With Hollywood’s so-called nepo babies being quite the topic of conversation this week, some celebrities took to social media to share their thoughts on the matter.
Their reactions come after a New York magazine story that was published online Monday dove into the invisible network of family ties that can give the children of celebrities an advantage in the industry.
Recently, especially in 2022, the offspring of notable names in Hollywood has become a popular talking point in viral videos across social media. Some content creators have produced series around nepo babies and their well-established parents.
After the New York article went viral, O’Shea Jackson Jr., the son of rapper, actor and filmmaker Ice Cube, said in a thread of tweets Tuesday that people who are a part of generational wealth and talent should “Embrace that shit. Because it’s something that’s been happening for centuries.”
“My dad told me in a perfect world, I would play him in Straight Outta Compton. I was already in college for screenwriting at USC. I accepted the challenge. And auditioned for two years before getting the role. After that it was up to me, he couldn’t hold my hand through my career,” Jackson said about making his film debut with the key role in F. Gary Gray’s 2015 NWA biopic. “I had to get my ass up and make it work. From the roles I chose. The work ethic I put into them. My professionalism on sets and promo tours. Even leaving HIS agency and [going] to find a team of my own. Once the door was opened it was up to me to walk through it and thrive.”
Jackson, who has appeared in Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West, Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Obi-Wan Kenobi, added that it would be disrespectful not to accept the opportunities that his father worked for. “The work he put in to get us to a place of opportunity. And for me to ignore that or not accept and use as a guide would be foolish and disrespectful. I am grateful and I use his teachings daily,” he said. “Don’t let anyone get it in your head that you should feel bad or your accomplishments are less than what they are. Bust your ass! Do the work! And leave something for your kids to do the same thing! It is not a shadow for you to get out of! It is an empire to which you are growing! But it all starts with love of yourself. Love of those before you. A strong mind & WORK.”
In the past, celebrities have come to the defense of nepo babies, including Maude Apatow, the daughter of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, who told Net-A-Porter magazine in September that she thinks the term is “sad.” She said, “I try not to let it get to me because I obviously understand that I’m in such a lucky position. A lot of people [in a similar position] have proven themselves over the years, so I’ve got to keep going and do good work.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, the daughter of Blythe Danner and Bruce Paltrow, said in a Hailey Bieber YouTube video in July that “people are ready to pull you down and say, ‘You don’t belong there.'” In 2018, Dan Levy, the son of Eugene Levy, told Page Six that he never asked his father for help at the beginning of his career, saying, “I think out of fear of the label of nepotism.”
Lily Allen, born to actor Keith Allen and movie producer Alison Owen, also replied to the discourse this week to defend nepo babies and bring a bigger question into the conversation.
“The nepo babies y’all should be worrying about are the ones working for legal firms, the ones working for banks, and the ones working in politics, If we’re talking about real world consequences and robbing people of opportunity. BUT that’s none of my business,” she tweeted Monday. “And before you come at me for being a nepo baby myself, I will be the first to tell you that I literally deserve nothing.”
Kate Moss’ sister, Lottie Moss, also shared some thoughts, tweeting, “I’m so sick of people blaming nepotism for why they aren’t rich and famous or successful — obviously it’s not fair that people who come from famous families are getting a leg up because of that but guess what? Life isn’t fair — if you put your mind to something you can accomplish.”
Later, Moss would clarify and contextualize her statements in a series of tweets. “I obviously am so grateful that I have had the opportunities I’ve had and don’t get it twisted,” she said. “[I] am privileged for numerous other reasons and as I say I am grateful for it all but shitting on others because of it makes NO sense. Obviously I’m privileged to be related to a huge model as well.”
“I loveeeee that people get so pressed about something that I tweet GET A LIFE,” she concluded. (Moss has since deleted her Twitter account.)
For Jackson, it’s not just successful individuals in Hollywood who should have the opportunity to support their family members. “I wish everyone in this world to be able to present opportunities for their children to succeed. No matter how big or small. It’s something all parents work for. How many people you know working multiple jobs to put their kids through school. Making opportunities is a parents goal,” Jackson said at the end of his tweet thread. “Family first. May everyone who reads this, blaze a trail for their family to be able to walk in the future. And teach them to love themselves. To love their family. And pave the way for the next. Thank you that was my TED talk.”
On Tuesday, Allen returned to Twitter to clarify her stance on the topic by noting that her “privileged upbringing” created opportunities, and also that her perspective has changed now that she’s 40: “In my twenties I felt very defensive about it, I felt like I worked extremely hard and that I deserved the success that I had, that people connected to my songs and that the songs came from me, I also had quite a fraught relationship with some of my family members so it felt difficult for me to attribute my successes to them, at the time.”
She went on to acknowledge that the conversation gets more complicated when race and class are involved. “I do feel that nepo babies are being somewhat scapegoated here though, there is a wider, societal conversation to be had about wealth inequality, about lack of programs and funding, and I guess that was the point I was trying to make, maybe badly ,” she continued. “I promise you I’m not rooting for an industry full of people who had childhoods that looked like mine. I just really think that we can’t get to a real solution without identifying the real problem, as fun as it is to laugh at the kids of famous people. Nepo babies have feelings.”
Dec 22, 7:15 am Updated with additional statements from Moss and the deletion of her account.
Abbey White contributed to this report.