Destry Spielberg on nepotism: ‘My parents don’t give us work’


Last week, a Twitter account called Discussing Film posted a tweet announcing a new project called The Rightway. It was notable because it starred Sean Penn’s son Hopper Penn was directed by Steven Spielberg’s daughter Destry Spielberg and was written by Stephen King’s son Owen King. Franklin Leonard, the founder of The Black List and one of the most notable voices in film and industry critique today, subtweeted it:

Franklin did note in his next tweet that this was, in fact, a short film, however short films also don’t usually get trade coverage to this degree. It was fair commentary. However, possibly because of the influence Franklin carries in Hollywood, it sparked much debate, Many of those who weighed in came from famous families. One such person was Destry Spielberg. Originally, when the discussion first erupted on Twitter, Destry, whose mother is Kate Capshaw, tweeted an acknowledgement of her privilege. However, on Friday, she’d shifted her argument. She posted a video to Instagram Live in which she said that “our parents don’t give us work.”

Spielberg weighed in on the conversation, only briefly, in a now-deleted tweet: “I acknowledge that I was born with privilege! I own that through and through! … No one should be left out because of the connections they don’t have.” Though she didn’t mention the tweets directly during her IG Live, Spielberg nodded to the controversy and recapped her Hollywood journey, a path she said has included few open doors.

“I have literally been trying to get into the film industry for over seven years now,” she noted, after being asked for tips on how to break into the business. “No matter who you are, it is fucking hard. It is hard. My parents…don’t give us work.”

She said that she only has done PA work on her father’s films, a gig she said is “very important” and a great way to break in and network with like-minded creatives. But about the difficulties, Spielberg said that for years she tried to find work as an actress and model, even dropping her last name in the process as a way to make it on her own merits.

“By the way, that doesn’t matter, people still knew,” she said, adding that any press she received always opened with a reference to “Steven Spielberg’s daughter.” “It was always the first thing, so it was like, I literally can’t run away from that.”

Even with a famous father, she said she never booked any work. “I was trying, I was auditioning and I went to school and studied and everything, it just wasn’t happening,” she said, leading her to eventually, “make my own movie and act in it because I don’t know what else to do. I’m not just going to wait around for someone to give me my shot. If I can find people who want to make a movie, I’ll make a movie.”

Her debut was the 2019 short film Rosie in which she starred opposite Echo Anderson, Steven Cox and Braian Rivera Jimenez. She said she never told her parents that she was making a movie until after she was done editing it. Spielberg submitted it to festivals and while it did screen at a few — Soho International Film Festival and Indie Shorts Fest, to name a few — having her last name on it didn’t move the needle. “It didn’t get a lot of press and that’s okay because that happens. It got into some festivals, didn’t get into all. The name can really only do so much.”

Spielberg, who briefly attended USC, transitioned to a film career following a “bad accident” she suffered during her equestrian career, her first true passion. “Before all of this, that’s what I wanted to do forever and ever,” she said of riding. “I wanted to go to the Olympics and that was my life. … Then I had a bad accident and [that was that]. Now, I’m here.”

[From The Hollywood Reporter]

I’ve never seen Destry’s work, so I have no idea if it deserves any kind of recognition. As for whether her parents hand her work, maybe not directly, but definitely indirectly. She ‘briefly’ attended USC, a school that has a building with her father’s name on it. She was an equestrian and fell into acting/directing as a backup when her Olympic career was sidelined. Most people eat, sleep and bleed film only to never get anywhere. Destry has acting, directing and producing credits to her name for projects that are being accepted to film festivals and written up in Deadline. And all in supposedly “seven years.”

Another person who weighed in on Franklin’s debate was Ben Stiller, son of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. Ben, in my opinion, is talented. However, Ben also had a major in-road to his career. Ben and Leonard debated for some time, enough to catch the attention of major outlets and talk shows. Ultimately, Leonard made his point, as he always does because he never speaks without a solid argument, and Ben somewhat conceded. The example to follow on this subject remains the one and only Jamie Lee Curtis, who has never said she doesn’t deserve the career she worked for, but has also fully acknowledged how she got it:

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133 Responses to “Destry Spielberg on nepotism: ‘My parents don’t give us work’”

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  1. Izzy says:

    Bless her heart. She really is going to sit there and try to claim that her last name isn’t the huge career asset everyone else knows it is.

    • STRIPE says:

      “Born on third base and thinks she hit a triple”

      • Still_Sarah says:

        @ Stripe : I was just going to say the same thing. I believe this statement is from Texas political writer Molly Ivin. She was writing about George W. Bush. She called him Shrub.

  2. jbyrdku says:

    I don’t care about Destry, but Jamie Lee Curtis’s New Yorker response was on point!

    • Susan says:

      Agreed! Class and honesty and humility.

