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Hollywood Career Coach Gives Advice to Nepo Baby and Sci-Fi Filmmaker

Hollywood Career Coach Gives Advice to Nepo Baby and Sci-Fi Filmmaker

How Can I Show the World That I Am More Than Just My Last Name?

Dear Remy,

I feel I have given my everything to my profession — acting. I have studied rigorously, I am my own greatest critic and in the dead of night when the rest of the world is sleeping I can be found practicing facial expressions in the bathroom mirror. Hell, I have a copy of The Actor’s Way in each of my homes.

But for all this work, there are two words that seem to follow me everywhere. ‘Nepo Baby’.

Sure, my parents are in the industry and they have some clout. But I feel very short-changed by critics, commenters and fans who repeatedly say that my success is only due to my lineage. 

Had I come from a mining village in Delaware, with parents who’d spent their lives on the land, I am certain I would still have achieved everything I have through my talent alone.

It doesn’t help that, with my parents working so hard throughout my childhood, I feel I have missed out on the kind of normal, grounded childhood that ‘non-nepo-babies’ would have experienced. Mom and Dad weren’t very present and I was taught gin rummy by a nanny.

I am having an identity crisis. How can I show the world that I am more than just my last name? Sometimes I dream of getting Face:Off levels of plastic surgery, just so that I can start again and prove my theory about being able to make it on talent alone.

Dear Nepo Baby, 

Illustration by Russ Tudor

The grass, of course, is always greener — especially if you can afford the best fertilizer north of Laguna Beach.

For every son or daughter of Hollywood royalty wishing they could have been born in a mining village and “made it” all on their own, there are a million actors from “ordinary” homes who fantasize about discovering that they are a Fonda, a Coppola or a Huston. Just think of the doors those names can open! Not to mention the freedom a family fortune allows one to experiment, to take big swings and to have extra bandwidth for getting good at the thing you love.

You write here about wishing to create distance between yourself and your father’s name, but isn’t what you really crave more connection with your parents?

I wonder if you would feel differently about your last name if your parents had been present and attentive? There is no amount of Botox a father could buy that would make up for consistent absence during a child’s formative years.

What with all your studying and midnight gurning, it sounds like you’re giving yourself an unnecessarily hard time. The fact that you were born famous and neglected by your parents means it’s extra important for you to practice some self-care.

As for testing your talent — no need for drastic facial reconstructive surgery. Simply change your last name, employ a prosthetic makeup artist and start self-taping auditions. We’re excited to hear how you get on.

How Can I Deal With the Pain of Amateur Quantum Physicists Dismissing My Work?

Dear Remy,

I have built a career directing movies set in outerspace, in alternative realities, and in far-flung, hyper-technological corners of the future.

I feel my world-building is second-to-none. However, every movie I release is met with derisive analysis from fans of the genre, who pull apart the logic of the story and go searching for ‘plot holes’. At first I was able to laugh it off, but over time it has worn me down.

When a father presents their child to the world, the world fawns and coos, but when a director presents their movies to the world, everyone seems to brandish their collective monocle and start panning for errors and omissions.

How can I navigate the pain of having amateur Quantum Physicists dismiss my work?

More recently, I have taken to Reddit — under my pseudonymous username WhatIfTheMoonWasMadeOfCheese — to argue with this fraternity of fault-finders. Both my wife and my girlfriend are pissed at me and say this is a waste of time. 

Dear #WhatIfTheMoonWasMadeOfCheese,

Do you feel pain when amateur Quantum Physicists dismiss your work, because it feels like they’re dismissing you?

I’m intrigued that you liken your films to children. You’re clearly attached to them: by which I mean that your output forms an important part of your identity. You are your films.

Yet, just as good parenting involves recognizing we are not our children, and they are their own beings, it’s important for you to find ways to detach from your pictures. If your child were being picked on in school, you wouldn’t go head-to-head with their bullies (I hope?) In the same way, you must be the “grown-up” in this particular amphitheater.

Being committed without being attached is a new contract with yourself that says, “I will do everything in my power to make this happen, but I will not make the outcome all about me.” This way of being includes the possibility of experiencing lightness and fun. 

If you are committed to a movie, but not attached to it, it becomes a product, something which nerds can dissect to their geeky hearts’ content, without their comments defining who you are.

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If this solution doesn’t suit you, may I suggest a night class in Quantum Physics? Having the tools to shore up your scripts — a better understanding of the nature of quasars, or the wave-particle duality of matter and light — is surely no bad thing.

Help! My Real-Life Characters Are Haunting Me!

Dear Remy,

I recently had a hit TV series that drew on my own personal experiences. Now, viewers have turned into sleuths, trying to identify the real-world inspirations for my characters.

I didn’t fully anticipate this outcome, even though we’re living in an era dominated by murder podcasts and Sherlock Holmes reboots. It seems that in 2024, everyone is an armchair detective.

I’m torn. Achieving TV success has been my dream, and I’ve definitely paid my dues, surviving years on canned soup and free condiment packets from fast food joints. Yet, I can’t shake off the guilt I feel towards the real people who inspired these characters.

Isn’t there a place in art to transform real-life figures into fictional works? The best stories are often those told from real experiences. Haven’t countless writers before me done the same? Shakespeare wasn’t condemned for his portrayal of Richard III, Victor Hugo wasn’t chased down for the real Jean Valjean’s identity, and I highly doubt Walt Disney lost sleep over the historical accuracies of Anastasia or Pocahontas.

Dear Life Loomer,

When life hands you lemons, why not turn them into a drama series? If the spirits of your characters start haunting you, perhaps it’s time for a focus group instead of a séance.

Feeling guilty? Remember, all artists borrow from reality. You’re just doing it with a camera crew and hopefully a well-stocked snack table. Going forward, consider tweaking recognizable details. Aim for “this character is a blend of every Steve I’ve ever met, plus a bit of that Geoff from Soul Cycle,” instead of pinning it on someone specific.

It sounds like you’re seeking validation to weave your personal experiences into your work. Here’s your permission slip: do it. It adds depth and authenticity to your storytelling. Just mix in more fiction to avoid any legal drama. The goal is to captivate, not to court a lawsuit.

Reconsider the framework you’re using. Shakespeare, Hugo and Disney crafted stories about real people without the scrutiny of the internet era. They navigated their creative processes without the immediate feedback loop that today’s technology offers. This gives you a unique challenge, but also a unique opportunity to engage with your audience in ways they never could. Reflect on that as you balance historical inspiration with modern creativity.

Remy Blumenfeld is a veteran TV producer and founder of Vitality Guru, which offers business and career coaching to high performers in media. Send queries to:

Questions edited by Sarah Mills.

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