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Maya Hawke Says Nepotism Led to ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Role

Maya Hawke Says Nepotism Led to ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’ Role

Maya Hawke has accepted the term “nepo baby.”

The Stranger Things star, daughter of actors Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke, recently opened up to The Times of London about her path to Hollywood, acknowledging that she’s had an advantage because of her parents.

While considering whether she deserves the success she’s received in the industry, Hawke said, “‘Deserves’ is a complicated word. There are so many people who deserve to have this kind of life who don’t, but I think I’m comfortable with not deserving it and doing it anyway. And I know that my not doing it wouldn’t help anyone. I saw two paths when I was first starting, and one of them was: change your name, get a nose job and go to open casting roles.”

Hawke said she’s “comfortable” choosing the second option and embracing her nepotism, even if it leads to jokes.

“It’s OK to be made fun of when you’re in rarefied air. It’s a lucky place to be,” the Do Revenge actress added. “My relationships with my parents are really honest and positive, and that supersedes anything anyone can say about it.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Hawke recalled comments she made to The Hollywood Reporter in 2019 regarding her role in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood — one of her first major projects.

“I got an audition for the project through the normal channels through my agents,” she said at the time. “I did an audition in my bedroom with my dad. We sent in the tape to Quentin and I got a callback.”

Hawke was later teased for her remarks, which implied that she was cast in the movie based on skill alone. However, she’s now clarified her comments, admitting that nepotism played a part.

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“I’ve been wildly made fun of for this clip when I said, on the red carpet, that I auditioned,” the Maestro actress said. “I never meant to imply that I didn’t get the part for nepotistic reasons — I think I totally did”.

“Nepo baby” discourse has increased in recent years, notably after a 2022 New York Magazine story that dove into the invisible network of family ties that can give the children of celebrities an advantage in the industry. 

Several other celebrities have previously spoken out about the matter, including Lily Allen, daughter of British actor Keith Allen, “Nepo babies, I think it’s quite like ‘Karen’, in the sense that it’s just a word that is basically used for women who are taking up space, and we’d rather they didn’t, and they should just go away,’” she said her Miss Me podcast last month. “My brother [Alfie Allen], for instance, doesn’t get called nepo baby, and I do.”

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