    • STRIPE says:

      Jane Fonda had a similar response one interview. When asked how she got her start (or something similar) she said “I’m Henry Fonda’s daughter”

      What these people generally fail to realize is it’s not that people are (necessarily) saying they’re bad at what they do and they wouldn’t be there if not for their parents, or that they didn’t/don’t work hard. What people *are* saying is they had a foot in the door to get their start, and *that* is the hardest part in the entertainment industry, period. I

    • BayTampaBay says:

      Francis Ford Coppla always casted his relatives in roles in many of his films. This is nothing new. Having parents in any industry you are trying yo join is always a foot in the door.

      • STRIPE says:

        Totally! It’s not industry specific and I don’t think anyone would say she should feel bad for her position in life. She didn’t choose her parents. But the frustrating part is her insistence that her name didn’t help, when it so clearly did.

      • Mac says:

        Maybe she’s worried people will assume her work is inferior because she’s just trading on her name. If that’s the case, she could work under a pseudonym.

      • Ana170 says:

        Nicolas Cage uses a pseudonym. Everyone knows he’s a Coppola. Same with Jason Schwartzman.

        No one is thinking Destry’s work will be inferior. John David Washington got his first acting role because a director wanted “someone like Denzel, only younger”. No one ever thought that he wouldn’t be a good actor.

      • Still_Sarah says:

        @ BayTampaBay : Exactly. I went to law school and when some fellow students graduated, they just went to work for their daddy’s firm. Or they got a job at a firm where their parents socialized with the senior partners as said new hire was growing up.

      • Ry says:

        If my parents could have in anyway helped further my career, you’d better believe I’d take it and so would most.

  3. cassandra says:

    What is so hard about saying “Yes, I grew up privileged and have access to a lot of people and opportunities that a random person doesn’t have”.

    And yeah, getting into entertainment is hard af. It’s a hell of a lot harder when you have to worry about following your dreams AND keeping a roof over your head and food in your mouth. Her 7 year ‘struggle’ was probably pretty cushy.

    • Merricat says:

      Made my comment before I saw yours; I absolutely agree.

    • North of Boston says:

      Her first statement kind of said just that.
      And then she deleted it and did a 180.

      The “I was going to be an equestrian* and fell back on film-making when that fell through” combined with being a PA in her father’s films where she says she networked combined with working on projects that – oh look – have major contributors who just happen to ALSO be 2nd gen all the while talking about how she absolutely didn’t benefit from who her parents were means she Really. Does. Not. Get. It.

      I completely understand that being the kid of so and so has its own baggage and drawbacks, but insisting it has no influence on one’s career in show business? Really? That’s the hill she’s going to fight on? Just the project coverage in trades alone is a huge leg up.

      * being an equestrian is an incredibly expensive and time consuming pursuit that requires consistent access to well cared for and trained quality horses and riding facilities and support staff and the ability to travel with your horse and gear to complete all over the place. Not a pursuit for a kid who does not have the privilege of access to very deep pockets and lots of free time. I don’t begrudge her that dream because it’s one I would absolutely would have worked towards if I had her resources, and I can empathize with being crushed and having to change course when an accident ends it all. It the blindness to privilege that’s irritating.

      • Monica says:

        Yes. There’s a reason so many royals are equestrians.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Yeah, that’s the part I found so ridiculous–I couldn’t be an equestrian so I turned to film. Who other than a privileged Hollywood kid could even say that?

  4. Jillian says:

    This reads like satire. Ms. Spielberg, you are completely delusional

    • Bettyrose says:

      Hahahahaa! Privilege doesn’t even describe it. Growing up in a nice home in Omaha with a college fund is privilege. Being the daughter of arguably the most powerful man in Hollywood is … as close to royalty as we have in America. Girl is anointed at birth.

  5. Merricat says:

    80% of success in entertainment is getting your work in front of the right people. 15% is the quality of the work (and if you grow up in the industry, you have a lot of exposure to techniques of craft). 5% is how difficult it is for you to work full time in order to pay bills while also creating your masterpieces.
    I’d like to know how many roommates Ms Spielberg had when she was coming up, and the other many struggles she’s had to face as a young filmmaker. Pffft.

    • Bettyrose says:

      When you drop out of USC due to an equestrian accident and choose a film career as your consolation prize …

      • Rose says:

        This should really end the argument right there. She’s so insulated she doesn’t get it.

      • AA says:

        This cracked me up. This was supposed to make her more relatable? That her Olympic dream was dashed so she became director? Girl, sit down. Also, the stuff about her trying to be a model…giant eye roll.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      Yes, Merricat!
      HOW do you get a person to give your project 5 minutes of your time and attention? How do you get someone to push “play”, how do you get someone to read an article about you? From what I understand, the scientific answer is that a person is more receptive to your project if they have heard your name before. If they see/hear your name at least 7 times, they are vastly more likely to consider listening to your trailer/song, etc. It’s like the human brain can only take so much exposure before it says, “I keep hearing about so-and-so, let’s take a minute to see what their about”.

      If this article just called her “Destry” in the headline, no one would have read it. It is only because of her last name that anyone clicked on this link. Her protests that it doesn’t matter is absurd.

  6. Chaine says:

    Haha this reminds me of Tori Spelling saying the casting people didn’t know who she was when they selected her for a role on Beverly Hills 90210.

    • Merricat says:

      Lol, that’s hilarious.

