Lily-Rose Depp has landed herself in hot water over her recent comments about nepotism.
In case you aren’t aware, Lily-Rose is the 23-year-old daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis.
Having appeared in numerous movies, including Netflix’s The King, alongside her ex-boyfriend, Timothée Chalamet, Lily-Rose has developed a large and dedicated fanbase, boasting 6.8 million followers on Instagram.
Aside from her acting credits, Lily-Rose is perhaps best known for being a model. She has appeared on countless magazine covers and, like her mother before her, is a longtime ambassador for Chanel.
On top of her mom’s links with the French fashion house, her own relationship with Chanel goes back a long way too, having first met Karl Lagerfeld, the brand’s creative director, with her mother when she was only 8 years old.
Eight years later, she fronted her first campaign for the brand at 16, and by the year 2017, graduated to the Chanel runway after being hand-picked by Karl Lagerfeld himself to appear as the coveted couture bride.
Thanks to her ambassadorship, Vogue declared in 2021 that Lily-Rose is now “as synonymous with the house of Chanel as tweed jackets, strings of pearls and artfully pinned camellias.”
And with her set to embark on her first major TV role in HBO’s The Idol alongside The Weeknd, the young star is keen to hit back against any accusations that she may have been handed any of this for free.
But, before we get into it, we must first acknowledge that the concept of nepotism has long been a touchy subject in Hollywood.
The term is used to describe the form of privilege granted to those born into wealthy and well-connected families. And one thing that Lily-Rose has in common with the likes of Dakota Johnson, Kaia Gerber, and many others with celebrity parents, is that they have been branded online as “nepo babies.”
The nickname carries with it the weight of accusations that so-called nepo babies have had their thriving careers handed to them thanks to their families’ wealth, status, and connections, and that they’ve not truly had to work for their success in the way that their less privileged peers may have.
However, for her part, Lily-Rose thinks this narrative is “weird” and wants no part in it.
During an interview with Elle this week, the 23-year-old reflected on her life spent in the spotlight, acknowledging that her early years were remarkably different from those of an average child.
“I know my childhood didn’t look like everybody’s childhood,” she said of growing up with famous parents. “It’s a very particular thing to deal with, but it’s also the only thing that I know.”
Later in the chat, the writer broached the “nepo baby” label, prompting Lily-Rose to confess that she’s “familiar” with the discourse. “The internet seems to care a lot about that kind of stuff,” she said.
So, despite her extraordinary childhood, Lily-Rose was eager to express that this didn’t necessarily give her a leg up when trying to land jobs in the industry.
“People are going to have preconceived ideas about you or how you got there, and I can definitely say that nothing is going to get you the part except for being right for the part,” she said.
“The internet cares a lot more about who your family is than the people who are casting you in things,” she added, before discussing the work that is required to maintain success. “Maybe you get your foot in the door, but you still just have your foot in the door. There’s a lot of work that comes after that.”
Continuing, Lily-Rose appeared to suggest that the “nepo baby” commentary has sexist undertones, pointing out that she doesn’t often see it applied to her male counterparts. “I just hear it a lot more about women, and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence,” she mused.
And in an attempt to better explain her stance on the topic, Lily-Rose made an analogy about the medical field, arguing that if someone whose parents were doctors also pursued the same career, they wouldn’t face the same kind of scrutiny.
“It’s weird to me to reduce somebody to the idea that they’re only there because it’s a generational thing. It just doesn’t make any sense,” she began.
“If somebody’s mom or dad is a doctor, and then the kid becomes a doctor, you’re not going to be like, ‘Well, you’re only a doctor because your parent is a doctor.’ It’s like, ‘No, I went to medical school and trained,’” she said.
And despite her best intentions, it seems that her thoughts on nepotism didn’t fully resonate with readers, many of whom took to social media to express their confusion over her analogy.
“its really not even close to being the same thing lmao,” one person wrote on Twitter about the comparison between doctors and actors.
“lmaooo what was the training required for becoming a Chanel ambassador at 16?” someone else joked.
Another user made the observation that nepotism isn’t solely limited to the same profession as your family, but rather about utilizing their connections and resources to succeed in any competitive industry.
“Nepo is not about being in the same industry than your family, is about using the connections of your family name to easily become successful in that industry, not always is purposefully done but it still is real, her having the Depp last name definitely has given her advantage,” they wrote.
Others highlighted flaws in her argument by pointing out that while you may be able to use your parents’ connections to secure a spot in med school, actually succeeding as a doctor is much less dependent on “networking” than in the showbiz industry.
“And guess what? It’s easier for doctors’ kids to get into med school. And even so, medicine is quite a bit less dependent on networking than acting,” someone tweeted. “There are people who went to theater school who are more talented than you who don’t get roles because they’re not JD’s daughter.”
“It’s like getting to the last year of medical school and not having to pass the exams,” another user quipped.
In response to this, some critics argued that the holes in Lily-Rose’s example illustrate the lack of “perspective” that privileged people have when it comes to the “average person.”
“This is the problem with rich people born into privilege,” they tweeted. “They have literally no perspective on what the average person has to do to just get the resources and opportunities they were born with.”
Another user replied suggesting that the bigger issue at hand is with celebs’ failure to acknowledge where they might have received a leg up.
“It’s not wrong to be born into privilege but it is also weird to pretend that that privilege has nothing to do with their respective success,” they said.
Echoing this frustration, a second person wrote that they’re growing “tired” of the same discussions about nepotism.
“I’m so tired of nepo babies believing they really got to where they are based off of merit,” they said. “They’ll admit to being privileged but never admit that they were already in the door the moment they entered this world.”
Interestingly, Lily-Rose has previously acknowledged the help she got from her parents, telling W Magazine back in 2019 that her journey to success was made “easier” by her famous connections.
“I’m not going to say that it doesn’t make it easier to get your name out there,” she said at the time. “Obviously it does. But honestly, to me there’s also something even a little harder about it, because the expectations are so insanely high.”
And with this in mind, one Twitter user theorized that the reason Lily-Rose now appears to be objecting to this narrative in order to make herself seem more relatable to her fans, many of whom are likely a similar age to her.
“i miss when celebrities didn’t care enough to pretend to be ‘just like us’ and literally called everyone outside of their tax bracket poor and lazy cause wtf is this,” they wrote.