Celebrity Nepo Babies You Didn't Know Had Famous Parents

The term nepotism baby or "nepo baby" has been floating around the internet for quite some time. It refers to a select group of celebrity children who might have gotten a leg up or an unfair career advantage due to their famous parents or family connections. There have been heated debates about whether these certain stars deserve their success or if they really are talented.  

Several stars have come to the defense of being labeled nepo babies. During a guest appearance on Hailey Bieber's YouTube series, "Who's in My Bathroom?" actor Gwyneth Paltrow, who is the daughter of actor Blythe Danner and director Bruce Paltrow, believed stars who come from famous backgrounds "have to work twice as hard and be twice as good because people are ready to pull you down and say, 'You don't belong there' or 'You are only there because of your dad or your mom.'" Then there is actor Kate Hudson, the daughter of actor Goldie Hawn. Speaking to the Independent, Hudson believed nepotism is more prevalent in other industries than in Hollywood. "I don't care where you come from or what your relationship to the business is. If you work hard and you kill it, it doesn't matter," she shared.

Nepo babies are pretty much ruling the entertainment industry, and they all have differing opinions on the hot topic. However, it is nice to see that a few of these stars acknowledge the privileges associated with nepotism. Let's look at the celebrity nepo babies you probably had no idea had famous parents.

Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh

Jamie Lee Curtis is known for her performances in slasher films like "Halloween" and its many remakes, earning her the title of ultimate Scream Queen, but she's proven herself as a star who can act in many genres. Her earlier films, like "The Fog," "Perfect," "Blue Steel," "True Lies," and "Freaky Friday," showcased Curtis' wide acting range from a comedic star to a sex symbol and solidified her career. In 2023, she nabbed her first Academy Award for her stellar performance in "Everything Everywhere All at Once."

Although Curtis has worked in Hollywood since the late '70s, there have been a few conversations about whether her career was jump-started thanks to her famous parents. Curtis is the youngest daughter of actor Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Her parents came from the golden age of Hollywood, which was pivotal in filmmaking's history. Born into Hollywood royalty, Curtis poked fun at herself for being the "OG Nepo Baby."

In an Instagram post, Curtis defended herself and actors like her who come from famous backgrounds. "The current conversation about nepo babies is just designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt. 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," she wrote alongside photos with her parents.  

Riley Keough's mom is Lisa Marie Presley

Riley Keough showed off her incredible singing skills while portraying fictional singer and songwriter Daisy Jones in the Amazon Prime show "Daisy Jones & The Six." However, it's hard to believe that the actor never had any singing experience before playing the role. After all, Keough is the granddaughter of rock and roll legend Elvis Presley. Her mother was Lisa Marie Presley, who followed in her father's footsteps. We also can't knock her father either. Keough's dad, Danny Keough, is a musician and played bass in Lisa Marie's band.

In an interview with Variety's "Awards Circuit" podcast, Keough shared that she was thankful for all the preparation time she was given for the role (with the COVID-19 pandemic adding to that extra time) because she would definitely not sound as good as she did when she was cast as Daisy. "I mean, we had so much time rehearsing, and we had a huge team of people who were helping us through ... we had so much time together, and so much rehearsal time, that's not typical. That really was extremely effective. And was the only way we were able to feel, in my opinion, like we knew what we were doing," Keough shared.

If you haven't watched the show, we highly recommend it. Keough's voice is incredible. 

Matty Healy's parents are well-known British actors

Fans of The 1975 may not know that the band's singer and songwriter, Matty Healy, was born to parents in the entertainment industry, making him another candidate for the nepo baby debate.

Healy's parents are both famous British actors. His mom is actor and television host Denise Welch, who starred in "Coronation Street," Britain's longest-running soap. In addition, she co-hosts the popular talk show "Loose Women." The singer's father is British actor Tim Healy, whose best-known work includes portraying Dennis Patterson in the series "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet." Matty's parents may have had a helping hand in his career. In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Tim shared photos of his son's first gig, which happened to take place at the 2001 Tim Healy Charity Golf Classic.