    • Haylie says:

      Yep. She really wanted us to believe when she showed up at auditions looking like Aaron Spelling in a wig, no one knew who she was? That sounds like a Saved By The Bell plot.

    • Indywom says:

      Sure they didn’t. Your last name is Spelling and unfortunately, you looked like your Dad. Why won’t people acknowledge that they had a leg up? What would impress me more if they acknowledged that privilege and then turned around and give someone who isn’t an insider an opportunity.

      • Becks1 says:

        Remember she used to insist that she auditioned under a different name lol.

      • Bettyrose says:

        The funniest thing is that Tori’s name couldn’t even get her the part of Kelly. Daddy wouldn’t go that far on a show he wanted to be successful. But it did get a part written just for her that in season 1 barely has any speaking lines. 🤣

  7. minx says:

    So, she can only be an equestrian or a film director? Nothing else? That’s it?

  8. Becks1 says:

    At least she acknowledges her life of privilege? But then doesnt seem to actually acknowledge it? Most people don’t have the means to competitively ride at that level, and then when that doesn’t pan out for whatever reason they can try modeling or acting or directing and if they can’t “get work” they’ll just make their own movie. And she admits that she worked as a PA on several of her father’s films. I feel like that alone is going to give you a boost up.

    Anyway, I just think people take the charge of “nepotism” too personally almost. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have any talent. But it does mean that your family connections are going to give you a boost and it is something that is present at all levels (check out your local elementary school play production lol.) Maybe being a Spielberg hurt her, maybe it didn’t, when it came to specific roles and jobs, but having access to her family’s connections, insider knowledge, and money was always going to help her.

    • questions says:

      For massive success (not related to any of her father’s films), I can see her name not having helped much. To get an actual job, I think her name definitely helped. But to achieve Julia Roberts level success (if such a thing exists anymore) I can see how her name didn’t make a difference. I wonder if that’s the measuring stick she’s using.

      To be honest, until I read this post, I had not much of an idea about her. There are some nepotism kids I’ve always been aware of (I.e Gwyneth Paltrow and now probably her daughter, Apple). And then there’s a whole bunch of other ones I wonder why they’re not as famous. Even the lack of phenomenal success among Meryl Streep’s kids has struck me as puzzling. They look and sound exactly like her — you’d think it would help more. So why some nepotism kids stand out over other ones is a bit fascinating.

      • Becks1 says:

        Yeah I said something very similar below. Nepotism doesn’t guarantee you success. But it does get your foot in the door and opens avenues to you that are not open to other people, and it sounds like she is completely unaware of that.

      • line says:

        In the arts (cinema, music, theater … etc) nepotism allow you to have opportunities that other people like madame y and mister x whose parents are not rich or in the trade have. But this does not guarantee success because its trades which depend on the public.

        If your projects are flops, at a certain point the producers will stop funding or committing you to projects. The best example is Cara Delevigne, she had full of leading roles but most of all of these films have been box office flops (Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Pan, Ever). Maybe now she still to still gets roles but in films with smaller budget.

        Then if you are really mediocre nepotism you will not save at least in the cinema and in music.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        Your name can get you in the door, but if you don’t have talent, you’ll be doing Hallmark films and reality shows the rest of your life. But that foot in the door…. that’s the golden ticket.

      • North of Boston says:

        With Meryl Streep’s daughters I think it’s worth considering that there are different ways to define “success”.

        Thinking about Mamie Gummer, she may not be a household name/movie star, but she seems to have carved out a solid career as a respected working actress across film, theater and tv. And she’s someone who when I see her name in the cast list, it makes me more interested in watching the project.

      • questions says:

        That’s true. I think “success” is defined differently according to the individual.

        I feel Steven Spielberg’s daughter might be measuring her success against her father’s, which is probably why she thinks she hasn’t been helped much.

        I do find Mamie Gummer legitimately talented. So I don’t really care if she benefits from nepotism. If you’re entertaining me, I don’t care how you got there.

      • Haylie says:

        Hmm… side note, but now you have me wondering if indeed we have film stars today that are box office gold like Julia Robert’s. From this current generation.

      • Becks1 says:

        @Haylie – I can’t really think of one, if we exclude the superhero movies. Like I don’t think ScarJo is a considered a box office draw outside of Marvel, is she? I think for a while there Jennifer Lawrence may have been close but I don’t think so anymore. There are very few stars out there now where I am just flat out interested in seeing what they are doing next, out of the current generation.

  9. Aurora says:

    It’s no wonder the US has to import trained British actors when they want “authentic” performances with gravitas. So many White American actors are beneficiaries of nepotism with be little to no actual training. We are not truly seeing the best American talent in Hollywood films and television. We are merely seeing the best connected “talent”.

    • Merricat says:

      Lol. It’s fractional. We still manage to have plenty of talented actors with “gravitas.”

    • minx says:

      That’s a pretty broad brush. There are lots of excellent American actors who aren’t someone’s relative.

    • Grant says:

      Too bad most of those “trained British actors” can’t manage an American accent to save their lives.

