Zooey Deschanel, Daughter Of 6-Time Oscar Nominee, Weighs In On ‘Nepo Baby’ Debate

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Zooey Deschanel
Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel is the daughter of a six-time Oscar nominee, but she still doesn’t quite believe that makes her a “nepo baby”.

“It’s funny because people are like, ‘Oh, nepotism,’” the New Girl star said on a recent episode of The School Of Greatness podcast with Lewis Howes.

“I’m like, ‘No.’ My dad’s a DP [director of photography]. No one’s getting jobs because their dad’s a DP.” 

Despite Zooey’s denial, she comes from a very famous family. Her father, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, has been nominated for six Academy Awards over the years. 

Her mother, Mary Jo Deschanel, appeared on the cult hit show Twin Peaks and in the movie The Patriot. And her older sister, Emily Deschanel, is best known for starring on the Fox drama show Bones.

Emily Deschanel, Zooey Deschanel, Caleb Deschanel and Mary Jo Deschanel at the 2019 OscarsEmily Deschanel, Zooey Deschanel, Caleb Deschanel and Mary Jo Deschanel at the 2019 Oscars

Still, Zooey did admit that she “can’t possibly emphasise enough how much creative help I had from my family unit”. 

“My dad is a great creative mind and like, such a talented person. So incredible. Like, knows everything about film,” she said on the podcast. “My mum is a great actor and is so nurturing.

“My mum would coach me — like, when I didn’t have an acting coach, she would coach me, she would help me, read lines with me. She’d be so supportive.” 

“I’d have so many great discussions about film and filmmaking with my dad. They both would help me so much. My dad would also read lines with me and give direction,” Zooey continued. “And then having a sister who’s an actor. It just makes you automatically have a community … that’s so important to keeping going.” 

“Nepotism babies”, often shortened to “nepo babies”, has become a term to describe the children of industry insiders who benefit from their parents’ fame or connections.

And although some, including Kate Hudson and Jamie Lee Curtis, have said that nepotism didn’t quite help them, others, like Allison Williams, have spelled out their privilege perfectly

“All that people are looking for is an acknowledgment that it’s not a level playing field. It’s just unfair,” the Girls star, who is the daughter of former NBC anchor Brian Williams, said in an interview with Vulture last year.

“Period, end of the story, and no one’s really working that hard to make it fair. To not acknowledge that me getting started as an actress versus someone with zero connections isn’t the same — it’s ludicrous. It doesn’t take anything away from the work that I’ve done. It just means that it’s not as fun to root for me.”