilish and Drew Barrymore to Elizabeth Olsen, Maya Hawke and Lily-Rose Depp (the list goes on), having parents who know someone compared to having parents who are someone makes things very different.
Of course, a controversial example of the latter is Kendall Jenner. Many have taken issue with how she became such a successful model in the blink of an eye, working in an industry known for seeing disadvantaged women struggling to climb even the first rung of the career ladder.
Her start in modelling was documented in reality TV show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians. In one episode, a teenage Kendall asked her mother Kris if she could become a model, just like she was asking for a ride to the mall. Of course, Kris immediately booked her in for an interview with top-tier modelling agency, Wilhelmina Models, and the rest was history.
However, many believe that Kendall hasn't recognised her extreme privilege. In response to claims that her success was handed to her, she controversially said that she found it "a little bit harder" for her to earn her stripes because of her famous family.
"I did everything that I was supposed to do and had to do to get to the position that I'm at now as a model," Kendall said in a KUWTK reunion episode.
"I went to every single casting and ran all over not only New York City but all over Europe trying to get a job and make my way," she added, "I think it's just a perception that people have, that I just was like, 'Give it to me!' and I had it… It definitely was not that."
However, these quotes came after Kendall decided to not walk New York Fashion Week in 2018—alongside fellow nepo babies Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid and Kaia Gerber, instead spending the time on a snow trip with her sisters.
According to People, a source claimed that "there's no real reason" Kendall decided not to walk the runway that year. While another added that "Kendall always decides last minute what she is walking in. It depends on the money and how she is feeling".
Naturally, this didn't land too well. Given how many young models have spent years looking for their big break, the financial and physical struggles of emerging models is a tale as old as time. So, to hear that a then 23-year-old Kendall apparently picked and chose her opportunities depending on income and her mood clearly didn't sit right with many.
Another example of Hollywood nepotism can be seen in Brooklyn Beckham, son of David and Victoria Beckham. For years, he worked as a photographer and controversially landed a coveted Burberry campaign. Until one day, he put down the camera, and called himself a cook.
Posting a handful of cooking videos to Instagram, he was suddenly taking part in a cooking segment on the Today Show to show off his culinary 'talents'.
Naturally, fans called him out for using his nonexistence experience onscreen to only make a bacon, sausage, egg and ketchup sandwich—with regular, sliced bread—that his great-grandmother apparently "taught" him how to make.
One user on Reddit summed it up perfectly, saying, "If he didn't have famous parents, this would never have been given air time". While another simply said, "I can't fully blame these kids either, they grow up in SUCH a bubble since birth, they know no other existence than to be constantly praised by strangers and friends of dad for doing nothing".
But not all hope is lost. Compare the above to Dakota Johnson: her mother is actress Melanie Griffith, her father is actor Don Johnson and her grandmother is Tippi Hedren. Is she incredibly well-connected? Yes. While her talent is obvious, Hollywood sees these kinds of connections as more valuable than having money. While her family isn't what the public think of her—just like Scott Eastwood for example—her family connections are likely why we know her name at all. But unlike the others, her years of incredible acting work has proven that she's worthy of a spot on the A List.
For Dakota, her famous family usually comes as an afterthought or a fun fact. While she certainly would have used nepotism to get a head start, she seemingly made the rest of the progress on her own. (And let's be honest, she also earned some brownie points after that iconic Ellen take down).
On the other end of the spectrum, the internet has begun praising the direct opposite of nepotism babies. Take for example, Olivia Rodrigo, who has skyrocketed to fame through her debut album, Sour. Aside from her Hollywood-approved looks and incredible talent, Rodrigo's career progression was largely after she became a Disney star, thanks to her role in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. The child of a school teacher and a therapist, she definitely comes from humble beginnings.
Now, there's nothing saying we should bring the full force of cancel culture down on the nepotism-riddled A-list. But perhaps, opening the conversation about privilege will show us a more realistic look into how their personas became so glorified. After all, Hollywood's preference for nepotism isn't going anywhere, anytime soon.
In the end, there's no point for us regular folk to compare ourselves to celebrities who were born with the world at their feet.
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  • undefined: Diandra Malivindi