But the singer's musical career has become shrouded in controversy. He's opened up about being a nepotism baby, and to be frank, it's a little off-putting. It's nothing new from the artist who faced criticism for his onstage antics and sketchy comments. Speaking with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Matty shared, "I made a joke that I drew the short straw at the nepotism baby nursery because there's so many famous kids out there," he shared. He added, "The nepotism baby concept is interesting though, isn't it? Because it seems to be something that people talk about when they're a little bit jealous."

Gracie Abrams is the daughter of J.J. Abrams

Gracie Abrams is making waves in the music world after releasing her debut album "Good Riddance" in 2023. As an up-and-coming artist, she's already toured with Olivia Rodrigo and Taylor Swift as their opening act. In addition, the "Block Me Out" songstress was nominated for a Grammy for best new artist and was named in Forbes' 30 Under 30 in Music for 2024. It's safe to say that Abrams is already a big deal.

Abrams' career is soaring, even though it's just the beginning. However, her parents have been in the entertainment industry for years. If her last name sounds familiar, it's because her father is television and movie director J.J. Abrams. He's responsible for co-creating shows like "Lost" and "Alias" and directing "Star Wars" films. Gracie's mother, Katie Abrams, worked in politics but has since switched careers, becoming co-CEO of their production company Bad Robot Productions. 

During an interview with iHeart Radio, Abrams was asked about being labeled a nepo baby, as some people might believe her parents helped her pursue a career in singing. She shared that though she understood she had a privileged upbringing, being in a household with a father whose job was to write shows influenced Abrams to hone her writing skills. "Having that in my childhood just solidified my love and appreciation for storytelling and narrative and probably, definitely influenced the fact that I did it all the time," she shared.

Elle King's dad is Rob Schneider

Elle King wanted to set herself apart from her famous father, actor Rob Schneider. Although she was born Tanner Elle Schneider, the "Ex's & Oh's" songstress uses her mother, former model Lond King's last name. Elle King does have a better ring to it, doesn't it? 

In a February 2023 interview with People, King shared that despite having a father in the entertainment industry, she worked hard at establishing her music career. "I wanted to be my own person. I never wanted to borrow money from anybody, and I've worked hard for my family and for me. I want to have a life built for myself, and I want to know that I did it," she shared. In fact, King did not grow up with her father because of his demanding career. After he and London separated, the singer was raised by her mother and stepfather in Ohio for most of her childhood. She built a stronger relationship with her famous dad only later in her life.

One cool thing about this father-and-daughter duo is that King starred in several of her father's movies. Although most of them were minor roles, you can see her in films like "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo," "The Benchwarmers," and "Daddy Daughter Trip."

Zosia Mamet is famous screenwriter David Mamet's daughter

Zosia Mamet is best recognized for portraying Shoshanna Shapiro in the HBO hit series "Girls," but she's been working in Hollywood for quite some time. It may have to do with the fact that her father is famous screenwriter and director David Mamet, who cast his daughter in some of her first projects, including the 2004 movie "Spartan" and the television series "The Unit," both created by her father. 

Although her father may have helped jump start her acting career, Zosia told The Guardian that it wasn't all smooth sailing. "A lot of people gave me a much harder time because they didn't want me to have it easy," she shared. However, she did have some luck having a well-known dad for those who recognized her, stating that "some people were overly welcoming" and adding, "A lot of it was quite odd, just people freaking out over my dad."  

David's film credits include "Hannibal," "Heist," and "The Untouchables." In 1984, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his play "Glengarry Glen Ross" and was nominated for a Tony for his 1988 play "Speed-the-Plow."

Jessica Capshaw's stepdad is Steven Spielberg

"Grey's Anatomy" star Jessica Capshaw grew up with her movie star mother, Kate Capshaw, and her stepfather, legendary director Steven Spielberg, but that didn't have anything to do with how she got to where she is today. "I was so hellbent on my own independence and how to make it on my own because everyone was aware of who my parents were — it was just there. I knew there had to be some way for me to figure out how to be who I was without always being Jessica Capshaw, comma so and so's parents," she told Rose & Ivy

However, there is no doubt that Jessica was influenced by her mother and stepfather to pursue her acting career. When she was a guest on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," she told the host that she would travel to different locations and hang around movie sets with her mom when she was younger. She added that her favorite film location was when her mom was starring in 1984's "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom," where Jessica and her mother met and fell in love with Spielberg.

