Lily-Rose Depp is the latest star to grace Elle’s cover (alongside her co-star, Blackpink’s Jennie Kim), promoting HBO Max’s forthcoming series “The Idol.” In the accompanying story, which has now been widely circulated, Depp shared some thoughts on being called a “nepo baby” — and let’s just say her remarks have sparked some reactions among major fashion-industry figures.
“I’m familiar. The internet seems to care a lot about that kind of stuff,” Depp tells Véronique Hyland in the interview. “People are going to have pre-conceived 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.”
The 23-year-old then adds: “The internet cares a lot more about who your family is than the people who are casting you in things. 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.”
The term “nepo baby” — short for “nepotism baby” — references the privilege that comes with being part of a wealthy, powerful family. In the past year, Hollywood stars like Maude Apatow and Zoë Kravitz have also been criticized for having their careers easily fed to them from a silver spoon. So have models like Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber and Gigi and Bella Hadid.
As is made clear by her name, Depp is the daughter of actors Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis — the latter also a longtime Chanel muse and model. After nabbing a few film roles, Depp has been seen across various magazine covers, music videos and is hounded by paparazzi. She’s now largely regarded for her modeling career, and was even selected by the late Karl Lagerfeld to be Chanel’s ambassador for its Chanel No. 5 fragrance when she was only 17 years old.
Since Depp’s cover story released on Nov. 17, some of the industry’s biggest models have responded with their own perspectives on nepotism and privilege.
Italian model Vittoria Ceretti, who has been in the industry since the age of 14, took to Instagram to share her thoughts.
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“Just want to share a thought here because I can,” she began in a now-deleted Instagram Story post. “I bumped into an interview of a so-called ‘nepo baby,’ whatever y’all call it… Yes, I get the whole ‘Im here and I work hard for it,’ but I would really love to see if you would have lasted thru the first five years of my career. Not only being rejected, because I know you have an experience with it and you can tell me your sad little story about it (even if at the end of the day you can still always go cry on your dad’s couch in your villa in Malibu).”
Ceretti, now 24, continued, “You have no fucking idea how much you have to fight to make people respect you. TAKES YEARS. you just get it by free day one.” She finished with, “I know it’s not your fault, but please, appreciate and know the place you came from.”
On Friday morning, Anok Yai also commented on the situation. The Egyptian-born Sudanese-American model recalled the difficult early days of her career on her Instagram Story. “I remember at the beginning of my career…there was this perceived notion that I had an upper hand, [but] I can tell you it was quite the opposite.”
Yai revealed that when she moved to New York, she had only college debt and $30 in her name, and it wasn’t until a photo of her during Howard University’s 2017 Homecoming went viral that her career took off. Even then, she said, she’s had to fight for every single thing.
“Just weeks into my career, my agent sat me down and told me – ‘Everyone thinks you’re rich now so you have to play the part…’ I remember barely being able to afford living in New York but having to budget out flights, hotels and cars for work; taking out loans so I could buy food, drowning in debt, seeing myself on billboards but having a few dollars to my name. I didn’t mind – I wanted to earn my stripes.”
She then added that, “I will see some of you privilege kids stress about not booking a job because of the impact of your career while there are those of us who stress because we don’t know if we’ll be able to take care of our parents this months or put our siblings through school.”
She wrapped up her post by summarizing an unfortunate reality of the modeling industry for many, writing, “What bothers me is when power players in the industry (brands, directors, editors, etc) pretend to be ignorant to that fact…I know you work hard and have your struggles like the rest of us, but goddamn if you only knew the hell we go through to stand in the same room that you were born in.”
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