Nepo babies: Six ways celebrities can raise their children to be equally famous

Our easy guide to raising future stars. Non-famous parents need not attempt

From left, Scott Eastwood, Kaia Gerber and Ben Stiller are considered 'nepo babies', a team linked to enjoying industry connections courtesy of having famous parents. AFP
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Nepo baby. It's the term given to the famous children of equally famous parents. It was popularised last year when social media users started pointing out just how many of today’s young stars are celebrities' offspring.

For every low-key nepo baby like Timothee Chalamet (Broadway actress mother, director uncle, writer-producer aunt), there’s a Blue Ivy (Beyonce and Jay-Z) or a Gwyneth Paltrow (Blythe Danner and Bruce Paltrow), nepo babies who were prepped from birth to take their place beside their parents on the red carpet.

Cindy Crawford’s daughter Kaia Gerber, Jennifer Lopez’s daughter Emme, Will Smith’s children Willow and Jaden, and Judd Apatow’s daughter Maude are merely a few of the nepo babies raised by the rule book.

Here are the six steps to nurturing a nepo baby.

1. Insist you don’t want your child to be famous

Actor Jason Momoa has said he doesn't want his children Lola and Nakoa-Wolf to follow in his footsteps. Photo: FilmMagic

Famous parents raising the next generation of celebrities like to at least try and pretend they would prefer them to become doctors, lawyers and teachers.

A-list mums and dads who have reached the top of the Hollywood food chain say things like: “I don’t want them to get into acting,” (Jason Momoa); “I would try to steer my daughters away from acting,” (Matt Damon); and, “We're hoping that the kids don't become actors,” (Angelina Jolie).

These kinds of quotes, their publicist likely tells them, make them seem down-to-earth.

2. Attend a fashion show with mum

Left, Camila Alves McConaughey took her son Levi and daughter Vida to Paris Fashion Week; right, Kim Kardashian attended the Balenciaga spring/summer 2015 show with her then 15-month-old daughter, North. Getty Images

Once a celebrity son has cheekbones and celebrity daughter “styles herself”, the next step is to attend a fashion show with mum. This will be dubbed a “rare appearance” in magazine headlines.

Camilla Alves McConaughey showed how it was done recently, taking her and Matthew McConaughey’s children, Levi, 14, and daughter Vida, 13 to Paris Fashion Week.

A fashion show is the perfect launch pad because a) there’s no age limit — think North West front row at Balenciaga aged 15 months; b) it shows that you’re “serious” about celebrity; and c) there are lots of cameras around.

3. Hit the red carpet with dad

Casie Colson Baker joined dad Machine Gun Kelly for the 2021 American Music Awards. FilmMagic

While mums attend fashion shows, dads are responsible for the red carpet debut.

Colson Baker aka Machine Gun Kelly took his daughter Casie, then aged 12, to the 2021 American Music Awards, while singer Seal took daughter Leni, 18, to the premiere of Shotgun Wedding in January this year.

In December, Spider-Man star Tobey Maguire brought his daughter Ruby, 16, to the premiere of his new film, Babylon. However, Ruby doesn’t need any extra help at all because her godfather is Leonardo DiCaprio.

4. Do a mother-daughter magazine cover shoot

From left, Kate Moss and daughter Lila on the cover of Vogue Italia; Catherine Zeta-Jones and daughter Carys on the cover of Town & Country; and Cindy Crawford and daughter Kaia on the cover of Vogue Paris. Photos: Conde Nast, Hearst

Crawford, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Heidi Klum and Kate Moss are just a few of the stars who graced magazine covers with their daughters.

In 2018 Welsh actress Zeta-Jones, who is married to Hollywood star Michael Douglas, appeared alongside daughter Carys, then aged 15, on the cover of Town & Country with the headline: “Hollywood royalty raised right. Introducing Carys Zeta Douglas.”

Kate Moss’s daughter Lila received a boost to her modelling career in 2016 with a Vogue Italia cover alongside mummy, aged just 13. In the same year, Crawford appeared on the cover of Vogue Paris with daughter Kaia aged 15.

5. Star in parent’s film or TV show

Oscar-winner Kate Winslet starred alongside her daughter Mia Threapleton in I Am Ruth. Photo: Channel 4

Once the publicity ball is rolling and the nepo baby can generate headlines, it’s time to collaborate. The nepo baby must be handed a career on a plate and the easiest way to do that is by starring in one of their parent's projects.

Mia Threapleton first acted alongside her mum Kate Winslet in 2014’s A Little Chaos, returning to co-star again in last year’s British TV series I Am Ruth.

Euphoria’s Maude Apatow not only made her acting debut in her writer-director father Apatow’s 2007 hit Knocked Up, she went on to star in three more of his projects, Funny People, This is 40 and the TV show Girls.

Scott Eastwood has also turned his famous surname to his advantage, making his big screen debut in Flags of Our Fathers, following up with Gran Torino and Invictus. Guess who directed them all? His dad, Clint.

See also: Willow and Jaden Smith, Lily-Rose Depp and Colin Hanks.

6. Hone your nepo baby accusation response

When the nepo baby discourse exploded at the end of last year, celebrity offspring hit back with responses that ranged from angry denial to worthy acknowledgement. Today’s nepo baby should choose which response to use carefully.

Option one: The ‘actually I have to work harder’ response

“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.” — Carys Zeta Douglas, daughter of actors Douglas and Zeta-Jones

Option two: The ‘refuse to accept the accusation’ response

“Showbiz, as we all know, is pretty rough, and ultimately is a meritocracy … untalented people don’t really last if they get a break because of who they are or know or are related — Ben Stiller, son of actors Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara

Option three: The ‘yeah, and…?’ response

“This is just a business that, luckily for me, and not like a lot of actors, it was able to kind of just fall into my lap. I was given the opportunity with almost no preparation.” — Hopper Penn, son of Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn

Option four: The correct response

“To not acknowledge that me getting started as an actress versus someone with zero connections isn’t the same — it’s ludicrous. It doesn’t take anything away from the work that I’ve done. It just means that it’s not as fun to root for me.” — Allison Williams, daughter of former NBC anchor Brian Williams

Updated: March 18, 2023, 5:57 AM