Hailey Bieber is perfectly comfortable with the “nepo baby” discourse.
The model and entrepreneur, 26, sounded off about setting the internet ablaze back in January when she was photographed wearing a cropped white tee with the words “nepo baby” written across the front in black lettering.
In an interview with Bloomberg’s The Circuit, Bieber explained why she decided to lean into the phrase.
“My point to having worn the T-shirt was not to poke fun at it or be like, ‘Yeah I’m a nepo baby haha,’ type of a thing,” said Bieber, who is the daughter of actor Stephen Baldwin. “It was more so to be like, ‘This is what everyone is saying and I want you to know that this is my way of responding to it.’ ”
Bieber went on to explain that she thought it would be funny to wear the shirt and embrace the criticism about the benefits of her famous lineage.
“I’m just going to call myself a nepo baby, because I am one, and I embrace that I am,” she added. “My point to having worn the T-shirt was not to poke fun at it or be like, ‘Yeah I’m a nepo baby haha,’ type of a thing. It was more so to be like, ‘This is what everyone is saying and I want you to know that this is my way of responding to it.’ ”
Bieber went on to say that it’s just another example of how she can never please everyone on the internet, because “nothing’s ever enough.”
“You’re going to sit there and call me a nepo baby all day long, but then I acknowledge it and then I’m not enough of a nepo baby? There is never any winning with the internet, and that’s what I’ve always time and time again realized,” she continued.
What is a nepo baby?
The term “nepotism baby,” or “nepo baby,” originated on social media as a way to point out individuals who have benefited from the privilege of having powerful family connections, such as rising stars like Maude Apatow and Lily Rose Depp. However, the term can also be applied to some staples of entertainment, like Jamie Lee Curtis.
In 2022, New York Magazine declared it “The Year of the Nepo Baby,”stating “We love them, hate them, disrespect them, and obsess over them.”
What have celebrities said about “nepo babies?”
While some stars, like Bieber, have chosen to lean into the term, others have declared that they find it reductive. Curtis, who has had a long career in Hollywood, made it clear she’s no fan of the phrase. The daughter of Psycho star Janet Leigh and Some Like It Hot legend Tony Curtis took to Instagram to declare her distaste for the term, claiming, “the current conversation about nepo babies is just designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt.”
“I have been a professional actress since I was 19 years old so that makes me an OG Nepo Baby,” Curtis wrote. “I’ve never understood, nor will I, what qualities got me hired that day, but since my first two lines on Quincy as a contract player at Universal Studios to this last spectacular creative year some 44 years later, there’s not a day in my professional life that goes by without my being reminded that I am the daughter of movie stars.”
Still, she recognized how being the child of celebrities helped pave the way to her success, while also staking her claim as a talented individual.
“For the record I have navigated 44 years with the advantages my associated and reflected fame brought me, I don’t pretend there aren’t any, that try to tell me that I have no value on my own. It’s curious how we immediately make assumptions and snide remarks that someone related to someone else who is famous in their field for their art, would somehow have no talent whatsoever.”
Curtis isn’t the only big name to speak out about the now-viral term. Singer Lily Allen took to Twitter to criticize it, claiming the analysis is misdirected since “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.”
Euphoria star Apatow, whose parents are actress Leslie Mann and producer and director Judd Apatow, told Net-A-Porterof the discourse, “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.”
Other stars have said they simply chalk up the cycle of celebrity offspring success as being the nature of a familial industry.
“Look, this is a family business,” Tom Hanks said back in January in an interview with The Sun. “This is what we’ve been doing forever. It’s what all of our kids grew up in,” he explained, noting that a fancy last name doesn’t guarantee a pathway to stardom. “It doesn’t matter what our last names are. We have to do the work in order to make that a true and authentic experience for the audience. And that’s a much bigger task than worrying about whether anybody’s going to try to scathe us or not.”
Hailey Bieber explains why she wore a ‘nepo baby’ shirt. Hailey Bieber explains why she wore a ‘nepo baby’ shirt