Zooey Deschanel Says She’s Never Gotten Jobs Because of Her Famous Dad


Zooey Deschanel
Momodu Mansaray/FilmMagic

Despite her family’s rich history in Hollywood, Zooey Deschanel wants to make it clear she carved out a career all on her own.

While the New Girl star, 44, comes from illustrious lineage — her father, Caleb, is a cinematographer, and her mother, Mary Jo, is an actress — Zooey balked at the suggestion she’s a “nepo baby.”

“It’s funny because people will be like, ‘Nepotism!’ No, my dad’s a DP,” Zooey said on a recent episode of “The School of Greatness” podcast. “No one’s getting jobs because their dad’s a DP [director of photography]. Definitely not.”

Caleb, 79, is a six-time Academy Award nominee, best known for his work on movies like The Natural, Fly Away Home, The Patriot, The Passion of the Christ and 2019’s The Lion King.

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Meanwhile, Mary Jo, 78, is best known for her role on Twin Peaks while also appearing in movies like The Right Stuff, My Sister’s Keeper and Ruby Sparks.

While rejecting the nepo baby moniker — a distinction given to privileged individuals with famous parents, most usually used to define actors and other performers — Zooey was quick to acknowledge how fortunate she’s been in other ways.

She said, “I can’t possibly emphasize enough how much creative help I had from my family unit.”

“My dad is a great creative mind and such a talented person,” she continued. “Like, knows everything about film. My mom is a great actor and is so nurturing. My mom would coach me when I didn’t have an acting coach; She would help me, read lines with me. She’d be so supportive.”

Zooey explained that having artistic parents “just automatically makes you have community.”

The actress earned her first acting credit with a guest appearance on the Kirstie Alley–starring NBC sitcom Veronica’s Closet in 1998 and made her film debut in 1999’s Mumford, written and directed by Lawrence Kasdan.

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Recently, actress Dakota Johnson — whose parents are Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson — poked fun at being called a nepo baby during her January 27 Saturday Night Live hosting gig.

During a sketch featuring Please Don’t Destroy, Dakota entered into a “nepo truce” with group members John Higgins and Martin Herlihy, whose fathers are SNL producer Steve Higgins and former SNL writer Tim Herlihy, respectively.

“When that first started I found it to be incredibly annoying and boring,” Dakota, 34, later said on the February 8 episode of the Today show. “If you’re a journalist, write about something else. That’s just lame. So the opportunity to make fun of it, I jumped at.”


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