HS Editorial: What is a “Nepo Baby?”

Editors discuss the role of nepotism and privilege in entertainment

Lear Eicher, Copy Editor

Jaden Smith, Lily-Rose Depp, Zoë Kravitz and Gwyneth Paltrow: we all know them, but why are we suddenly calling them “nepo babies?”

The term “nepo baby” originated from a mass Twitter critique of the current state of popular entertainment and the observation that it seems to be ruled by bygone celebrities’ children—like some twisted monarchy. An abbreviation of “nepotism babies,” the term is used to refer to children of celebrities who had their careers jumpstarted by the success of their parents, or at the very least have benefitted from nepotism in some capacity.

The use of the term has not come without criticism, however. Among others, Jamie Lee Curtis (whose parents both had careers in entertainment) has publicly defended herself from being associated with the term, noting that the amount of work she has put into her prolific, 44-year career as an actress cannot be completely diminished by the fact that she has potentially benefitted from her parents. Personally, I find this response fairly convincing and diplomatic.

However, if we expand the definition of “nepo baby” to encompass not only celebrity children but anyone in a position of privilege because of their parents’ standing, a different discussion arises. Because of this, it’s time we address the elephant in the room: my wonderful mother. On a small scale, one could argue that I, as a faculty kid, have as much responsibility to recognize my privilege as anyone being publicly criticized as a “nepo baby.”

I believe there is undeniably some truth to this—in my experience, however, while I do have certain perks (such as getting free food from my mom’s desk during break periods), my mom probably has higher expectations for me than for other students. Plus, if I cross my mom as a teacher, I’ve also crossed her as a parent, and then I have unpleasant consequences to look forward to in terms of both my grade and home life.

This being said, I actually think it’s fairly likely that children of faculty do receive slightly favorable treatment from other faculty members, even if on a subconscious level (or, understandably, to avoid unpleasant interactions with colleagues). Additionally, I have had much more time than the average student to acclimate to the staff and friends of the community as well as to the school culture because of my mom’s position. In this regard, I am privileged.

Furthermore, humor aside, this relates to a broader cultural discussion (a necessary and healthy one at that): the importance of recognizing one’s own privilege. This applies to more issues than the sanctity of the entertainment industry, too—for example, it is important to keep in mind that every student at this school is more privileged than a vast percentage of the human population. 

Because of this, I believe that simply acknowledging privilege—not necessarily shouting it from a mountaintop or posting it all over social media in a performative way—is a step toward collective empathy and growth.