For their 2022 cover, New York Magazine coined this year ‘The Year of the Nepo Baby’ – and it really was. The cover read, “She Has Her Mother’s Eyes. And Agent.” It has since generated everything from outrage and memes to fans jumping to their favourite nepotism baby’s defence. The magazine could not have chosen a more touchy subject to end the year on.
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To those unfamiliar, a nepo baby is a celebrity with famous parents or close family members. New York Magazine featured several notable examples on the cover – Dakota Johnson, Maude Apatow, Lily Rose Depp, Zoë Kravitz, Jack Quaid among others. Needless to say, what followed was an uproar on Twitter and Instagram.
The fact is that many nepotism babies will actually surprise you – they’ve done some pretty great work over the past years and rightfully earned credibility in the industry. Take Stranger Things star Maya Hawke for instance, who couldn’t possibly have a more famous parentage – Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke. But is being a good actor enough to cancel out years of having an upper hand?
Maude Apatow, who garnered an almost cult-like following as Lexi Howard in Euphoria’s season two, told The Cut that the label made her “sad”. However, she did add later on that she was very aware of her privilege and wanted to work twice as hard to prove herself.
Back in 2019, Maya Hawke said in Variety’s red carpet interview that she went through the same audition process as everyone else before bagging a role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood. The internet was quick to call her out. Sure, Hawke may have sent in a self tape like every other person, but does coming from a film family really not affect the process at all?
— Variety (@Variety) July 23, 2019
Lily-Rose Depp is another New York Magazine 2022 cover star to receive criticism for her hot take on the nepotism baby life. “It’s weird to me to reduce somebody to the idea that they’re only there because it’s a generational thing. It just doesn’t make any sense,” she told Elle in an interview. She even went on to compare it to the medical field, saying that one wouldn’t blame someone for becoming a doctor just because their parents were doctors. Understandably, her comments received flack online, with many dubbing them out of touch.
The issue is perhaps less about nepo babies signing film after film, and more about the easy access they have to shooting their shot at those auditions in the first place. They pretty much have full access to the best agents and the many connections their famous family members have forged within the industry early on. The same cannot be said for an outsider. And this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the financial resources they have at their disposal.
Despite the outrage, nepotism babies are probably here to stay. And the truth is, we as a culture are obsessed with them, even if they don’t have Maya Hawke or Maude Apatow’s talent. It’s an inevitable part of celebrity culture. Of course, internet may perhaps be a little kinder to them if they acknowledged their privilege more often, instead of defending it.