With the rise of YouTube, the narrative of the self-made celebrity is more present than ever. Whereas once upon a time celebrities were delivered to us in their final form, we now get to watch them climb from grainy videos filmed in their parents’ basement to crowd-pleasing appearances on late night talk shows. Gigi Gorgeous for instance, has had fans since she was just a GTA boy going by “Gregory Gorgeous” and doing Drugstore Hauls from his neighbourhood Shopper’s. She now walks in high-profile fashion shows and will soon appear in her first movie.
This, in my opinion, makes it all the more interesting to witness people who become world famous thanks to phone numbers in a family member’s rolodex. While people like Shane Dawson and Smosh have had to hustle and audition and get knocked onto their butts, other and often more famous celebrities just had to tug on a parent’s sleeve and say: “My turn now.”
Perhaps it’s a little presumptuous to assume they never did a day’s work in their lives. Even after Fantastic Four, Jessica Alba still had to audition for a role in Get Smart, a part she didn’t end up getting. But it’s safe to assume, I think, that the following 20 celebrities didn’t have to work nearly as hard as say, Iggy Azalea, who worked three jobs just to pay the bills as she grinded towards her ambition in every minute of her spare time.
20. Dakota Johnson
The female romantic lead from 50 Shades of Grey may seem like a doe-eyed newcomer, but she has actually been groomed for stardom her whole life. Dakota Johnson‘s mom is Melanie Griffith, once sex-symbol, wife of Antonio Banderas, now “10 Plastic Surgeries Gone Terribly Wrong” list entry. (PS: the voice of Puss in Boots is not Dakota Johnson’s dad — that’s Miami Vice‘s Don Johnson.) Even better, her grandmother is the legendary Tippi Hedren, muse to Alfred Hitchcock. Dakota Johnson belongs to a Hollywood dynasty, who would sooner die than see their offspring fail to become one of the world’s most sought-after women.
19. Elizabeth Olsen
You know the Olsen twins from Full House, from New York Minute, from their boho fashion choices and from Mary Kate‘s recent marriage to Olivier Sarkozy at which they served bowls of cigarettes is immaterial. They’re famous and that’s undeniable. Their sister, Elizabeth Olsen, is beautiful – more beautiful than they are, and that’s undeniable. But she got famous because she shared a last name with the twins. She was in many of their movies, always a supporting character to their headliners. Only recently has she peeled off into her own lane, doing for instance The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
18. Drew Barrymore
Few know that Drew Barrymore belongs to a Hollywood dynasty. Her father was John Drew Barrymore and his father was John Barrymore. As long as moving pictures have been on screen, Barrymores have been in the Hills. That’s why there was no way Drew wasn’t going to become famous, even if she didn’t want to. One of her first roles was in mega-director Spielberg‘s E.T., when she was only seven years old. There is no way she could’ve made that decision on her own. Famously, she later became a hardcore party girl, known as one of Tinseltown’s hungriest drug users. Even then, fame never left her, and she still makes movies today.
17. Jaden Smith
Will Smith‘s charm when he first started his career was impossible to naysay. Even his sanitized rap music was too fun to not sing along to. For a long time, it was a Hollywood golden rule that putting the Fresh Prince in a movie meant it would perform well at the box office. So the question is: does Jaden Smith have that same effect on people? I would say no. Back in his heyday, his dad would’ve never had to model women’s clothes to trend on Twitter. These are the kinds of things the younger Smith man must do to remain a part of the conversation. And he is a part of the conversation because of his family, but otherwise he would just be some other Hollywood hopeful screaming into the void.
16. Kelly Osbourne
At this point, Kelly Osbourne is a household name. She’s a pretty constant presence on the E! network, especially Fashion Police which she used to co-host. Many people have probably forgotten, or didn’t even know to begin with, that she got her start as rock and roll legend Ozzy Osbourne‘s daughter on his show The Osbournes. The show only ran for a few seasons and didn’t launch any cultural phenomena on the level of the Kardashians’ contouring. His other child, Jack Osbourne, faded into obscurity (a little bit like Rob Kardashian…). But Kelly clung to the spotlight and got herself known, albeit with the initial nudge from her famous dad.
