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Jamie Lee Curtis, Meg Ryan Give Their Takes On the ‘Nepo Baby’ Discussion

Photo Credit: 1. Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images 2. James Devaney / Getty Images
Photo Credit: 1. Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images 2. James Devaney / Getty Images

There’s a conversation circulating around the concept of the “nepo baby.” The term, short for “nepotism baby,” refers to children of notable figures whose familial ties have likely helped them gain exposure and fame. Many of those who classify themselves as nepo babies are proud of the title. However, some people who don’t have the advantage of famous parents carry negative opinions of them.

A number of celebrities have spoken out about the concept, including Jamie Lee Curtis and Meg Ryan.

Jamie Lee Curtis is proud to be an OG ‘nepo baby’

Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis standing with their children, Kelly and Jamie
Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh with their children, Kelly and Jamie. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of Hollywood royalty. Her mother is Janet Leigh, famed for her role in the 1960 horror thriller Psycho, and her father, Tony Curtis, was one of the top actors of the 1950s and ’60s. With parents like them, she was bound to take up the family profession.

Recently, Curtis put up an Instagram post, calling herself an “OG Nepo Baby.” She wrote, “There’s not a day in my professional life that goes by without my being reminded that I am the daughter of movie stars.” Working as an actress since she was 19 years old, she isn’t ignorant of the leverage having famous parents has provided her.

Throughout her career, however, people have been telling Curtis she only got where she is because of her parents. “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 explained.

Not the first time Jamie Lee Curtis has admitted to being a ‘nepo baby’

Janet Leigh as Marion Crane in 'Psycho' + Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode in 'Halloween'
Janet Leigh in the 1960 film, Psycho, and Jamie Lee Curtis in 1978’s Halloween. (Photo Credit: Bettmann / Getty Images)

Her post on Instagram was not the first time Jamie Lee Curtis publicly admitted to being a nepo baby. As previously mentioned, she’s been constantly reminded of the advantages she was given because of who her parents were. During an interview with The New Yorker in 2019, she explained how that helped in the earlier years of her acting career.

By the time she was auditioning for the role of Laurie Strode in the 1978 movie Halloween, Curtis had only done a few acting jobs in television shows. When she got the part, it was her feature film debut, and she stayed with the franchise for decades as sequels were released.

Reflecting on the auditioning process, she said, “I’m never going to pretend that I just got that on my own, like I’m just a little girl from nowhere getting it. Clearly, I had a leg up.” Her mother’s experience in horror films was likely given lots of consideration by the casting director.

Jamie Lee Curtis believes the conversation is hurtful

Jamie Lee Curtis standing on a red carpet
Jamie Lee Curtis at the 78th Venice International Film Festival, 2021. (Photo Credit: Stephane Cardinale / CORBIS / Getty Images)

As the conversation around nepo babies has gained popularity, Jamie Lee Curtis feels it’s taken a negative direction. “The current conversation about nepo babies is just designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt,” she explained, adding that she wants to change the narrative by expressing her own experience as a nepo baby.

“It’s curious how we immediately make assumptions and snide remarks that someone related to someone else who is famous in their field for their art, would somehow have no talent whatsoever,” she wrote on Instagram. “I have come to learn that is simply not true.” She believes that, while nepo babies do have an advantage, they must also have the skill to back it up. Otherwise, “who you know” is not enough to establish a successful career.

“I am not alone. There are many of us,” she added, recognizing that she’s certainly not the only person in the conversation. “Dedicated to our craft. Proud of our lineage. Strong in our belief in our right to exist.”

Meg Ryan has come to her son’s defense regarding ‘nepo babies’

Jack Quaid and Meg Ryan walking along a street
Meg Ryan and her son, Jack Quaid, in New York, 2011. (Photo Credit: Ignat / Bauer-Griffin / GC Images / Getty Images)

Jamie Lee Curtis isn’t the only high-profile star to chime in on the nepo baby discussion. Meg Ryan opened up about the topic in an interview with Glamour magazine – in particular, about its relation to her son, Jack Quaid.

Ryan, best known for her roles in You’ve Got Mail (1998) and When Harry Met Sally… (1989), was once married to fellow actor Dennis Quaid. They only had one child together.

While many may accuse Quaid of being a nepo baby, Ryan disagrees, saying he’s always had a talent for acting. Remembering a school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she said, “He was playing Bottom. I was newly divorced from his dad, and he was seated at the other side of the gym. I had my head in my hands and was like, ‘Oh, no. He’s good. He’s really good.’ I leaned forward, and I see Dennis, and he’s also leaning forward with his head in his hands. I just knew.”

It’s this talent that’s caused her to be defensive when people say Quaid is only famous as a result of her and her ex-husband. “Jack is really talented,” she said. “He’s more of a natural than I’ll ever be. That nepo stuff is so dismissive of his work ethic, his gifts, and how sensitive he is to the idea of his privilege.”

Jack Quaid has discussed growing up with famous parents

Jack Quaid speaking into a microphone
Jack Quaid attending an event at Build, 2017. (Photo Credit: Jim Spellman / WireImage / Getty Images)

Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid are big names in Hollywood, with the actors instantly recognizable for their films. In an interview with PEOPLE, Jack Quaid explained that having famous parents never seemed odd to him, as it was the norm among the kids he grew up with.

“I grew up with friends who also had parents in the industry, so it didn’t really feel different,” he said. “But then you grow up, and you realize that’s a pretty unique thing, that not one but two of your parents are actors. You don’t realize that things are slightly abnormal until later.”

While many nepo babies have had their parents play a guiding hand in their careers, Quaid says that his mother and father have adopted a “hands-off approach,” allowing him to figure things out on his own and carve his own path. “They don’t really give me advice,” he said. “I’ve never asked them, ‘How should I perform this scene?'”

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If anything, he’s grateful for the opportunities his parents have afforded him over the years and for them nurturing his interests and decision to enter the acting business.

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!