From Beckham and Bieber to Smith and Washington — here’s our A-Z of the nepo babies ruling pop culture
In December last year, New York Magazine and Vulture released a damning expose on Hollywood’s nepotism problem. For the first time, we began to truly understand...
Okay, I’m joking. Nepotism has been ‘a thing’ since about the 14th century, and ‘a thing in Hollywood’ since the children of silent movie stars learned to talk. The news, however, that almost anyone who ‘makes it’ in Hollywood by the time they’re 21 is either the offspring of someone famous or very, very tired came as a real slap in the face to Gen Z.
Admittedly, it does sometimes feel as though Paul Mescal is the sole pair of arms holding together the structure of meritocracy within the entertainment industry.
And because it’s interesting to see how power moves in the world of celebrity, we’ve prepared a non-exhaustive list of all the biggest, most-hyped and best hidden nepo babies out there right now.
Nepo connections: Her father is award-winning director Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, 40-year-old Virgin) and her mother is Leslie Mann, who also starred in both of those movies.
Claim to fame: Currently starring in hit HBO series Euphoria alongside Zendaya, Sydney Sweeney and basically every other Gen Z icon in the world.
Big break: Starring in one of her dad’s latest films, King of Staten Island, alongside Pete Davidson.
Secret skill: Big doe eyes that will allow her to play teenage characters well into her 30s.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Yes, and she said it makes her “a little sad”. Speaking to Net-a-Porter, she said: “I try not to let it get to me because I obviously understand that I’m in such a lucky position. 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.”
Nepo connections: Her father is actor Stephen Baldwin, one of the Baldwin brothers, and her uncles are fellow actors Alec Baldwin and William Baldwin. Her mother Kennya Baldwin is graphic designer and doesn’t have much to do with show business, apart from the fact that she’s the daughter of world-famous Brazilian Jazz composer Eumir Deodato. This thing has layers.
Claim to fame: Her face is now almost synonymous with Calvin Klein.
Big break: Made her runway debut walking for Topshop (RIP) in 2014. By the end of 2015, she had been featured in Vogue, Teen Vogue, Wonderland Magazine, L’Officiel and had walked additional runways for Tommy Hilfiger and Philipp Plein.
Secret skill: Red carpet serves.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Yes, by wearing a slogan t-shirt that said “nepo baby” around LA. Tone deaf or iconic? A little bit of both, I vote.
Nepo connections: Her father is Oscar-winning 78-year-old actor and producer, Michael Douglas and her mother is Welsh-born actress Catherine Zeta-Jones. The Hollywood power couple have been married since 2000.
Claim to fame: She’s already a fashion star in the making. In 2019, alongside her mother, she starred in both a Fendi campaign and appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair’s Spain edition September issue (which, historically, is considered to be the most coveted moment of the year for fashion magazines).
Big break: Her magazine debut, on the cover of Town and Country’s September 2018 issue. No drama and teenage tantrams to see here, though, as the headline would suggest: “Hollywood Royalty Raised Right.”
Secret skill: In recent months, the 20-year-old has been sharing her musical talents with her 190k Instagram followers, including footage of herself singing Shallow on stage in an NYC bar last month. Her mum supportively commented underneath the post, “Carys!!!!! Amazing! Wish I was there. Love you. Have a blast baby."
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Sort of. “When I was younger I didn’t like the idea of having his name attached, this kind of ‘Douglas Dynasty’ stuff,” Carys said in an interview with Town and Country. “I think what bothers me the most is that people think I don’t work hard for it, that I don’t need to work hard for it. That anything I do gets handed to me. When, honestly, I feel like it’s the opposite. I feel I need to constantly prove myself to people – that I am not just my parents’ daughter.”
Nepo connections: His father is the footballer David Beckham, his mother is Victoria Beckham, the Spice Girl and successful English fashion designer.
Claim to fame: Modelling, though he attempted a brief foray into becoming a photographer and has now set his sights on being a chef. There doesn’t seem to be a cookbook on the way anytime soon, but he does keep fans updated with his new tips, tricks and recipes via Instagram, or cooking videos on Vogue’s YouTube channel.
Big break: Hasn’t really had one but remains famous all the same.
Secret skill: Uhhhhhh…. uhhhhh……..
