‘Nepo Baby’ Willow Smith Says Her Success Isn’t Down To Famous Parents

Willow Smith has spoken out over being branded a 'nepo baby', claiming her success isn't because of her famous parents.
Credit: Alamy & @willowsmith/Instagram

Willow Smith has spoken out about being branded a ‘nepo baby’.

The discourse surrounding nepotism within the entertainment industry is a conversation that just seems to go on forever.

New York Magazine grabbed attention by releasing a cover themed around nepotism, showcasing celebrities with renowned parents in December 2022.

The publication featured a graphic depicting various A-lister’s faces superimposed onto baby bodies.

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Among those featured were Dakota Johnson, daughter of actors Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith; Zoë Kravitz, Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet’s daughter; and Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis.

But now, Willow Smith, 23, has spoken out against the term ‘nepo baby’, claiming she doesn’t see herself as belonging in the category…

Willow Smith
Willow Smith has claimed her success isn’t down to her famous parents. Credit: @willowsmith/Instagram

A ‘nepo baby’ typically refers to a child born into a family with a history of influence or prominence in a particular field, such as entertainment, politics, or business.

‘Nepo’ is short for nepotism, which is the practice of favouring relatives or close friends, especially by giving them jobs or opportunities.

So, a nepo baby often benefits from family connections in their career or other endeavours.

This term is commonly used in contexts like the entertainment industry to refer to individuals who have gained opportunities in acting or other fields due to their family connections rather than solely on their own merit.

However, the daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith is claiming she doesn’t fit into this widely denigrated category –  and people have been left irritated by Smith’s remarks.

Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, Will Smith, Jaden Smith and Trey Smith
Willow Smith’s parents, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, are established actors. Credit: Alamy

One writes: “Being rich is a springboard… being connected makes everything easier. Being privileged makes her think she could be where she is without realising connections help.”

A second adds: “She should just own that yes it helped being his kid.”

While a third says: “Maybe just a little push… and that’s OK, it’s all good. Be grateful and keep going.”

Willow Smith
Willow Smith has had numerous music hits throughout her career. Credit: @willowsmith/Instagram

Willow is pretty established in the music industry.

In 2010, she released the track ‘Whip My Hair,’ which peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Her song ‘Wait A Minute!’ from 2015 gained popularity on TikTok.

The singer told Interview Magazine that over her long career in the entertainment industry, she’s learned to trust her instincts.

She explained: “We’re kind of taught to question ourselves, and because I have so much respect for so many other artists, sometimes that turns into questioning myself.

“But when you put the work in and your heart and mind is in the right place, you can’t lose.”

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Willow has also opened up about the immense pressure of living up to her parents’ legacy.

Chatting to Zane Lowe of Apple Music 1, the ‘Meet Me At Our Spot’ singer said: “I always just wanted to do right by my parents, and do right by the beauty that they have put in the world, and continue to uplift that beauty and to upload that beauty. And I felt a lot of pressure.”

She added: “So I’m just figuring that out in all these different ways, and it’s going to be a journey, and there’s more to come.”

Willow Smith
Willow Smith’s comments on nepotism have divided opinion. Credit: @willowsmith/Instagram

In an interview with Allure, Willow said she feels ‘insecurity’ regarding questions about her career.

She told the outlet: “I truly believe that my spirit is a strong spirit and that, even if my parents weren’t who they were, I would still be a weirdo and a crazy thinker.

“I definitely think that a little bit of insecurity has driven me harder because people do think that the only reason I’m successful is because of my parents. That has driven me to work really hard to try to prove them wrong. But nowadays, I don’t need to prove s*** to anybody.”

Willow further explained that she doesn’t believe the term ‘nepo baby’ can be applied to a Black woman.

She recalled: “There have been some experiences where I went into a place that I have worked in the past and my picture could even be up on the wall, and they treat me like: ‘This is a little bit out of your price range’ or ‘You don’t really belong here’.

“Being Black in America, even with privilege, which I’m never going to deny that I have, you’re still Black. And I love being Black.

“People would look at me, and, ‘OK, well, her parents are this and this and that, but she still is like me. She still has brown skin’. And we all know that that doesn’t exempt you from anything, and that’s a place of connection.”

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.