Zooey Deschanel Denies She's A Nepo Baby & The Comments Are Brutal (Look Away, Jonathan Scott!)

A nepo baby (slang for nepotism baby) is someone whose parents or family are already successful in a certain industry. People often criticize nepo babies for seemingly not working as hard for their success since it's partially due to genetics. An example is Johnny Depp's daughter Lily-Rose Depp, who has called out a nepo baby double standard regarding gender. "New Girl" actor Zooey Deschanel has rejected the title entirely.

Zooey's father, Caleb Deschanel, is a cinematographer, director of photography, and director. He's been nominated at the Oscars for Best Cinematography six times, for films such as "The Right Stuff" and "The Patriot." Zooey's mother, Mary Jo Deschanel, is an actor who has starred in several TV shows and movies, including some of Caleb's projects. Caleb also directed some episodes of "Bones," starring his daughter Emily Deschanel — and Zooey even had a cameo on her sister's show.

However, Zooey denied nepo baby status on "The School of Greatness" podcast in 2024. She explained her parents' connections to the industry and the "creative help" she got from them. Zooey continued, "It's funny because people will be like, 'Oh, nepotism!' I'm like, 'No, my dad's a DP. No one's getting jobs because their dad's a DP.' Like, it's definitely not." She went on to rave about her family's talents in their corners of the industry and her father, mother, and sister's support. Many people weren't keen on Zooey's comments.

Some people were frustrated about nepo babies not admitting their privilege

The Culture Crave account on X, formerly Twitter, shared a tweet quoting Zooey Deschanel's denial of her nepo baby status. One person replied to the tweet and said, "Your parents aint [sic] work that damn hard for you to deny the step up they gave you." Others in the replies didn't understand why Zooey would try to hide the fact that her family helped her get where she is, with one person saying, "Just embrace it." Another remarked, "Success in Hollywood today reflects mostly random luck, connections, or some combination of the two. It's not physics, and I wish we could be honest about that."

Another X user shared an article from The Independent on the subject and wrote, "Nepo Babies NEVER think their parents['] accomplishments helped get them in the room. It's like being nose-blind to how Hollywood actually works."

However, not all the comments about Zooey were negative. Plenty of fans replied to Culture Crave's tweet saying that she and her sister, Emily Deschanel, are talented in their own right. The truth about the Deschanel sisters is that they are very talented — but their family connections probably did help them more than they may want to admit.