“Nepo-approved nepo-baby academy”

Students evaluate the culture of nepotism at school in view of Vulture’s December 2022 “The Year of the Nepo Baby” series.


Printed With Permission of Joe Darrow and Fallon Dern

From New York Magazine’s “Where Should You Send Your Nepo Baby to High School?”

Averie Perrin

Bronwyn Vance ’24 stared at the TV screen as she watched the Golden Globes, anxiously waiting to hear the winner for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. When she heard that Angela Bassett (Bronwyn ’24, Slater ’24), her mom, had won her second Golden Globe for her role in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” Vance screamed with joy. Bassett made history by winning the first Golden Globe for a Marvel Studios film.

Vance said she and her family were elated by her mom’s historic win.

“I’m really proud of her, and our whole family is so proud of her,” Vance said. “[For] a Black woman to win the award for Marvel was pretty amazing. Her performance was just so powerful.” 

Bassett won the Critics’ Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress for “Wakanda Forever,” and her role in the film earned her a nomination for an Academy Award this year. Bassett’s husband, Courtney Vance, is also an award-winning stage, film and television actor.

Vance said her parents’ successful careers and talent inspire her but also set a very high standard for her and her brother.

“I’m so proud of them, but [their success] also instills a precedent for both me and my brother to also achieve a lot in our future,” Vance said. “It’s kind of hard because I want to achieve as much as they have and I don’t want to let them down, in a sense, because they’ve done so much. ”

In December 2022, Vulture released “The Year of the Nepo Baby,” a series of articles describing the presence of family connections within the Entertainment industry. The article identified popular schools for children of these well-known people, one of which was Harvard-Westlake. A photo of the middle school campus was featured as the cover image for the article titled “Where Should You Send Your Nepo Baby to High School?”

Lily Collins, Ben Platt and Jake and Maggie Gyllenhaal are just four of the alleged nepo babies who earned their diplomas from the school and are now making strides in Hollywood.

After this article came out, Vance said people accused her of being a ‘nepo baby,’ and though she understands why she was, she believes the label does not take away from her other struggles in life.

“I was called a ‘nepo baby’ last week, which is fine, and I understand that I’m privileged, and like, I am a ‘nepo baby,’ but I’m not really in the spotlight,” Vance said. “If you see me on the street, most people won’t be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, let me take a picture of you.’ I do have a lot of privilege and a lot of status in life, and it’s great, but it’s not like, ‘oh, I’m famous because my parents are.’ I still have to make a life for myself outside of my parents.”

Vance said some people have shallow and biased opinions of her because of her family. 

“Sometimes, people don’t really value a friendship or people sometimes see me as just a ‘nepo baby,’” Vance said. “People also [say], ‘Oh you’re rich, so that takes away from your Black experience.’ Or, ‘You’re rich,’ or ‘You’re a whitewash because your parents are rich.’ With things like that, I don’t want people to think that I’m not black, or I’m not black enough, [or that] I’m not part of the community enough just because of my parents.”

Despite people’s notions of privilege in the lives of nepo babies, Vance said her parents’ demanding jobs can take away from their family relationship.

“Since their jobs and their lives are so busy, they weren’t and have not been around very much in my childhood,” Vance said. “Even in high school, I grew up mostly with a nanny for most of my life, just because my parents weren’t really able to be there because they were working so much and had to travel so much.”

In addition to school connections to the film industry, some students are related to influential figures in the sports world. Christian Horry ’24, the son of seven-time NBA Championship winner Robert Horry, said people often treat him differently once they realize who his dad is. Horry said he worries that students’ celebrity intrigue will lead him into shallow relationships. 

“I don’t go around telling people who [my dad] is, so usually, when I’ve already established a friendship with somebody, and then they find out, they pretty much treat me the same, but for those who already know, it’s just like they kind of have an incentive to become friends with me, so that will kind of be the basis of the friendship,” Horry said.