      • AlpineWitch says:

        In some movies, like fantasy or sci-fi, having an American accent is irrelevant. The obsession with an accent, unless it’s a relevant part of the character and story, should die a slow death….

    • Ann says:

      That’s nonsense, there are plenty of trained American actors with gravitas. The USA has some amazing theater training programs, such as Yale Drama School, which I think Meryl Streep attended?

      I’m not sure why they import British actors, but it’s not for lack of American talent. And in many cases they would be much better off not going for the “British Prestige” factor because it’s true, Brits can’t manage American accents, not region-specific ones. Cumberbatch’s Southern accent in “Twelve Years A Slave” was all wrong, as is Damian Lewis’s Staten Island one on “Billions.”

      • North of Boston says:

        There are plenty of actors from the UK who manage an American accent just fine, just as there are plenty of American actors who are skilled and talented performers. The broad brush only goes so far.

        I can see there are differences when speaking in generalities, that say UK actors have more of a reputation of being theatre trained and capable of “gravitas” and the overall pool of LA/Hollywood actors has a reputation of having more model/actors AKA “mactors” than UK (or even NY)

      • MElly says:

        Damien Lewis’ character in Billions was from Brooklyn, not Staten Island

      • HeyJude says:

        Meryl Streep might have gravitas, but she too is not nepotism free. Mike Nichols is her cousin and she began acting right when he has the biggest movie on the planet.

        She also really got her come up when she became partners with The Godfather’s John Cazale.

      • Anne Call says:

        We just started watching the Wine Show and hearing Matthew Rhys speak in his regular welsh accented speaking voice was a bit shocking and almost humorous. Have only seen playing Americans in the Americans tv series and Perry Mason.

      • North of Boston says:

        Not sure I put Streep in the nepotism bucket for that. She started getting attention for her stage work in NYC early on, with Joseph Papp and Shakespeare in the Park, including Taming of the Shrew with Raul Julia, probably around the same year she and JC got together (? 1975) . He became part of her “network” sure, but she got herself started

        Also, didn’t she learn she was related to Nichols on Finding Your Roots? Or through some other Henry Louis Gates project? And only distant cousins? It’s not like she grew up going to family BBQs with him.

    • Malificent says:

      You mean the trained British actors who are all from posh families because middle and working class British actors can’t afford to get a foot in the door?

      • Ann says:

        Thank you! It’s true, isn’t it? Sure, plenty of successful American actors come from acting families or from money/status but there are just as many who don’t. Redmayne and Cumberbatch, both very talented, are also both Posh/Connected. Wasn’t Redmayne’s father the choir director for the Queen, basically?

        Those are just two prominent examples that come to mind. I know there are many others. It seems like lately when there is some breakout British actor I find out he/she went to Cambridge. And that’s fine, but I always like to see more representation from different educational socioeconomic backgrounds.

        It doesn’t seem like this was true in the last half of the 20th century. Michael Caine, Dudley Moore….both from modest backgrounds.

    • Jaded says:

      Oh…I’d say Samuel L. Jackson has gravitas, Morgan Freeman has gravitas, Robert DeNiro has Gravitas, Denzel Washington, Dustin Hoffman, Kate Winslett, Cate Blanchett, Charlize Theron, Glenn Close, Frances McDormand, Annette Benning, Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis…all and many, many more have gravitas.

      Your opinion is baseless.

      • Becks1 says:

        @Jaded I agree with your overall point but some of the actors you listed are not American 😂

  10. AnnaC says:

    She says her father never gave her work but she also states she worked as a PA on several of his films…and am betting she wasn’t the PA making the coffee runs.

    I also wonder if she’s just a really bad actress/director/model if she truly wasn’t getting jobs or interest in her work. And as someone else wrote, equestrian or actor/director were the only options?! Sure, if you don’t have to actually worry about how to pay for food, shelter, etc.

    • Gina says:

      I stumbled over that too! He didn’t give you work but you were a pa on his sets…
      Just accept your privilege and use it to help talent with less fortune!

      • Esmerelda says:

        I read that as she was so little talented/competent that not even her own father would give her a second unit assistant director job/a bit part.
        She has a whiny tone, like she somehow wanted to be Sophia Coppola and she’s pissed it didn’t happen for her.

  11. Amy Bee says:

    These nepotism hires just need to acknowledge that they get jobs because of who they’re related to. It still doesn’t make it right but it’s better than declaring they got there on merit and hard work.

    • Becks1 says:

      And the thing is, if you are a good enough talent on your own, people forget about your family in the long run. Your name may get you in the door but I don’t know that many people who want to see a Ben Stiller movie because of his father – they want to see it because they like Ben Stiller and enjoy his movies. Mariska Hargitay hasn’t been on SVU for 20 years because of her parents. People like her as Olivia Benson. I think nepotism can get you in the door and give you a HUGE leg up but its not going to be what gives you staying power (most of the time.) And who is really like, oh Jamie Lee Curtis, she’s okay, but I want to see Halloween because of her mother.

      When you start to run down the list, nepotism has always been a thing in Hollywood (carrie fisher is another one) so for Spielberg’s daughter to act like its a non-issue is almost cute.

