If you're on social media at all, you've probably seen the term "nepo baby" tossed around. The label jumped in popularity in mid-December 2022 thanks to a series of articles posted in New York Magazine's Vulture.com, which did a deep dive into the world of nepo babies.
In case you're not familiar with the classification, "nepo baby" is short for "nepotism baby." According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, nepotism is favoritism shown to someone within the same family. The recent social media conversations around nepo babies refer to the children of famous actors, sports figures, musicians and other artists who have also become famous.
There were so many nepo babies featured on screens last year that Vulture declared 2022 the Year of the Nepo Baby. The publication covered Maya Hawke of "Stranger Things" (daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman), "Euphoria's" Maude Apatow (daughter of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann, pictured below), and Lily-Rose Depp (daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, pictured above).
Distractify says the phrase, which it calls "the term of the year," may have been coined when Apatow's fans realized her Hollywood pedigree.
Unfortunately, when someone is called a nepo baby, it's not usually a compliment. There are thousands of social media posts railing against how easy children of famous people have it when it comes to their careers.
Maude Apatow, daughter of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann.
In a Nov. 2022 interview with Elle, Depp pushed back against the nepo baby label.
"The internet cares a lot more about who your family is than the people who are casting you in things," she told Elle. "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."
For Maude Apatow, being called a nepo baby motivates her to work harder, according to her interview with Net-a-Porter.
"I try not to let it get to me because I obviously understand that I’m in such a lucky position," Apatow said. "A lot of people [in a similar position] have proven themselves over the years, so I’ve got to keep going and make good work. It’s so early in my career, I don’t have much to show yet, but hopefully one day I’ll be really proud of the stuff I’ve done by myself.”
But, the concept of nepotism and children following in their famous parents' footsteps is nothing new. In a recent Instagram post, actress Jamie Lee Curtis called herself out as an "OG Nepo Baby." Her parents were actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
In the lengthy post, the 64-year-old movie and TV star said that the recent outcry against nepo babies is uncalled for.
Chris Pizzello / AP
Jamie Lee Curtis, her parents were actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
"The current conversation about nepo babies is just designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt," Curtis wrote in her Dec. 23 post. "For the record, I have navigated 44 years with the advantages my associated and reflected fame brought me, I don't pretend there aren't any, that try to tell me that I have no value on my own."
Kate Hudson is another famous child with famous parents (her parents are Goldie Hawn and Bill Hudson) who jumped into to debate over the nepo baby controversy.
During a promotional interview for the Netflix feature "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery," Hudson talked to the U.K.'s Independent about her concerns (or lack thereof) over nepotism.
"The nepotism thing, I mean ... I don’t really care," she said. "I look at my kids and we’re a storytelling family. It’s definitely in our blood. People can call it whatever they want, but it’s not going to change it...I don’t care where you come from, or what your relationship to the business is — if you work hard and you kill it, it doesn’t matter.”