Horry said there are unfortunate costs of being the son of a celebrity, but he also noted the benefits of having a parent who is renowned for the activity he enjoys as a student. Horry, who plays on the Varsity boys basketball team, said his dad is his mentor for basketball and gives him valuable feedback.

“If I play badly one time, I’ll just immediately go and talk to my dad,” Horry said. “He’s usually at every single one of my games, so he’ll also give me advice while I’m on the court. I just look at him, and he will signal something, like ‘do defense’ or something about a jump shot, or something that he sees on the floor. He’ll communicate it to me. So the best thing is that with my dad being as good of a basketball player as he was, [he is] able to relay the information to me and make me better as a basketball player. It’s really special.”

Horry said even though his father is considered by many to be a legend of the sport, he does not feel much pressure from his dad to excel in basketball.

“My dad doesn’t really put a lot of pressure on me,” Horry said. “He just wants me to be the best player I can be, whether that’s to become better than him, worse than him or the same player he was. He’s not really about pressure.” 

Robert Horry was recently ejected from a basketball game against St. Francis that his son was playing in for yelling at the referees, according to a video obtained by TMZ Sports. 

Horry said his dad also tended to be busy during his childhood, but he has recently been able to connect more with his father.

“Growing up, the only problems that really came with [having an athlete parent] was that he would be gone a lot because of work and would have to travel a lot,” Horry said. “Sometimes it’d be just me and my mom, but other than that, now that work has started to slow down, I’ve really been able to be with him. It’s been great. I’ve been able to go to NBA games, go to NBA All Star games and do things that I normally wouldn’t be able to do.”

While Horry said he recognizes the benefits of his dad’s status, Angie Guetta ’25, the daughter of French DJ and music producer David Guetta, said her dad’s career brings her unwanted attention.

“I think a lot of people are attracted by [my dad’s fame] and hence treat me differently,” Guetta said. “I try to surround myself, at least in my close friends, with people that don’t really pay attention to my dad’s popularity and are friends with me for who I am as a person.”

Guetta said she does not see herself joining the entertainment industry in the future because she wants to make her own name for herself.

“I don’t picture myself working in that world, firstly because of seeing how much work my dad puts in,” Guetta said. “I think it’s essential to be incredibly passionate, even kind of fanatical [with] any job in that industry. Whether [you are a] singer, actor or producer, it demands a strong ardency and perseverance. Also, it’s difficult in my opinion to be part of the music world for a living, because I would always be compared to my dad and his achievements, and one of my main ambitions for the future is to be successful on my own and not under my parent’s shadow.”

Noa Blackman ’25 said she read the Vulture Article and was interested by the mention of the school.

“I saw that they specifically said when people went to Harvard-Westlake and Crossroads [School],” Blackman said. “I found out that a bunch of people that I didn’t know went here and also thought it was cool that they specifically mentioned our school. I feel like we all already knew that people have certain ties to the industry, but I didn’t realize how connected it was to our community.”

Blackman said students with well-known or famous parents are treated differently than regular students.

“I definitely think [these students] have different experiences, because obviously, when you have that name, that makes a difference,” Blackman said. “I was just talking to my friend Alexander Puck ’25 [Wolfgang Puck’s son]. He told me his dad got asked to cater for the Harvard-Westlake cafeteria, so it definitely makes a difference, but Harvard-Westlake is kind of accustomed to it in some ways, and it doesn’t make a difference with individual teachers.” 

English teacher Jeremy Michaelson said he was surprised by the large presence of the entertainment industry at the school when he unknowingly criticized the work of one of his student’s parents.

“One year, I was teaching a book, and I mentioned in class how the film version wasn’t very good,” Michaelson said. “At that point, a kid in class got a sly smile on her face. I could tell something was up. ‘My mom produced that movie,’ she said. I was dumbstruck. Fortunately, my student took pity on me. ‘Don’t worry about it, Mr. Michaelson,’ she said, ‘My mom knows it’s not a good movie.’”