Actress and musician Lily Allen sparked an online debate after she defended “nepo babies” in Hollywood, a term for the children of famous parents.
Allen, the daughter of “Trainspotting” actor Keith Allen and film producer Alison Owen, argued on Twitter that the road to success for “nepo babies” isn’t as simple as some may think. The industry, she said, is not “parent friendly.”
The “nepo babies” people should really be worried about, Allen intoned, are those in other industries.
“The nepo babies y’all should be worrying about are the ones working for legal firms, the ones working for banks, and the ones working in politics, if we’re talking about real world consequences and robbing people of opportunity,” Allen tweeted. “BUT that’s none of my business.”
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Seeing that she had “riled up” social media commenters, Allen offered a larger explanation.
“I do feel that nepo babies are being somewhat scapegoated here though, there is a wider, societal conversation to be had about wealth inequality, about lack of programs and funding, and I guess that was the point I was trying to make, maybe badly,” she said.
“I promise you I’m not rooting for an industry full of people that had childhoods that looked like mine,” she continued. “I just really think that we can’t get to a real solution without identifying the real problem, as fun as it is to laugh at the kids of famous people. Nepo babies have feelings.”
“In childhood we crave stability and love, nurturing,” Allen also tweeted. “We don’t care about money or proximity to power yet. Many of the nepo babies are starved of these basic things in childhood as their parents are probably narcissistic.”
In closing, she admitted it’s “important to disclose what a privileged upbringing” she’s had and how it has “created so many opportunities” for her.
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Several Twitter users pointed out that her parents have their own “Wikipedia pages” and argued she should sit out the debate.
“Nepo babies from any industry should not be directing any part of this conversation, actually,” Delia Harrington, an arts and culture writer for Artnet, tweeted.
“Says the daughter of an actor, and film producer, attended the most expensive private schools in the UK, one of which was the school attended by King Charles III. The working class have been sharp elbowed out of the arts by cosplayers such as you, and used as props when needed,” another user said of Allen’s Twitter thread.
Several other Twitter users, however, simply said, “she’s right,” noting that it’s common for people to enter the same career as their parents.
“Some nepo babies create new, amazing art in their own right. I wasn’t even aware some actors were nepo babies bc their performance was phenomenal,” another observer said.
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Some offered more neutral takes.
“[T]he ppl raising valid concerns about consequences of nepotism in politics/legal system/education etc haven’t stopped talking bc folks are also talking about nepotism in Hollywood. If you’re talented & successful (which you are) I’d think being called a ‘nepo baby’ wouldn’t matter,” actress and comedian Franchesca Ramsey said.
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Vulture published a feature on nepotism around the same time that Allen’s Twitter thread sparked a debate over Hollywood.
“We love them, we hate them, we disrespect them, we’re obsessed with them. On the latest @nymag cover, @kn8’s extremely-overly-analyzed story on Hollywood’s nepo-baby boom,” the outlet tweeted with a link to the piece.
A deep dive into several famous faces who fall under the “nepo babies” category, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Platt, Maya Hawke, and Lily Collins, among others, the piece dated the debate back to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The stir over Hollywood nepotism had begun to percolate at the start of the pandemic, which both supercharged the backlash against celebrities and heightened the salience of their dynastic ties,” it said.
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