Maya Hawke is honest about her privilege. Why are other nepo babies so defensive? | Arwa Mahdawi

Congratulations to the actor Maya Hawke, who has just done something few of her peers seem capable of: acknowledge that one of the secrets of her success has been a little sprinkling of nepotism. The daughter of Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman has always seemed to “wear her privilege with a shrug”, as a recent Guardian profile put it, but in a new interview with the Times, the Stranger Things star was even more frank about “not deserving” the life she has.

“Deserves is a complicated word,” she said. “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.” She added: “It’s OK to be made fun of when you’re in rarefied air. It’s a lucky place to be.”

It certainly is. And it’s a shame more celebrity spawn seem to have such trouble admitting this. Ever since “nepo baby” became a buzzword a couple of years ago, celebrity children have gone deep into defence mode. They either refuse to talk about their head start in life or they insist that having an extremely rich and well-connected parent has somehow been a huge disadvantage.

Last summer, for example, Rolling Stone asked the actor Ben Platt (son of a successful Hollywood producer) how he felt about being in New York Magazine’s Nepo Baby issue. “We’re going to skip right over that,” Platt responded before almost immediately ending the interview. Because there’s nothing like throwing a tantrum to prove to the world that you are not, in fact, a sheltered little nepo baby.

Gwyneth Paltrow, meanwhile, who comes from Hollywood royalty, has been happy to acknowledge that famous parents open doors for you. But she has also insisted that means “you almost have to work twice as hard and be twice as good”. Which is … debatable. Lily Allen and Lily-Rose Depp have also pushed back against the nepo baby label and argued that it is sexist and unfair – a rather lily-livered response.

Might Hawke now start a trend? Might nepo babies finally realise honesty is the best policy and start admitting that they got a massive leg-up in life? Somehow I think it’s unlikely – but stranger things have happened.

Arwa Mahdawi is a Guardian columnist

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