15. Allison Williams
Allison Williams, who plays the beautiful but socially inept Marnie on Girls, is the daughter of NBC anchor (and publicly disgraced lying machine) Brian Williams. Her dad, formerly one of the most trusted people in the country, was recently exposed lying about his experiences as a foreign news correspondent. He said, amongst other things, that his helicopter was taken down by a rocket propelled grenade. Years later, the people whose helicopter was actually taken down came forward saying that Lyin’ Brian got to the scene in an untouched chopper an hour later. Embarrassing… But before all of this, he used his celebrity clout to get his daughter into showbiz.
14. Casey Affleck
Right now, and I mean at this very moment, Casey Affleck is probably best known for sort of picking a fight with funnyman Stephen Colbert on his late night talk show. But most of the time, he is best known for being Ben Affleck‘s little and less handsome brother. While Ben and Matt Damon worked their butts off writing great movies, Casey Affleck just sort of came along and asked his brother to tag him in and make him famous by association. In other words: Ben and Matt wrote Good Will Hunting, and then plopped Casey down into a role that launched his career.
13. Hailey Baldwin
Endowed with her father, Stephen Baldwin‘s, famous pout, Hailey Baldwin is also endowed with something a little more important of his: his surname (which he actually “got” from his brother, Alec). The 19 year old model, who has already walked for Moschino and Tommy Hilfiger, is undeniably beautiful and in great shape. But would she have made it as a professional model without the connections of her forefathers? While Cara Delevigne has an aura to her, an iconic undeniability, it’s hard to say the same about Hailey Baldwin. What she does have is a family that can call someone at Comcast and say: “Get my kid on TV.”
12. Jakob Dylan
Jakob Dylan is a musician of middling success. His song “One Headlight” came in at #56 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of The 100 Greatest Pop Songs. His band The Wallflowers is relatively well known. But you’ve got to wonder: would he have been anywhere near this famous if he were not the son of one of the (supposedly) greatest rock musicians of all time: Zimmy himself, Mr. Bob Dylan, as you may have guessed from his last name. That’s the thing: you go into any room in the music business and you say your last name is Dylan, people are going to listen to your demo.
11. Colin Hanks
His father is one of the most beloved actors in Hollywood. From his role in Big, to Forrest Gump, even in the Carly Rae Jepsen music video for “I Really Like You”, everything Tom Hanks does is just so darn pleasant. His son, Colin Hanks, it seems, does not have that same characteristic. He’s best known for his role as Jack Bailey in the TV series “The Other Guys”. His most famous movie role is probably 2002’s Orange County with Jack Black and John Lithgow. Once again, he doesn’t have the intense watchability of his father. If he did, he would probably be in a lot more stuff. Were he not his father’s child, he maybe wouldn’t even be in anything, his unmarketable name in that hypothetical not making up for his average talent.
10. Mariska Hargitay
Best known by a long shot for her role as Olivia Benson in NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit, Mariska Hargitay has been around for a while (the show started way back in 1999). The freshest thing she’s been in recently is Taylor Swift‘s “Bad Blood” video, where she can be seen walking down a hallway alongside Grey’s Anatomy’s Ellen Pompeo. Little do many people know, because of Mariska’s exotic appearance and foreign sounding name, she is the daughter of Hollywood royalty Jayne Mansfield. To give you an idea, in her time, Jayne was a sex symbol on the level of Marilyn Monroe. It’s no wonder, with her mother’s beauty, that her daughter was able to become a successful actress of her own.
9. Frankie Grande
Global pop sensation Ariana Grande has a brother. His name is Frankie, he’s 33, and he’s kind of crazy. On Big Brother, he lowkey betrayed his bromantic partner Zach by throwing him under the bus for elimination. He then called himself a social media mogul with a name to uphold. But despite all of the offensive and scandalous things he does, he’s still best known for being Ariana Grande’s gay big brother. As Charlie XCX tweeted during his live-hosting gig of the 2015 AMAs: “Frankie Grande is a 32 year old man obsessing over a 21 year old boy and living under his sister’s shadow, that is what I call rock bottom”.