      • Bettyrose says:

        I agree that nepotism only opens the door but Ben Stiller? He’s more famous than his dad. I weirdly have known two different people who grew up in the same building as him. And I don’t live in NYC. Never have. Just a random thing.

      • Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

        Becks1, I agree. Having a relative in the industry can certainly get your foot in the door and expose you to the techniques of acting or directing, but it does not guarantee talent. There are a lot of middling performers who get roles because of connections, but there is also Jamie Lee Curtis (as mentioned above), Mariska as you brought up, and then also Angelica Huston, Danny Huston, Ron Howard, Tracee Ellis Ross, Emilio Estesvez and Drew Barrymore. You could throw in Charlie Sheen, Christian Slater, Isabella Rossellini and Chris Pine as well. Their success and talent has certainly eclipsed the names that got them in the door.

      • Becks1 says:

        @Songs LOL I didnt realize that a lot of those people you mentioned had connections (I mean I knew some of the obvious ones.) but Chris Pine?

        Drew Barrymore is interesting to me – has anyone ever asked her about this, or is just so obvious that someone who is part of the Barrymore dynasty and whose godfather is *checks notes* steven spielberg and was in significant movies from a young age benefited from her family name and connections? I feel like she’s kind of an unusual case.

      • Nic919 says:

        I think Ben made that argument with Leonard in that he acknowledged the parent with a famous name gets you in the door, but if you aren’t any good, they won’t keep giving you the work.

        I don’t know what Destry Spielberg thinks she’s doing by not even acknowledging the huge leg up she has in the industry.

      • AnnaC says:

        Chris Pine’s dad is Robert Pine. He’s a character actor mostly, lots of guest spots. Probably his most famous gig was on the original Chips back in the 70’s, or was it 80’s. He played Jim’s dad in the wedding episode of The Office.

        I always forget Mariska Hargitay is Jayne Mansfield’s daughter, she has such a different image and looks so much like her father.

      • Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

        Chris Pine’s grandmother was also a ‘scream queen’ and was in dozens of films. She was also a pin-up in the WWII era. His mom was an actress too before she retired.

      • North of Boston says:

        George Clooney, Martha Plimpton, Robert Downey Jr, Helen Hunt, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Alda, Jason Schwartzman , Amy Irving (Spielberg’s ex), Rachel Brosnahan (niece of Kate Spade … then by marriage related to David Spade) , Anjelica Jolie, etc, etc.

        And then the more obvious ones Michael Douglas, Laura Dern, Carrie Fisher, Kate Hudson, Nicolas Cage, Bridget Fonda, Kiefer Sutherland, the Hustons (incl Angelica, Danny and Jack) the Redgraves (incl Joely Richardson)

      • Songs (Or it didnt happen) says:

        I wonder, also, is this view of nepotism strictly for Hollywood (American) performers? I’d be interested in someone from the UK weighing in on if people like Sean Pertwee, Jared Harris and Benedict Cumberbatch are viewed as having had a helping hand in starting their careers.

      • Calibration says:

        there are heaps of British familes. Toby Stephens (james bond villian) is Maggie Smith’s son. there’s most famously the Redgrave family, several generations of actors, Max Minghella, keira knightly’s parents were around the biz, her dad was an actor, her mum a writer, Emma Thompson’s mother is a well known actress phyllida law, and the fox family (the grandfater was in the biz, then James and Edward then the kids Emellia and that douche laurence

  12. OriginalLala says:

    It’s so delusional that all these nepotism celebs can’t just acknowledge that they were offered/given a huge leg up because of their parents fame and connections. It tells you alot about the privilege bubble they grew up in.

    • Lemon says:

      I think it’s social conditioning. Our (American) culture values hard work and earning what you have. So, saying “it’s who I am not what I did” seems shameful in a way.

      But honestly networking and social connections are how people get jobs. Also growing up with a parent who works in the business confers knowledge just by familiarity. My friend and I both have graduate educations. Her dad had a PhD and her mom had an MD. Neither of my parents even had a bachelors. Even though both sets of parents valued education, she knew so much more what to expect and how to manage.

      I don’t think there is any shame in using what you have to get what you want. But posturing and saying “oh it was all ME” is ridiculous. I would respect a “hell yeah I used the help I had!” so much more.

  13. D says:

    If you were a PA on your dad’s films then your parents did in fact get you a job. Did the production coordinator just happen to find your resume? Please. And if she only went to USC for a little bit then she didn’t “train” very hard. Finally, she is a pretty girl but not model material in the least so the fact that she even walked a runway is proof of nepotism.

    • J says:

      You’re much kinder than I am. She is not pretty. At all. She has her Mom’s height but her Dad’s face. And Steven Spielberg is not model material.

      • Anne Call says:

        Yeah, I was going to say that Jane Fonda and Jamie Lee both had famous parents AND they were gorgeous. That combination got them work and then it turned out they were both good actors who could sustain a career. Gwenyth Paltrow also benefited from her looks neither of her parents were super famous.