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? No, and I honestly fear for the day he does.
Nepo connections: The 23-year-old’s father is former Oasis rocker Noel Gallagher (he formed band High Flying Birds in 2010) and her mother is Meg Matthews, 90’s Britpop party girl-turned-menopause campaigner.
Claim to fame: Whilst she’s previously scored modelling gigs for the likes of Reebok and X-Girl, these days it appears she has her sights set on being behind the lens.
Big break: At 20, she fronted her first big lingerie campaign for Bluebella. “Like most young women I'm a bit self-conscious with pictures of myself and I wasn't confident about how I looked,” she said. “But mum said to me, ‘Are you mad, they are amazing!’ As soon as she said that I was completely OK with them, and they are really great.”
Secret skill: A budding photographer, you can peruse her growing portfolio Instagram page @a.gallagher.photos (currently amassing 16.2k followers) for candid band BTS pictures of her father, rising musicians and wholesome landscapes in Hampshire.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Yes, and she’s been refreshingly honest about her priviledge. Speaking on The Happy Hour podcast, she said: “I’m fully aware of how lucky I am and like I can get my door into so many places because of my dad.” Before adding, “I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I work really hard… if I can take photos of bands because my dad’s really prominent then why wouldn’t I?”
Nepo connections: Musician Phil Collins is her father.
Claim to fame: Collins has been working as an actress for over 14 years, starring in rom coms like Stuck In Love and Love, Rosie, but she’s best known as annoying American advertising assistant Emily Cooper in Netflix’s Emily in Paris.
Big break: As Sandra Bullock’s daughter in The Blind Side.
Secret skill: Thriving in the most hate-watched Netflix series of all time
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Yes, and has argued it didn’t help her out. “It was out of the question that people would think that I use a free pass thanks to my name,” she told Vogue France. “I’m proud of my dad, but I wanted to be me, not just his daughter. For that, I was ready to wait to break through.” Hmmmmmm.
Nepo connections: Her father is actor Johnny Depp, her mother is actress, model and singer Vanessa Paradis.
Claim to fame: Face of Chanel No. 5
Big break: Will be the upcoming HBO series The Idol, directed by Euphoria’s Sam Levinson. Even if it isn’t a Euphoria-level success, it will still be a talking point due to its cast (Depp, The Weeknd, Jennie from BlackPink, Troye Sivan, Dan Levy).
Secret skill: Dissociative pout
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Oh yes. In a November interview with Elle magazine, she said: “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. 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.” Though she does go on to make the point: “I just hear it a lot more about women, and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence.”
Nepo connections: Her mother is supermodel Cindy Crawford. Her father also used to be a model but more importantly he founded the tequila brand Casamigos with George Clooney.
Claim to fame: First model born in the 2000s to achieve the “Big Four” of magazine covers (American Vogue, British Vogue, Vogue France and Vogue Italia) and youngest winner of the British Fashion Awards’ Model of the Year accolade, which she won in 2018.
Big break: Mainly famous due to modelling right now, but has got a small part in Damien Chazelle’s Babylon, which could be her acting breakthrough.
Secret skill: Ability to put up with a man who irreversibly altered his entire voice box for a role (Austin Butler).
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Yes, in a recent interview with Elle she said: “I won’t deny the privilege that I have. Even if it’s just the fact that I have a really great source of information and someone to give me great advice, that alone I feel very fortunate for.
“My mom always joked, ‘If I could call and book a Chanel campaign, it would be for me and not you.’ But I also have met amazing people through my mom whom I now get to work with.”
Nepo connections: His father is Jerry Maquire and Men of Honour actor Cuba Gooding Jr
Claim to fame: Starred in the unexpectedly well received 2022 Scream reboot called… Scream.
Big break: Appeared as the school heartthrob in Olivia Wilde’s critically acclaimed directorial debut Booksmart
Secret skill: Interpretative classical dancing (just ask Beanie Feldstein).
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? No.
Nepo connections: Her mother is actress Uma Thurman aka the Queen of Quentin Tarantino movies, and her father is Before Sunrise and Sinister actor Ethan Hawke.
Claim to fame: As Robin in season three and four of Stranger Things
Big break: Played Jo March in the 2017 TV mini-series adaptation of Little Women alongside Kathryn Newton and Michael Gambon, but was sadly upstaged just two years later by Saoirse Ronan.
