Every once in a while, something will spark the internet to debate on the topic of nepotism. In November, Lily Rose Depp, daughter of actor Johnny Depp and model Vanessa Paradis, compared being an actor who benefits from nepotism to being a doctor who benefits from nepotism and more recently on December 19, an article in New York magazine titled How a Nepo Baby Is Born did a deep dive into the countless celebrities who benefit from nepotism.
For those who are not aware of the term nepotism, it is the practice of favoritism shown to family members or friends of the established. This may be shown in the form of privileges, including, but not limited to, job opportunities in the entertainment industry. The phrase “nepo baby” specifically describes those who benefit from nepotism in entertainment.
I wasn’t even aware of the current nepo baby discourse until Tuesday (the following day) when I saw this Lily Allen tweet. Unlike the majority of the quote retweets on Lily’s statement, I don’t disagree with what she said; nepotism does play a large role in the quantity of qualified people that are working in their extended fields, but to say that discussing the impact of nepotism in Hollywood and in the sphere of entertainment as a whole isn’t necessary is ironic and laughable considering that fact that Lily herself is a product of nepotism.
A popular way of how nepotism influences the entertainment industry is when actors, musicians, or directors for example, use their influence and status to have their children cemented inside these industries. It doesn’t really matter if the people benefiting from nepotism are truly talented when they didn’t put in the effort to break into the scene. Artists of all kinds have to try so hard just to get their foot in the door, while these nepo babies are already in the room. I can only imagine how other entertainers who had to fight their way into their respected industry can feel seeing someone who hasn’t given their all into earning their position gain all the luxury.
When we talk about nepotism and its effects, we should discuss how it can create a culture that only cares for the success of a select group of individuals. Many people in the same social circle who are influential like directors, executives, and producers can choose their hires based on how close they are and their proximity to celebrities, which highlights a divide and lack of perspective, diversity, and originality in these creative spaces.
Nepotism is vital to talk about, especially when it impacts large industries like entertainment. What I think people who are against being vocal got right is the problem isn’t with nepotism. There are hundreds of celebrities in the entertainment industry who benefit from nepotism, yet most don’t know it. What people like Bella and Gigi Hadid (models; daughters of model Yolanda Hadid), Tracee Ellis Ross (actress; daughter of disco-pop singer Diana Ross), Miley Cyrus (singer; daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and goddaughter of Dolly Parton), and others got right was they used the privilege given to them by nepotism and branched away from that label to create a name for themselves, despite the connections they have to preexisting entertainers, along with the fact that they acknowledge the connection.
The discussion of nepotism and its relation to Hollywood and entertainment is a very complex issue; it’s a topic that’ll never stop facing discourse.
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Though it may not be one we can eradicate entirely, it’s important to continue to talk about the disadvantages many may face when it comes to getting jobs in entertainment because they are not associated with people who are established within the industry. Promoting nepotism is just showing that the entertainment industry should be a place that flourishes on mediocrity and unoriginality.
Instead of switching off between the same beneficiaries of nepotism, the entertainment industry should focus on more up and coming talented entertainers who can produce fresh, high-quality content that can provide a more realistic stance on life via entertainment.