Allison Williams stands in front of a car in a black coat.

Allison Williams Has the Correct Response to the ‘Nepo Babies’ Discourse

What does it mean to be a “nepo baby?” The term, short for “nepotism baby,” points to actors and other creatives who have launched successful careers thanks to their parents’ industry connections. The discourse around nepotism in the entertainment industry reached a fever pitch in December when Vulture published a feature called “The Year of the Nepo Baby.”

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Although the term is condescending, and an actor can be forgiven for getting defensive about it, it’s also true. If there are a hundred passionate, talented, and hardworking actors for every available role, and the one actor who books the job just happens to come from a family with powerful connections, what does that say about the fairness of the audition process? You see the same pattern in other creative fields. Yes, you have to be good at what you do in order to succeed—but experienced parents can help you cultivate talent that would have otherwise died on the vine, and connections can help get your foot in the door.

In a recent interview with Vulture, actress Allison Williams (Girls, Get Out, M3GAN) acknowledges those frustrating truths. Williams, who’s the daughter of former NBC anchor Brian Williams, says:

All that people are looking for is an acknowledgment that it’s not a level playing field. It’s just unfair. Period, end of the story, and no one’s really working that hard to make it fair. 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.”

Nepotism isn’t just a problem because it shuts talented artists out of jobs in which they would have shined. It determines who gets to devote their life to honing their craft, and who has to put it aside so they can make rent. It affects who gets to tell their stories—whether that storytelling is through acting, writing, or another art form—and what kinds of stories audiences get to see.

As Williams says, being honest about an uneven playing field doesn’t take away from any individual actor’s success. The more honest we are, though, the closer we come to an industry where everyone really does get a fair shot.

(featured image: Gotham/GC Images)


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Julia Glassman
Julia Glassman (she/her) holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and has been covering feminism and media since 2007. As a staff writer for The Mary Sue, Julia covers Marvel movies, folk horror, sci fi and fantasy, film and TV, comics, and all things witchy. Under the pen name Asa West, she's the author of the popular zine 'Five Principles of Green Witchcraft' (Gods & Radicals Press). You can check out more of her writing at <a href="https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/">https://juliaglassman.carrd.co/.</a>