Lily Allen has spoken out in defence of “nepo” babies in the entertainment industry, and the internet has thoughts. The term “nepo baby” — short for “nepotism baby” — has been trending on social media as people have been discovering their favourite stars have famous parents or influential connections that helped with their career. While some consider this a perhaps unfair advantage with breaking into a competitive industry, others are of the opinion that networking is a necessity in all walks of life.
While nepotism is nothing new, with famous families forming the foundations for a lot of the entertainment business, Allen tweeted on 19 Dec. that it’s not just exclusively reserved for the world of film, tv, and music. “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. BUT that’s none of my business,” she wrote. Allen, who is the daughter of actor Keith Allen and film producer Alison Owen, added, “And before you come at me for being a nepo baby myself, I will be the first to tell you that I literally deserve nothing.”
In true Twitter-storm form, followers were quick to respond and question her privileged upbringing. Allen, who is also the sister of “Game of Thrones” star Alfie Allen, responded to comments by explaining that “nepo babies” are, contrary to popular belief, often starved of stability, love, and nurturing because famous parents “are probably narcissistic”, adding that a lot have “childhood trauma”.
“There is a severe lack of representation in the industry where class and race are concerned. Everyone loses as a result.”
A passionate debate online ensued, with many criticising Allen for not fully acknowledging her elite position. The actor, who is married to “Stranger Things” actor David Harbour, returned to Twitter on 20 Dec. with a follow-up message to clear some things up. The mum-of-two wrote that she had a “fraught relationship” with some of her own family members and, as a result, found it difficult to “attribute successes to them” when she was younger. Now at the age of 40 and more content in her life, she recognises it’s important to disclose the privileged upbringing she was afforded.
Allen went on to acknowledge “there is a severe lack of representation in the industry where class and race are concerned. Everyone loses as a result.” She added that, in the big picture, “nepo babies” are not the main priority when needing to make systemic changes. “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.”
While some of our most-loved stars could be classed as “nepo babies”, take Maya Hawke from “Stranger Things” or “Euphoria”‘s Maude Apatow for example, Allen is right that there is a wider conversation to be had, in a range of industries. “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.” Whatever your feelings about “nepo babies”, Allen has opened up the floor for important discussions to be had.