8. Enrique Iglesias
With one of the most viewed videos ever on YouTube, you’d think that Enrique Iglesias is a star in his own right. Despite what some of these entries seem to suggest, I never went into this list assuming that none of these people would EVER have made it without help from their families. I mean that their last name did most of the hard work for them. This is the case for Enrique Iglesias. His dad, a musician who came before him, is the Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias, responsible for such hits as “Me Olvide de Vivir.” He is known as one of the most prolific latino artists of all time. With that reputation, it was impossible that his musically-oriented son wouldn’t get a couple of special opportunities.
7. Zoe Kravitz
Her father is a badass rock God, most recently seen playing Cinna in the Hunger Games movies. Back in the 90s, Lenny Kravitz dominated radio waves with songs like “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and “Calling All Angels”. He’s one of those artists where you never knew a certain song was by him, but you definitely knew the song. So when Zoe Kravitz decided that she too wanted to be an icon of fashion and cool, her dad simply made it happen (it also didn’t hurt that her mom is the endlessly cool Lisa Bonet). Most recently, Zoe was in Mad Max: Fury Road which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. She’s modeled for both Vera and Alexander Wang.
6. Gigi Hadid
There are quite a few members of the new young Hollywood coterie of models on this list, the unofficial leader of whom is Gigi Hadid (or maybe Kendall Jenner...) In her case, it’s possible that her star-power alone would’ve gotten her to where she is today. When she’s in a fashion spread in a magazine, it’s difficult not to look at only her. But, circumstances do dictate that she was made famous by her family. Her mom is Yolanda Foster of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, herself a former model. Having connections at both Bravo and Ford modelling, it’s quite likely that her mother opened a few doors that other obstruct aspiring models’ paths.
5. Emily Osment
Widely recognized as one of the child actors who’s aged the worst, Haley Joel Osment was everywhere when he was young and cute (most famously as the robotic son in A.I.: Artificial Intelligence). But did any of you know that he was the brother of Emily Osment, who played Miley Cyrus‘s Hannah Montana’s friend Lily Truscott in the Disney Channel show? His fame definitely preceded and exceeded hers. The Sixth Sense and Artificial Intelligence came in quick succession and both had profound effects on pop culture. It’s hard to imagine that his celebrity didn’t affect the roles that were offered her.
4. Nicole Richie
Lionel Richie is one of the best selling musicians of all time. Aside from being flippantly funny on The Simple Life and then later Candidly, Nicole, it doesn’t seem as though Nicole Richie has anything to offer in terms of entertainment. She has great taste and cool hair, but none of her father’s skill. I don’t mean to put her down, I actually think Nicole Richie is great fun. But if anyone on this list is literally only FAMOUS because of their families (rather than famous thanks to their families), Nicole Richie is that person. More than maybe anyone of these entries, Nicole is known AS Lionel Richie’s daughter primarily.
3. Tracee Ellis Ross
Tracee Ellis Ross now plays Rainbow Johnson alongside Anthony Anderson on ABC’s Black-Ish (a GREAT show, by the way). She is beautiful, booty-ful, and her comic timing is pitch perfect. But you’ve gotta wonder if she would be as famous as she is if her mother weren’t Diana Ross, the celebrity to end all celebrities. Diana Ross is one of those few people who lives to see a broadway musical turned award-winning movie made about the story of their career (I’m referring to Dreamgirls, by the way, which is about the story of The Supremes). As wonderful as Tracee Ellis Ross is, she will forever be Diana’s daughter.
2. Haylie Duff
Haylie Duff is the older sister of (former) Disney star Hilary Duff. As you may recall, the two of them made an amazing song together called “Our Lips Are Sealed” that people will listen to forever. After that, Haylie Duff got offered some super DELTA roles in entertainment. She was like, some tertiary character’s love interest in 7th Heaven. Not only does she look like her sister, but they also have a very similar name. That makes them hard to distinguish (note that analogs Jessica and Ashlee Simpson had markedly different colour hair for a long time).
1. Liv Tyler
Like Zoe Kravitz, Nicole Richie, and Jakob Dylan, Liv Tyler‘s father is a famous rockstar. As you may gathered from her last name, she’s the daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. She only found out that she was his daughter at age eight, after noticing a striking resemblance between them and his other daughter, her sister. Six years later, she changed her last name from Rundgren to Tyler and the paternity became public. They two have worked together, her starring in one of his band’s music videos.