  14. Ada says:

    Nepotism happens in ALL professions, so I am not sure why this is being singled out. It is not uncommon for children to pursue similar careers as their parents and ultimately benefit from their established connections.

    • Merricat says:

      Lol. Nobody likes nepotism in any workplace, except those who benefit from it.

      • Jenns says:

        Seriously. Did you ever have the kid from a higher-up get hired at your workplace? It’s the worst. To be fair, I honestly don’t think these kids understand what’s going on behind the scenes. But everyone knows who they are and are walking on eggshells while treating them differently.

        And my favorite is when the kid mentions something to their parents how things are being done and then you get a call from management about it.

    • Indywom says:

      I think people are singling it out because the people who benefit from nepotism keep denying their privilege.

    • Haylie says:

      Because when that nepotism hire is unqualified and incompetent, the nepotism hire isn’t going to take the fall. A regular hire with no connections will.

  15. Kate says:

    I can’t say this any other way, but – how was she a model? Not unattractive, but she’s no model. Nepotism there too?

  16. harperc says:

    Owen King’s older brother, Joe Hill, legitimately got his career without his father’s connections. His agent and his editor didn’t know he was King’s son, and it didn’t really come out until after he got popular, as people saw his picture and figured he was King’s son, since he looks so much like his father.

    But all these other examples? Since there’s so many people vying for any kind of chance in the arts, having a name that just happens to be very famous definitely helps.

    But then again, it isn’t just using the name, it it? Especially in Hollywood. It’s people you’ve seen at parties, people who remember you as a kid when they worked with your parents and your grandparents, etc. Hollywood is basically a small town, and the families that have been around for generations know everyone else.

  17. Robyn says:

    Yet ANOTHER case of someone being born on third base (oh who am I kidding….3cm from home plate) and thinking they hit a triple. Maybe these folks are taking the brunt of the frustration because they have famous parents, but it’s like this in every school and industry and us regular folks are TIRED OF IT and can freely say so, so please STFU forever.

  18. Merricat says:

    The best response is to let the work speak for itself. If you’re good, prove it. If you’re not, get out of the way. In either case, words are not required.

  19. Shawna says:

    I’m amazed she isn’t trying this approach: “Because of my parents, I’ve been immersed in the industry since I was born, so it’s always been on my radar and I know a lot about filmmaking culture, both intuitively and technically.” It doesn’t erase the parentage but could help humanize the specific privilege of being born into Hollywood.

    • Haylie says:

      Perhaps. But there’s always the chance that she wasn’t particularly immersed in film or exposed to her parents knowledge.

  20. questions says:

    I suspect in entertainment it might be harder to achieve what passes for success even with nepotism at play. Nepotism has benefitted someone like Gwyneth Paltrow, but to make it really big I think you need the “right look” like she has.

    Nowadays, it’s probably all famous kids competing with each other. I figure the best looking nepotism kids will make it.

    Compared to her dad, maybe Destry Spielberg probably doesn’t see herself as that successful. I wondered if that played into how she answered. She might have a different perception of what constitutes “success.”

    • mazziestar says:

      Makes sense. Hollywood is on what now, the third or fourth generation families? That’s a lot of competition and only so many will really succeed.

  21. DS9 says:

    I am so tired of that people pretending they don’t know to the core of their bones that the circumstances of their birth have given them a hand up even if their parents are not actively giving them a hand out.

    These are not stupid people so they can miss me if they expect me to believe they don’t know they benefit from the connection.

  22. Ninks says:

    Imagine having the last name Spielberg and not being able to get work in Hollywood…. she must be really bad if she struggled to get cast in roles while using her dad’s name.

    • questions says:

      In terms of a “marketable look” I don’t think she’s really that strong in that area. Just from a cursory look of her photos, you can tell she doesn’t have the “it” factor of Julia Roberts or Gwyneth Paltrow. In that sense, I can believe she struggled. She likely didn’t have a problem getting the PA job, but anything in front of the camera was probably something that was more difficult for her.

      I think that’s probably why I’m not too bothered by her statements. I can kind of see why she struggled, but it’s kind of rude to say why I think think she did.

  23. Susan says:

    I feel like responses like hers reek of…insecurity? Like, I know I have white privilege and I am okay with acknowledging it. Doesn’t dim my shine or my hard work, just acknowledging some had a harder path than me.

  24. SarahCS says:

    There is clearly a big gap in the PR market for ‘how to handle the nepotism question 101’ because yikes. Although you’ll also need to go back further and work through the privilege stuff as that’s the root of what we keep seeing, people totally incapable or unwilling to acknowledge their privilege. Unless they’re Jamie Lee Curtis.

    • Meg says:

      Lol yes my thoughts too her dads PR people weren’t consulted before she responded here did she? Or would they not even know how to articulate this either?

  25. Kristen says:

    Honestly it’s not like anyone is blaming them for taking advantage of the connections that they have — I would also do that. People are just asking that they acknowledge that it wasn’t nearly so difficult for them as it would’ve been for someone who lacked those same connections.

