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Willow Smith has opened up about being labelled a “nepo baby” due to the fame and success of her parents, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.

The singer, 23, spoke about feeling “insecurity” when it comes to questions about her own career in an interview with Allure published on 2 May. Despite some of the negative comments and doubts abnout her talents, Smith explained that the label of “nepo baby” has only inspired her to work harder.

“I truly believe that my spirit is a strong spirit and that, even if my parents weren’t who they were, I would still be a weirdo and a crazy thinker,” she told the outlet. “I definitely think that a little bit of insecurity has driven me harder because people do think that the only reason I’m successful is because of my parents. That has driven me to work really hard to try to prove them wrong. But nowadays, I don’t need to prove s*** to anybody.”

Smith, who rose to fame as early as age nine with her debut single “Whip My Hair”, went on to explain why she feels the “nepo baby” label doesn’t prescribe to her as a Black woman.

“There have been some experiences where I went into a place that I have worked in the past and my picture could even be up on the wall, and they treat me like: ‘This is a little bit out of your price range’ or ‘You don’t really belong here,’” she recalled. “Being Black in America, even with privilege, which I’m never going to deny that I have, you’re still Black. And I love being Black.

“People would look at me and [say]: ‘Okay, well, her parents are this and this and that, but she still is like me. She still has brown skin.’ And we all know that that doesn’t exempt you from anything, and that’s a place of connection,” Smith said.

Willow Smith attends Vanity Fair Oscar Party with father Will Smith, mother Jada Pinkett Smith, and brothers Jaden Smith and Trey Smith in March 2022 (Getty Images)

Since her debut single in 2011 and subsequently going on tour with Justin Bieber, Smith has continued to release hit songs such as “Wait a Minute!” and “Meet Me At Our Spot” in 2015 and 2020, respectively.

Elsewhere during the interview, Smith spoke about the freedom that her mother gave her to express herself, like allowing her to shave her head when she was 12. “My mother allowed me to do that because she strongly believed that being able to express myself in that way was very important,” she shared. “And I completely agree with her because it helped me figure out who I am.”

Along with the “Where You Are” singer, actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith are parents to 25-year-old son, rapper Jaden Smith. The King Richard star is also a father to son Trey Smith, 31, from his previous marriage to Sheree Zampino.

In recent years, debates about nepotism in Hollywood have pervaded both the internet and the entertainment industry. “Nepo baby” is the title ascribed to children of famous mothers and fathers, who’ve been helped in their own careers due to their parents’ connections.

Most notably, New York Magazine published a nepotism-themed cover featuring Hollywood stars who have famous mothers and fathers in December 2022. The cover, titled “The Year of the Nepo Baby,” included a graphic of different celebrities’ faces edited onto the body of a baby. Some of the celebrities with famous parents included Dakota Johnson, Jack Quaid, Zoë Kravitz, Ben Platt, Maya Hawke, and Lily Rose-Depp.

However, Smith isn’t the only child of famous parents who’s attempted to shut down their “nepo baby” status. Earlier this month, New Girl star Zooey Deschanel denied that nepotism played a role in her own career. Her father, Caleb Deschanel, is a cinematographer who has worked on movies including The Lion King, The Patriot, My Sister’s Keeper, and The Passion of Christ, while her mother is Twin Peaks actor Mary Jo Deschanel. Her sister, Emily Deschanel, has also appeared in Bones and Spider-Man 2.

“It’s funny because people will be like, ‘Oh, nepotism’, I’m like no. My dad’s a DP [director of photography]. No one’s getting jobs because their dad’s a DP. It’s definitely not,” Deschanel said on The School of Greatness podcast.

Oscar winner Jamie Lee Curtis – who is the daughter of Some Like It Hot star Tony Curtis and Psycho’s Janet Leigh – previously claimed the debate surrounding nepotism is “designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt” people, while Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow once said that nepotism babies in Hollywood have to “work twice as hard” to prove themselves in the industry.



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