Nepotism Babies and Products of Privilege

Abigail Elperin, Staff Writer

It is no secret that Hollywood is a petri dish that grows the dynasties and privilege of the elite. For the many decades entertainment has been considered a legitimate industry in America, and those who are able to succeed in Hollywood often originate from already wealthy and successful families, especially lately. To be born into a family that can provide you substantial advantages is a privilege not many enjoy. These advantages can include economic support, having enough time to pursue passions or a career, having connections within an industry, or quite simply, having a recognizable name. Freshman Sander Floyd says, “I think it really just comes down to your name. If you have a famous name it means you are recognizable, and people will check you out.” Concisely known, people with such monumental advantages and more are known as “nepotism babies.” This term has been trending online due to the dramatic prominence of nepotism babies in entertainment, and how it drowns out everyone without a family connection in the industry. An article from Hollywood Insider says, “There is a very real threat of poisoning the art that Hollywood has set out to create when you invoke a standard of ingenuine talent– instead of choosing from the cream of the crop, we have made it virtually impossible to establish a career in film or television without the fail-safe card in your back pocket.” This leaves Hollywood in a feedback loop, limiting the number of few fresh faces and amount of new talent. 

There are many reasons people have to dislike nepotism babies. Though many will agree that having privilege does not make someone inherently problematic, it is hard to appreciate someone’s career without recognizing how they began. An article from Elle says, “Take for example, Cara Delevingne, who comes from a wealthy upper class family. 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.” Another large criticism of nepotism babies is the fact that they benefit from and contribute to a system that favors wealth and connections over talent. Sophomore Debbie Frisbie says, “Money is so integral to success inside the entertainment industry nowadays. Breaking into this model of work is exclusive and the only foolproof way in is to pay. So many incredibly untalented people land insane roles, record deals, and more because of their connections, and it’s definitely not a new phenomenon.” Many researchers claim that a justification for the success of nepotism babies is inherited talent from a family member, usually in terms of genetics. When spoken of in relation to generational wealth and privilege, however, it nearly sounds like a new-age version of social Darwinism. In an article for USA Today, genealogist Lindsay Fulton says, “There’s definitely a lot of anecdotal evidence that shows that someone usually has an aptitude for a talent that their parents or grandparent had.” Nepotism babies also tend to draw in backlash when the role of predisposed privilege in their careers is overshadowed. In 2019, Kylie Jenner was named the youngest self-made billionaire. Forbes wrote, “She is the youngest-ever self-made billionaire, reaching a ten-figure fortune at a younger age than even Mark Zuckerberg (who was 23 when he hit that mark).” Jenner comes from the fabulously wealthy Kardashians, giving her a substantial advantage in business. Due to this, many debate if Jenner is indeed a ‘self-made’ billionaire. Junior Sanjit Paturi says, “I would say she is [a self-made billionaire] to an extent, because she did put in the work, but she also comes from a very wealthy family.” Some of the most famous nepotism babies also tend to be white- particularly, white women. Some examples of this are Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, Miley Cyrus, Lily-Rose Depp and Angelina Jolie. This is a signifier of the racial wealth gap, which is often a byproduct of generational wealth in white families, further illustrating how Hollywood has more willingness to cast and grow the careers of white people.  This also demonstrates Hollywood’s historic demand for attractive young women.  

It is unquestionably true that nepotism and inorganic rises to fame are nothing new; nepotism babies and the buzz surrounding them have simply been popularized by recent generations and social media. An article from Refinery29 says, “TikTok users celebrate the amorphous style of the Jenners, Kaia Gerber, Lila Grace Moss and Iris Law. Some even shun the small, necessary detail of inherited fame, wealth and influence, insisting that dressing like them is a way to ‘manifest’ the same outcome. Dress for the job you want? Why not.”  

Everyone who was not born into wealth and fame knows that the only thing separating them from someone like Paris Hilton or Jake Gylenhaal is being born into the right family. Senior Ava Casas says, “I think our society is becoming more aware of generational wealth, and we’re starting to favor people with more genuine upbringings.” Going forward, the entertainment industry must learn to adapt to the desires of their audience, and right now, people just want to see truly talented people (especially ones without already rich and famous families) succeed.