  26. Betsy says:

    Both Spielberg and Stiller came off completely delusional in the exchange with Leonard. Like just shockingly unaware of their luck in having the parents they had for the field they wanted.

    • josephine says:

      At least for Stiller, he has a career’s worth of very solid work, so he has something of his own to be proud of. Why he can’t remember how he started, however, is a little mind-boggling. I think his answer should have been that of course his connections helped lauunch his career, but that the career he built was based largely on his talent. YOu can be proud of what you’ve done and still acknowledge your privilege, but I can imagine that Hollywood is a cesspool of insecurity, hence all of the denials.

      • Betsy says:

        Sure! He’s got his own body of work but Jamie Lee Curtis was able to say she was proud of her work but cognizant of her “leg up.” Stiller, too, was insisting that nepotism wasn’t a factor (IIRC the thread) in his success which… come on, guy. That’s just silly. BOTH your parents were famous and well-regarded.

    • HeyJude says:

      The funny thing about Stiller is he literally had double the nepotism. His mother was just as famous as his father. She had her own shows too. And was part of “Stiller & Meara” the comedy duo of course.

  27. Jayna says:

    I consider Bono’s daughter , Eve Hewson, one of the few who are talented. Now, she’s not in the music business, though. I find rocker’s kids who try to go into the same business very few ever really make it or live up to the massive success of their parents in the music industry.

    Her take on her dad’s fame helping her.

    The star of new BBC drama The Luminaries admitted having a rockstar dad did help her to get a break in Hollywood, but also believes it gave people low expectations of her acting abilities.

    Hewson, 28, told the Radio Times: “In the beginning, I think it was easier for me to get in the door. Some of the friends I went to Tisch [New York School of Arts] with are the most talented actors but have found it difficult to get an audition.

    “That’s never been a problem for me, and I think that’s because of my family. That’s not the way the system should work, of course, but if the door is open, walk through the door. It can then become a bit of a hindrance, because they can’t separate you from your father or see you as an individual. Often, they have very low expectations, and they really don’t think you’re going to be good. And then you are quite good, and they are quite surprised.”

    • (TheOG) Jan90067 says:

      You know, this is something I’ve thought about as well. My nephew just graduated from Tisch this past June. I’d flown in to see most of his shows (singing and acting), and I really have been blown away with how talented most of these kids are. And then I thought about how many will actually be a *working* actor, being able to make a living at it, and which ones will make it up to the next level of being a *star*, and then which will catapult up to *STAR* level, of being a known name with consistent starring work.

      Sadly, w/out those connections to get you that boost, it’s fractional at best.

  28. questions says:

    Why some people achieve success in entertainment and others don’t is a little less straightforward than it is in other fields. And the definition of “success” there seems to be built on some kind of hierarchy that seems to make even successful people feel as though they’re not successful. I sort of get why some of them would be defensive.

  29. Lena says:

    I love Jaime Lee snd her response. You have two people to choose between and one will get more interest in the project because of who their parents are you will choose that person. If you’re fans of someone I think it’s natural to be interested in their offspring as well. I know I was interested in Eve Hewson’s work after following Bono for years.

  30. Ariel says:

    I am assuming Jamie Lee made that statement later in her career- she is wonderful.
    But here is my optimistic hope, that these over privileged, delusional dopes mature, leave their insecurities -that make them do this bravado about how it is ALL THEM- behind, and fess up to an understanding of reality at some point.
    But wow, they just sound like a**holes.

  31. teehee says:

    Both can be true.

    People give you better chances but you still ALSO have to (or at least ought to) work hard and truly prove you deserve that chance.

    Unfortunately, we seem to be shown a lot of people who don’t put in much effort and ride on their good graces and hence I can understand wanting to dissociate from that.

    But it’s like a regular 9-5 career too: we “common folk” can also get hired on recommendations and connections, but it doesn’t mean we are better or worse at our jobs. Eventually, it takes more than a good reputation to get paid. A name or connection is just the starting point– but it’s there.

    If we want to back it up, we can admit it takes a large capital to pursue any arts so that is already an advantage that only the more wealthy can survive- which a child cannot provide itself with.

  32. Deanne says:

    She’s delusional if she thinks that she’d have any of these opportunities if she was just some regular USC dropout with no family connections. The defensiveness and arrogance in her response just drives home the way privilege blinds people to the reality of how different life is for regular people. If she was a PA on her Father’s set, he gave her work. Full stop. Also, her PA experience would be a lot difference than most people’s, because she’d be treated much better due to who her Father is. No one would tear a strip off of her for screwing up a coffee order or dare to scream at her in front of her Dad if she displeased them. She’s earned nothing.

  33. Steph says:

    I just googled her. She’s only 24. I don’t know how old any of these pics are but she only looks that young in the pic with Theo and her dad. That’s probably why she didn’t make it modeling. That insane industry only wants 24 year old who look 16.

    Again, the fact that anyone knows her name or has seen her work is bc of her father. She says she trained, took classes, studied, etc. She didn’t do that until after an accident in college. She’s only 24. She hasn’t been at it all that long. I think in a decade her name will be huge and nepotism will have played a part.