Secret skill: Inherited her parents’ charisma.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Yes, and Hawke’s response may be one of the simplest, and best. “I’m very grateful for the fact that [my parents] made it so easy for me to do the thing that I love," Hawke told PEOPLE in 2021.
“I think I’ll get a couple chances on their name and then if I suck, I’ll get kicked out of the kingdom. ... And that’s what should happen. So I’m just going to try not to suck.” Love her.
Nepo connections: She’s the daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, but her grandmother, actress Tippi Hedren, was also Alfred Hitchcock’s muse.
Claim to fame: Nowadays Johnson is all about low budget, sexy psychological thrillers - The Lost Daughter, Suspiria, A Bigger Splash. But she used to be famous for an altogether different kind of sexy movie… (No, not that kind.)
Big break: Yes. The unapologetically horny Fifty Shades of Grey movies, opposite Jamie Dornan.
Secret skill: Character assassinating daytime TV hosts
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? A little - when asked about her upbringing as a child of actors in this 2022 Vanity Fair interview, she said: “My life is incredibly lucky and privileged, and the life I led growing up was remarkable - the places I went and how we lived and what we were able to experience," she told Vanity Fair in 2022.”
Nepo connections: Daughter of musician Lenny Kravitz and actress Lisa Bonet.
Claim to fame: She’s Catwoman in the latest Batman, and the reason for this viral tweet:
Saw Batman, here’s my review:
A girl audibly moaned when Zoe Kravitz came on screen. pic.twitter.com/EYlMKbkAtB
— PHΛЯΛӨH (@PH7RAOH) March 4, 2022
Big break: In X Men first class as a flying mutant, and then Mad Max: Fury Road as one of the captive wives.
Secret skill: Cheekbones that could cut glass
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Yes, with a disappointingly tone deaf response. “It’s completely normal for people to be in the family business,” she told GQ. “It’s literally where last names came from. You were a blacksmith if your family was, like, the Black family.” She does also mention, though, that she’s harboured a “deep insecurity” since her teens that she’s less deserving of success because she’s the child of famous parents. She’s really halfway to self awareness and I’m excited for when she gets there.
Nepo connections: Son of actor Jude Law and actress Sadie Frost.
Claim to fame: Appeared alongside Michael Cane is the action-fueled crime-thriller take on Oliver Twist. Rita Ora was also in it, though.
Big break: Upcoming - he’s cast in an American war series alongside Austin Butler, Barry Keoghan and Callum Turner. Guaranteed breakthrough.
Secret skill: Being the spitting image of his dad.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? No.
Nepo connections: Her mother is Carrie Fisher, who in turn is the nepo baby product of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher
Claim to fame: Nailed the kooky popular girl role in both Booksmart (alongside fellow nepo baby Mason Gooding) and Ticket To Paradise, with Julia Roberts and George Clooney.
Big break: As the earmuff wearing Chanel No 3 in Scream Queens.
Secret skill: Can really pull off a pair of earmuffs.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Not really, apart from when she talked about her cameo in Carrie Fisher’s final Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, where Lourd could be seen rocking her mother’s signature hairdo. “Some people carry on their family name, some people carry on holiday traditions - I was going to carry on the family hairstyle,” she wrote in an op-ed for TIME following her mother’s death. “So after we tested a few other space-appropriate hairstyles, we decided to embrace the weird galactic nepotism of it all and went with the mini-Leia buns.” As all the nepo baby defences go, this one’s the heartbreaker. We’ll let Lourd slide.
Nepo connections: Daughter of Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.
Claim to fame: Turning up to the Chanel show this week and achieving immediate It Girl status.
Big break: Jury’s out on this one - the 18-year-old has yet to dip her toe in the showbiz pool, but there’s plenty of time.
Secret skill: Anya Taylor-Joy eyes.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? No, she’s too green.
Nepo connections: Son of Dennis Quaid (The Parent Trap, The Day After Tomorrow) and Meg Ryan (When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail).
Claim to fame: The Boys, Amazon’s irreverent superhero series, which has proved to be a smash hit.
Big break: Played one of the kids that dies really early in The Hunger Games.