Despite finding her own path, Jessica's first film was 1997's "The Locusts," which starred her mother.

Phoebe Dynevor's parents are famous British stars

"Bridgerton" actor Phoebe Dynevor was born to famous parents, but she's not necessarily the first actor that comes to mind when discussing Hollywood's nepo babies. Her mother, Sally Dynevor, is a British actor known for starring in "Coronation Street" for over three decades. Her father, Tim Dynevor, is a screenwriter who wrote the television series "Emmerdale Farm." Speaking to the Financial Times, Phoebe shared that she experienced a simpler life than most children of celebrities. "In real life, my mom was always a dungaree wearer, which probably rubbed off on me a lot." She added, "Work for her was dressy time, not home, and I always thought that was kind of cool."

Having parents in the industry also rubbed off on Phoebe. She was able to learn the ins and outs of such a demanding industry. "I was always really interested in what was going on, watching the cameraman and stuff," she told Express. She added that her parents also instilled in her the importance of being thoughtful to others. "My mom and dad taught me to respect everyone and to be kind."

Her first role was portraying Siobhan Mailey in the British series "Waterloo Road," which starred The 1975's Matt Healy's mother, Denise Welch. Her other roles included those in several British TV series, including "Prisoners Wives," "Dickensian," and "Snatch." Before making it big as Daphne Bridgerton in the hit Netflix show, she portrayed Clare O'Brien in "Younger."

Grace Van Patten's dad directed episodes of The Sopranos

One of Grace Van Patten's earliest acting roles was starring opposite the late James Gandolfini on "The Sopranos." Van Patten was only 8 years old, but she recalled to Vogue how he left a lasting impact on Van Patten in terms of wanting to pursue acting. "I have a memory of seeing Jimmy Gandolfini start the scene as this big, beautiful, soulful teddy bear and then just shape-shift into an absolute monster. I remember being so in awe and thinking, How did he do that? I was fascinated by the idea of transformation and realized early on that's what I wanted to do," she shared.

However, it does help a rising star when your father was in the director's chair for episodes of "The Sopranos." Van Patten's father, Timothy Van Patten, is well-known in the entertainment industry. He has also been a longtime director for "Boardwalk Empire." His daughter even got to star in one episode of the crime drama in 2014. Of course, her father was another big reason she chose to act. "I think because I was exposed to the realities of the industry at such a young age, I saw that it wasn't all glamour. I saw the stress and unpredictability that comes with it firsthand, so I feel lucky every time I get to act — you never know what can happen in this line of work." 

Grace has since starred in more prominent roles, including two Hulu series: "Nine Perfect Strangers" and "Tell Me Lies."

Nico Parker's parents are Thandiwe Newton and Ol Parker

At 11, Nico Parker landed her first acting job in Tim Burton's 2019 film "Dumbo." It's not every day that an 11-year-old gets to work alongside acting greats like Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, and Colin Farrell, but Parker nailed her role. It led the rising star to find a love for performing; she appeared in three episodes of "The Third Day," two episodes of "The Last of Us," and portrayed Zoe in the film "Reminiscence."

Although she had never acted before "Dumbo," Parker was familiar with movie sets. Her mother is Emmy award-winning actor Thandiwe Newton, who has starred in "The Pursuit of Happyness," "Mission: Impossible II," and "Westworld." Parker's father is director and producer Ol Parker. He has directed movies such as "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again" and "Ticket to Paradise."

Appearing as a guest on "The Jennifer Hudson Show," Parker shared, "I was very fortunate enough because both my parents are in the industry, I could visit sets." At her young age, Parker believed it was boring at first. "They would just wait around all day. To me, acting was 90% of the time waiting around drinking coffee. I was like, 'You guys don't work,'" she joked. However, that all changed when she was cast as Milly Farrier in the fantasy film. "It was a snowstorm after that. I was obsessed and loved it and realized this is exactly what I want to do." 

