Nepotism babies are a time-honored tradition in Hollywood, and many of them are dearly beloved. From Drew Barrymore (of the famed Barrymore family) to Dan Levy (son of Eugene Levy) to Mariska Hargitay (daughter of Jayne Mansfield), lots of these so-called “nepo babies” enjoy not only success but public adoration. And yet as a species, nepo babies often seem remarkably insecure about their place in society.
Take Lily-Rose Depp, the up-and-coming star of The Idol and daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, who recently commented on the subject in a new Elle profile. “The internet seems to care a lot about that kind of stuff. People are going to have preconceived ideas about you or how you got there, and I can definitely say that nothing is going to get you the part except for being right for the part,” says the actor, whose first two credits are for movies she appeared in with her famous father. “The internet cares a lot more about who your family is than the people who are casting you in things. Maybe you get your foot in the door, but you still just have your foot in the door. There’s a lot of work that comes after that.”
“I just hear it a lot more about women, and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence,” she adds. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence, but rather… not true? Otherwise, why was nepo baby Ben Stiller melting down about the entertainment industry’s “meritocracy” back in 2021? And is someone like Scott Eastwood really escaping the nepo baby label? (Side note: The Idol wouldn’t even exist without Sam Levinson, who is—you guessed it—a nepo baby.) Applying misogyny to the label feels like a diversionary tactic. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a product of nepotism, after all.
Yet that’s not how Depp sees it: “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 argues. “If somebody’s mom or dad is a doctor, and then the kid becomes a doctor, you’re not going to be like, ‘Well, you’re only a doctor because your parent is a doctor.’ It’s like, ‘No, I went to medical school and trained.’”
Elle notes that Depp is “quick to add that she is by no means comparing her own work to that of someone in the medical field,” and indeed, it’s an apples-to-oranges comparison. After all, Depp was able to drop out of high school because the door to Hollywood was held open for her by her parents, while a person can’t be licensed to be a doctor without fulfilling certain educational requirements no matter who their parents are. Perhaps the best course of action is to acknowledge the huge boost that nepotism provides in the entertainment industry and let the work speak for itself.