Why Zooey Deschanel Is Facing Heat for Her ‘Nepotism’ Comments

Why Zooey Deschanel Is Facing Heat for Her ‘Nepotism’ Comments

Zooey Deschanel doesn’t consider herself a “nepo baby,” despite her family’s success in Hollywood. The New Girl star, 44, has been getting heat online after the comments she made about her own career in show business as it relates to those of her parents, Caleb and Mary Jo Deschanel. 

Caleb, 79, is a six-time Academy Award-nominated cinematographer, best known for his work on movies like The Natural, Fly Away Home, The Patriot, The Passion of the Christ and 2019’s The Lion King. Mary Jo, meanwhile, is an actress – the 78-year-old is best known for her role on Twin Peaks but also appeared in titles including The Right Stuff, My Sister’s Keeper and Ruby Sparks.

Despite that, Zooey said on a recent episode of The School of Greatness podcast that she rejects the term “nepo baby” as it refers to herself. “It’s funny because people will be like, ‘Nepotism!’ No, my dad’s a [director of photography],” Zooey explained. “No one’s getting jobs because their dad’s a DP. Definitely not.”

Zooey did acknowledge that being in a family of creatives was a benefit to her from an early age, however. “I can’t possibly emphasize enough how much creative help I had from my family unit,” the (500) Days of Summer star continued. “My dad is a great creative mind and such a talented person. Like, knows everything about film. My mom is a great actor and is so nurturing. My mom would coach me when I didn’t have an acting coach; She would help me, read lines with me. She’d be so supportive.” Having parents who are artistic in that way also “automatically makes you have community,” the actress gushed.

Zooey’s first acting credit came with a guest appearance on the NBC sitcom Veronica’s Closet in 1998, and she would go on to make her film debut a year later in Mumford, written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan. Her sister, Emily Deschanel, made her feature film debut in the 1994 movie It Could Happen to You, on which her father worked as chief cinematographer, before going on to star in Fox’s Bones.

Zooey’s comments about nepotism and her career struck the wrong chord with many who thought she was missing the point. “Nepo Babies NEVER think their parents accomplishments helped get them in the room. It’s like being nose-blind to how Hollywood actually works,” one person wrote on X (formerly Twitter). Another added, “Why these nepo babies choose to be delusional is beyond me. We aren’t buying what you’re selling, @ZooeyDeschanel. If you got a slide, enjoy it!”


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