Nepotism in Hollywood

does blatant Hollywood nepotism bother you? I’m not sure why but it bothers me that, say, Lily Collins seems to be in lots of movies now. Could it be because Phil Collins is her father? Emma Roberts got a lot of roles - I’m thinking it was because she was Julia Roberts’ niece. Yeah these folks could be plenty talented. So could lots of other actresses without rich, well-connected relatives.
I know this is how the world works but I don’t like my face rubbed in it at the theatre. Does this sort of thing bother anyone else?

No. Nepotism may get you in the door, but if you don’t have the chops, you’re kicked back out.

That’s hardly a response. There are likely plenty of people out there with better acting chops who never get to show them because a space is being taken by someone’s nephew.

Getting in the front door at all is a big advantage since that’s exactly what a lot of people can’t do. Being familiar with performing in general also has to help a lot. But if you do a bad job you’re probably not going to continue to get work just because you’re related to someone else who is famous. That would seem to be a bad investment. It’s not like any Phil Collins fans are out there thinking “I love Phil Collins as a musician, and I wonder if he has any children because I bet they would be good at jobs that don’t include being a musician. I would definitely support them financially.” The same goes for Julia Roberts and a niece.

Using a relation to someone to get your foot in the door isn’t that much different than having a friend or acquaintance help get you in the door, and that’s just networking. I don’t begrudge anyone for using all (legal) tools at their disposal to reach their goals.

Yes, Emma Roberts is Julia Roberts niece. She is the daughter of Eric Roberts, Julia’s brother. How has his career worked out? Phil Collins has another daughter, Joely. She’s an actress too. Are you concerned about her career? Have you ever heard her name before?

Julia is the sister-in-law of Tony Gillan and Eliza Roberts. If you ask who, then my point is made.

Probably every person in Hollywood has a family member in the business. And probably 99% of them you’ve never heard of. So now what do you say about all that blatant nepotism?

That’s undeniablly true, and yet…

Let’s face it, in show biz, getting in the door is 90% of the battle! There are countless great singers, great actors and great musician who will never get that proverbial foot in the door.

Now, I don’t blame celebs for pulling a few strings to get their kids a few gigs. Back in my old neighborhood in New York , plumbers and steamfitters and electricians regularly pulled strings or called in favors to get their own kids into the trade unions. That’s morally about the same as Julio Iglesias pulling a few strings to get Enrique a recording contract. Heck, it’s what you’d EXPECT any parent to do for his kids.

Even so, the reality is, IF my son has any talent as an actor, he’ll have a long, hard road ahead of him, just to get an occasional commercial. IF Apple (Paltrow) Martin has any talent as an actress, she’ll have NO trouble getting loads of auditions.

It only bothers me when it’s obvious they never would have gotten in on a project with their talents alone. Tori Spelling and Sofia Coppola are probably the two biggest offenders.

It’s not so much nepotism as it is that Hollywood is a small town. And, like any small town, people know each other, party with each other, maybe work on projects together at some point. People get to know the families of the people they know, their kids go to school together. Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn and Nick Cage (Coppola) all were in school together.

So, when little Lily (Collins) or Kate (Hudson), etc., decide they want to be in a movie or TV show, they can ask Christian’s (Slater) mom about it. Christian’s mom, who happens to be a Casting Director, if she feels Lily or Kate is not a knucklehead, is likely to say “Sure! Come on down!”, because that actually makes Christian’s mom’s life easier - she doesn’t have to go out and find someone who is an unknown quantity. And it doesn’t hurt that a lot of kids of Hollywood parents are fairly good looking, because their parents are fairly good looking.

Now obviously people of great beauty and talent, who are not children of Hollywood, get noticed too (Tom Cruise comes to mind). But at the end of the day why would Hollywood people turn away their neighbors kid also?

So, it’s nepotism by default, really.

If you’re uncomfortable with this, then you’re uncomfortable with Kiefer Sutherland, Jeff & Beau Bridges, Angelina Jolie, Carrie Fisher and many, many more. I’m okay with it. Well, Liv Tyler, I dunno…

And that’s just Hollywood: the same situation prevails in showbiz throughout the world. Does it bother you that renowned British actress Emma Thompson is the daughter of the renowned actress Phyllida Law and the less-renowned actor Eric Thompson? And that her sister Sophie is also an actress, and that her daughter was already cast as an extra in a movie at age 9? Is one family really just that talented, or are we dealing with the phenomenon of people who know people who know people, etc.?

And if this sort of thing upsets you, don’t even start to think about the Bollywood Kapoor family.

It only bothers me that I am unable to partake in any sweet, sweet Hollywood nepotism. Curse my pedestrian lineage!

Yes, I always blame my current situation on my parents for not being rich and famous. :smiley:

Frankly, the idea of someone even as bad as Tori Spelling getting their foot in the door because of family connections doesn’t bother me half as much as someone like Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton getting their own reality series because… forgive me, why did they get their own reality series?

This has come up before, and I’m always kind of boggled at the people who see nepotism as no big deal. I don’t like it in any context, and in Hollywood, where multimillion-dollar film careers are at stake, it seems especially odious.

Yeah, that’s the way the world works, but that doesn’t mean we should like it, or blithely accept it.

Well, I think the trouble is that, as astorian pointed out, the practice is so natural and universal, and the incredibly high stakes of showbiz stardom are so anomalous and rare.

If the hotel cleaning worker asks the manager to look at her daughter’s application for the available shift because the girl just got out of high school and wants to start earning and she’s a good worker, we smile and nod approvingly: what a great family tradition of work ethic and mutual support! Because, let’s face it, the job of hotel cleaning worker is not particularly enviable and the competition isn’t that fierce.

If the established actress asks the casting director to give her daughter a screen test for the ingenue role* in this great new upcoming film because she just finished filming on a bit part in another movie and she’s quite a talented girl and I think she’d be perfect for the character, darling, we scowl and sneer: what a shameless exhibition of nepotism and string-pulling!

But to be fair, the mother in each case is doing basically the same thing. It’s just that in the first case it seems laudable and natural, but in the second case an unfair exploitation of privilege. The only difference is how high the stakes are for success.

  • Actually, do shows and films even have anything called “ingenue roles” anymore? I’m not THAT old, honest.

You don’t have to accept it. In film (and television) you have the opportunity to vote with your money (or your eyeballs) and give it preferentially to others. This happens every day. And very few people in the business are going to continue gambling their money on someone without talent or charisma or charm or whatever it is that the public likes just because they have the same last name as somebody with these attributes.

And we know that the business works this way because 99% of famous names have unknown first names. Hollywood is probably fairer in this way than almost any other business. You can’t force an actor on the public. They won’t stand for it.

Because they’re related to O.J. Simpson’s lawyer?

Not exactly the only difference - the other difference is how many people would really love to have that job and are perfectly capable of performing in that job but will never never ever get a chance.

Now obviously there is the whole “supply-demand” thing with “actors-acting jobs” and the wisdom of pursuing a career vs some more practical venture, but bottom line it’s natural to feel deeply frustrated if you want to act and you aren’t making any headway in a career and Lily Collins gets to be a star 'cause she grew up in Hollywood.

This doesn’t really address the problem. How do we know there aren’t actors we would like better, who we never got a chance to see because somebody’s niece got the job?

I suppose that to my way of thinking a meritocracy is the ideal (in all situations), and anything that interferes with that I find at least vaguely offensive, whether it’s nepotism, or inherited wealth, or good-old-boy networks, or whatever. And I continue to be surprised (and disappointed, I guess) that others don’t see things that way. The cynical “what-are-you-gonna-do” collective shrug I am seeing here is disappointing.