Secret skill: Not looking quite enough like his dad for you to realise he’s a nepo baby on first sight.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Yes, with the same insecurity most nepo babies express but it’s so mild-mannered it’s kind of fine. “I think in the beginning, I was like, ‘Oh, do people like me? Do they think that I’m just riding my parents’ coattails?’ and all this stuff," he told Thrillist last June. "Then lately, I’ve been making an effort to focus on that less and just really trying to embrace this." He added that he even considered changing his name to get away from his parents, but decided against it.
Nepo connections: Her mother is actress Andie Macdowell, who’s most famous for her roles in Groundhog Day and Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Claim to fame: Netflix series Maid, about a single mother escaping domestic violence, which earned her critical acclaim and established her as a serious actress.
Big break: As one of the hippies in Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (barefoot, obviously).
Secret skill: Actually a very good actress.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? No.
Nepo connections: Son of actors Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell.
Claim to fame: Just appeared in the hit Andrew Garfield-helmed series Under The Banner of Heaven.
Big break: 22 Jump Street, the sequel to 21 Jump Street.
Secret skill: Being Kate Hudson’s brother and yet looking nothing like her
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? No.
The Skarsgård clan
Nepo connections: Alexander, Bill and Gustaf Skarsgård are all well known actors and sons of renowned scene stealer Stellan Skarsgard, who has had roles in Mamma Mia, Andor Chernobyl and the Marvel cinematic universe, to name but a few. They also have five (yes, five) other siblings, but they are either just starting out or have chosen not to enter the Skarsgård acting machine.
Claim to fame: Big Little Lies for Alexander, the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s IT for Bill and Vikings for Gustaf.
Secret skill: There’s almost enough of them to form a football team
Big break: Alexander and Bill both got their big breaks playing blood suckers - Alexander in True Blood and Bill in Hemlock Grove, one of Netflix’s earliest originals, whereas Gustaf’s big break is the same as his claim the fame - he starred in Vikings from 2013 to 2020, when the series ended.
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Alexander has, in a surprisingly soul baring response. “I would say I struggle daily with insecurities and desperately trying to find a reason why I don’t deserve a job,” he told The Wrap. “And then the go to is because my dad’s an actor. It’s very convenient. After 20 years in the industry, I still thank my dad for every single job I get.” Not bad, eldest Skarsgård, not bad.
Jaden and Willow Smith
Nepo connections: These famous siblings are the product of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Claim to fame: Willow is now a respected musician and has released five studio albums. Nearly the exact same can be said for Jaden, who has collaborated with the likes of Kid Cudi and Logic, though he only has three studio albums. Jaden has spent more time acting, though, and starred in the Pursuit of Happyness alongside his dad Will in 2006 to rave reviews.
Big break: For Willow, the hit track ‘I Whip My Hair Back and Forth’, for Jaden, a feature on Justin Bieber’s ‘Never Say Never’. 2010 was left quaking.
Secret skill: Lending Willow’s voice to any track then speeding it up 10x makes it guaranteed to go viral on TikTok
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? No.
Nepo connections: Adopted son of actor David Tennant and son of Georgia Tennant (who played David Tennants daughter in Doctor Who - get your head around that one)
Claim to fame: Played Prince Aegon Targaryen in House of the Dragon
Big break: As Daisy Edgar-Jones’ brother in War of the Worlds
Secret skill: Attacking his dad with a baseball bat in Around The World in 80 Days
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Sort of, if this counts https://twitter.com/georgiaEtennant/status/1594324230002335744
John David Washington
Nepo connections: Son of actors Denzel Washington and Pauletta Washington
Claim to fame: Played a superspy alongside Robert Pattinson in Christopher Nolan’s time-bending Tenet in 2020
Big break: As a black detective undercover within the KKK in BlacKkKlansman
Secret skill: Can move through time backwards
Have they addressed their nepo baby status? Yes, he’s another in the shame camp and used to tell people his father was in jail to avoid revealing who he really was - “I saw how people changed when they found out who my father was,” he told outlet Mr Porter in 2020, “I used to lie, saying he was a construction worker or in jail, just to have some sense of normalcy. I felt like there was no way people would take me seriously, even if I was good. They would always judge me. So I hid who my father was. I guess I was protecting myself.”