Emma Roberts attends the 2024 Disney Upfront event
(Dia Dipasupil / Getty)

Emma Roberts Points Out the Sexism in the Nepotism Conversation

Recently, Emma Roberts pointed out the subtle sexism in the ongoing conversation about nepotism in Hollywood, as she can’t help but notice there’s a double standard when it comes to how we talk about male and female nepo babies.

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Interest in nepotism has spiked recently after the term “nepo baby” made a comeback in 2022 after a tweet about Euphoria star Maude Apatow’s famous parents went viral. Now it’s common for the internet to point out nepo babies and for celebrities to face questions about nepotism in interviews. However, it can’t be denied that the nepotism conversation seems to follow women disproportionately. After all, it was Apatow’s parentage that first reignited the nepotism conversation. Since then, prominent subjects of the discussion include Maya Hawke, Hailey Bieber, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zoe Kravitz, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Sofia Coppola. Yet, it’s rare to hear the nepo baby conversation around male celebrities like George Clooney, Robert Downey, Jr., Ben Stiller, Jack Quaid, Cooper Hoffman, or Charlie Hall.

Roberts is among the female celebrities often labeled nepo babies. She has many familial connections to the entertainment industry. Her father is actor Eric Roberts, her step-grandparents are screenwriters David Rayfiel and Lila Garrett, and her aunts are actresses Julia Roberts and Lisa Roberts. It can’t be denied that her family’s deep ties to the industry made it easier for her to break into it and follow in their footsteps. However, what Roberts wants to know is why some people seem to care more about nepotism when it comes to her than when it comes to male celebrities.

Emma Roberts makes an interesting point about nepotism

While appearing on the Table for Two with Bruce Bozzi podcast, Roberts opened up about the nepotism conversation that frequently follows her. She argued that the discussion is more nuanced than people think. For one, Roberts argued that sometimes nepo babies are held to higher standards because of their connections or that sometimes they’ll be pre-judged due to someone’s experiences with their family members.

The most interesting point she made, though, related to the sexism in the nepo baby conversation. She said:

I always joke I’m like, ‘Why is no one calling out George Clooney for being a nepo baby?’ [His aunt] Rosemary Clooney was an icon. Young girls, I feel like, get it harder with the nepo baby thing. I don’t really see people calling out you know, sons of famous actors. Not that they should be called that. I don’t think anyone should be called out wanting to follow their dreams.

As mentioned above, there is strong evidence to back Roberts’ statement, given how frequently the nepotism conversation follows women and girls around. Not only is the nepotism label placed on girls and women so frequently, but the reaction to the label is often harsher when directed towards women than men. For example, the media recently labeled Kevin Costner’s son, Hayes, a nepo baby after the actor cast the teenager in his new Horizon film series. Costner denied the label, and social media quickly started backing the actor, suggesting the nepotism conversation didn’t matter because it’s Costner’s movie, and he can cast whoever he wants.

However, Adam Sandler is another celebrity who tends to cast his family in his movies. Even though his two daughters proved their acting abilities in You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah and brought authentic Jewish representation to the movie, they were still caught in the middle of the nepotism conversation, and their casting choice was dubbed “controversial.”

Sadly, it’s not very surprising that female nepo babies garner stronger reactions than male nepo babies. It’s well known that many people feel threatened by successful women and will do anything to discount or minimize their accomplishments. Female nepo babies get more attention because people are more likely to specifically look for that nepotism with women and are far more eager to point out something that brings their success into question. With men, though, people are more content to assume they’re self-made and deserve fame.

Of course, one shouldn’t just dismiss the entire nepotism conversation as sexism. The privilege of nepotism is still an important factor to consider in the conversation around “wanting to follow their dreams,” as Roberts simplified it. But her argument demonstrates the problem of enforcing a double standard for nepo babies based on gender.

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.