  34. manta says:

    I just can’t find the reference now but I remember an answer given at the beginning of her model career by Georgia May Jagger.
    She was totally upfront about the leg up she had from her father’s name and her mother’s connections. She acknowledged that, not only they opened doors, they could keep them open for a longer period than for a new comer without relations. She added that Hall could help her navigate the traps of the industry.
    I remember thinking wow a nepotism kid who actually took 2 minutes to craft a correct answer about nepotism.

  35. Ersatz says:

    Yeah, and she sure worked with Stephen King’s son because she was scooting for scripts and happen to like this one without knowing who wrote it. And chose Penn’s son after a casting call without knowing who he was… That girl is literally demonstrating the privilege she affirms doesn’t exist… What a moron.

  36. Renee says:

    Franklin Leonard owned Ben Stiller. I like Ben Stiller and do believe he is talented. However, he took what Franklin said so personally. I don’t know why he felt like he needed to defend these nepotism kids? EVERYTHING Franklin said was so true.

    P.S. Jamie Lee Curtis is the best celebrity!


    I hope this doesn’t come across as rude, but if she thinks she’s not benefiting from nepotism just because she didn’t “make it” as a model, she is delusional. She doesn’t have the looks- I get it, I don’t either. But come on

    • Allison says:

      When I saw her ‘modeling’ runway photo, I nearly spit out my coffee. Yeah, I said it too. That photo is all the evidence I need here, yikes. I would expect the same reaction if somebody saw a photo of me sashaying down the catwalk alongside actual models.

  38. Valerie says:

    They must not because I’ve never heard of her until this week.

    I love Jamie Lee Curtis for that response, among other things. She just seems like a cool person.

  39. Larisa says:

    If all these kids are so keen to prove their worth, how come they always end up choosing the EXACT same career as their parents? They world is their oyster. They can pick just about any job in the world, they can afford to go to the best college for that job, etc. Go blaze your own trail if you’re so hard working and independent. Very few of these kids are so insanely talented, that it’d be a pity for them to go elsewhere. I’m convinced they go for this job because they are protected from failure and set up for the glory, unlike most people coming into entertainment on their own.
    I mean, think about non-famous people. Not very many I know followed into their parents’ footsteps. And usually when they did, it was for lucrative careers where their connections also afforded them some advantages.

    • questions says:

      The entertainment industry provides high salaries if you play your cards right. I always figured that’s why they choose the same industry. I don’t think the entertainment industry necessarily buffers against failure though — I actually think you’re more likely to fail in it, which is why I don’t really understand the appeal of it to both nepotism kids and regular folks.

      Even well-connected people like Mira Sorvino have to deal with people like Harvey Weinstein making or breaking their careers, so I think “failing” (whatever that means in the context of the entertainment industry) is a strong possibility even with the right connections.

    • Meg says:

      Wow great points.
      a relatives inlaws have a family business and the saying is the first generation builds the business the second generation reaps the benefits of it but the third generation destroys the business. Theyre trying to break that but the saying says a lot

  40. WithTheAmerican says:

    She got auditions, she just failed to get the jobs. GETTING AN AGENT is something that rarely happens to the unconnected these days. You need an agent to get the audition.

    She knew people and they still didn’t want her.

    That says a lot about her lack of talent. People in Hollywood would fall over themselves to get in with her dad through her.

  41. Kkat says:

    Ok so my take away was… He is your father and it took you 7 years of “struggle” to get going in film making???
    You must really suck

  42. Gubbinal says:

    My family is not wealthy or famous, but almost all of us are teachers going back to people from the 19th century and going forward with the career goals of the young children. Something in the family is conducive to people being teachers. The family makes it easy by valuing a college education and work that is worthy and not difficult to find.

    And something genetic disposition in rich and famous families might be conducive to performing in the family role in show-business. But no matter what, only a very few can sustain any level of fame and excellence. Most of these children will end up being as noteworthy as all the children of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

  43. Meg says:

    ‘This is a short film, however short films also don’t usually get trade coverage’
    Ive made numerous short films myself along with my classmates, i do not recall getting coverage like this myself. Wonder why? Lol

    ‘As for whether her parents hand her work, maybe not directly, but definitely indirectly. She ‘briefly’ attended USC, a school that has a building with her father’s name on it. She was an equestrian and fell into acting/directing as a backup when her Olympic career was sidelined. Most people eat, sleep and bleed film only to never get anywhere.’
    Absolutely great points
    ‘cate capshaws daughter ‘ lol

    The imposter syndrome tweet is perfect

    Jamie lee curtis seems to grasp that both can be true at the same time she worked hard and she got a leg up due to her parents

  44. Shanaynay says:

    Oh nepotism does help. I mean look at Kendall Jenner. I think she is a horrible model. She has dead eyes, and I don’t see any personality in her face at all. In my opinion, she’s just blah, but look how far she got because of her name.

  45. Deering24 says:

    Oh, please. Getting consistent PA/crew work or a writing credit gets you union membership, which opens a fair amount of doors. There are few things more insufferable than Hollywood brats swearing their bootstraps don’t stink.