Maya Rudolph's mom was soul singer Minnie Riperton

Maya Rudolph knows how to make us laugh out of our chairs, but believe it or not, she wanted to be a singer like her mother, the late Minnie Riperton. The soul singer was best known for her 1975 hit "Lovin' You." Meanwhile, Rudolph's father, Richard Rudolph, wrote and produced songs for Riperton. The singer died at 31 from breast cancer, but her daughter remembers what a powerful presence she was when on stage. "When I was a little girl, I would stand on the side of the stage and watch my mom singing out there in beautiful gowns. She was a diva in the most exquisite sense. Those are very vivid memories for me," Maya told Interview magazine.

Music was always a part of Maya's life, long before she would become a successful actor. In an interview with NPR, she shared, "My mom was music. Music poured out of my mother, and I'm sure I heard it before I even got here when I was in her belly. Music sounds and feels very normal to me." In the '90s, Maya joined the rock band The Rentals as a backup singer and keyboardist. They opened for big-named artists like Alanis Morissette and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

Kiefer Sutherland is the son of actor Donald Sutherland

"24" actor Kiefer Sutherland finally got the chance to act with his famous father, Donald Sutherland, as a father and son duo in the 2015 Western thriller "Forsaken." Though the Sutherlands did work in the 1996 film "Time to Kill," they did not exchange words, making this movie long overdue. "I've watched him my whole life. To have the opportunity to work with him was something I wanted my whole career," Kiefer shared with "Good Morning America." When asked why Kiefer waited so long to work with his dad, he said no movie seemed right until "Forsaken" came along. 

Donald Sutherland's acting career spans decades, with his film credits going back to the early 1960s. Some of his most famous works include "Ordinary People," "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," "Mash," "Without Limits," and "The Hunger Games" film series. Kiefer's late mother, Shirley Douglas, was also an actor. She appeared in the films "Lolita," "Dead Ringers," and the television film "Shadow Lake." 

The acting bug also rubbed off on Kiefer's daughter, Sarah Sutherland. The actor is best known for starring as Julia Louis-Dreyfus' daughter in "Veep." 

John David Washington's dad is Denzel Washington

One would assume that John David Washington would take up a career in acting from childhood, seeing that his father is legendary actor Denzel Washington. However, getting serious about a job in Hollywood didn't come so suddenly for this star. Instead, he became a professional football player so that he wasn't constantly being compared to or overshadowed by his mega-famous dad. "I jumped in and hid in this football persona, this athlete, literally putting on a helmet to hide my face, hide my identity," John told People.

The former football star had a brief stint in the NFL. He was signed by the St. Louis Rams practice squad in 2006 but was cut after two seasons. He played for the Sacramento Mountain Lions in the United Football League for four years until it folded following the 2012 season. It was only a matter of time before John pursued his true destiny: acting just like his dad. John's first significant role was portraying Ricky Jerret in "Ballers." He told WSJ Magazine that he did not tell his father he was auditioning for the part. "I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I'll never forget how he expressed how proud he was of me. That was a great moment for me," he shared.

John has continued to prove he's got major acting skills. He was nominated for a Golden Globe award for 2018's "BlacKkKlansman" and has since starred in films like "Tenet," "Malcolm and Marie," and "Amsterdam."

Mariska Hargitay's mom was sex symbol Jayne Mansfield

Mariska Hargitay has established herself as a successful actor thanks to her role as Olivia Benson in the long-running drama television series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." But, her acting genes most certainly came from her mother, 1950s actor and sex symbol Jayne Mansfield. 

Mansfield took the world by storm in the late '50s and early '60s, starring in memorable films like "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" "The Girl Can't Help It," "Too Hot to Handle," and "Promises! Promises!" The latter became the first Hollywood movie to feature nudity by a big-named star. Hargitay's father, Mickey Hargitay, was also an actor and Mr. Universe in 1955. Sadly, Mansfield's life was cut short when she was involved in a car accident and died at 34. Mariska, who was just three, and her two siblings, were also in the vehicle that killed her mother. All three siblings survived the crash.

The "Law & Order" star has since reflected on how much of an icon her mother was. "I grew up in Los Angeles, and I had access, I grew up in the business, but she grew up in Texas, she had no access, and she just went for it," she shared with The Sydney Morning Herald. "It's not an accident that she was an actress and I am an actress. She has had so much influence on me, in ways that, in my unconscious mind, I am not even fully aware of."