Michaela Coel Enters the “Nepo Baby” Chat: “F*** That System, I’m Going to Do My Own Thing”

Getty / Raymond Hall

It’s likely you’ve seen “nepo baby” trending on social media of late. The term started gaining traction after New York Magazine’s December 2022 cover story declared it “The Year of the Nepo Baby”, fuelling conversations around nepotism in Hollywood and the advantages many famous stars have due to being born into well-connected families. While many celebrities have spoken out in defence of their “nepo baby” status, including Lily Allen (daughter of actor Keith Allen) and Kaia Gerber (daughter of Cindy Crawford), Michaela Coel has waded into the chat calling out those who have been given a head start in the industry.

“You know, [nepotism] is 100 percent there and present but I don’t think it benefits a creator to think about it too much,” Coel tells the Evening Standard. “And it certainly doesn’t benefit me because it just makes me angry.”

“[T]he more important thing is what are you going to do?”

Gerber told Elle magazine in a January 2023 interview, “No artist is going to sacrifice their vision for someone’s kid. That just isn’t how art is made. . .” Coel disagrees, and thinks it’s important for celebrities to recognise and acknowledge their advantages. “If people don’t believe that [being] that child of someone, or the niece or nephew of someone, whatever [that relationship may be], has anything to do with their achievement, then that is hilarious. I find that very funny – that is a cute way for you to live, you carry on like that,” she says. “The rest of us, we can’t think about this too much, because it’s going to make us feel defeated. You have to say, like, ‘f**k that system. I’m going to figure out a way to do my own thing’, and you can stand adjacent to those people and know how you got there.”

Coel, who has recently launched the BMW Filmmaker Challenge with the British Film Institute in which she well take on a mentoring role to help nurture creatives, does acknowledge that the “nepo baby” discussion is nuanced, “…the other truth is if I continue on my path and have children I’m sure my opinion will evolve somehow.”

Coel, who won an Emmy for the incredible show “I Will Destroy You”, is choosing to focus on herself and her work, and not get distracted with the industry noise.

With a working-class background, the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and former Vogue cover star has perhaps had to work even harder than most. According to a 2022 study, just 8 percent of artists come from a working-class background. “The world is going to carry on, and it’s probably going to carry on just like it always has – the more important thing is what are you going to do?”

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