She Explains Why She’s Not a Nepo Baby

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Zooey Deschanel says having a cinematographer for a dad and an actor for a mom doesn’t make her a nepo baby.

“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 (nepotism),” the former “New Girl” star, 44, said during a recent interview on “The School of Greatness” podcast.

Deschanel’s father is Caleb Deschanel, a cinematographer who’s been nominated for six Academy Awards for his work on “The Right Stuff,” “The Natural,” “Fly Away Home,” “The Patriot,” “The Passion of the Christ” and “Never Look Away.”

Her mom is actor Mary Jo Deschanel, who was a regular on the TV series “Twin Peaks” and appeared in movies including “The Right Stuff” and “The Patriot.”

Zooey Deschanel with sister Emily, father Caleb and mother Mary Jo on the 2019 Oscars red carpet.
Zooey Deschanel with sister and former “Bones” star Emily Deschanel, father Caleb Deschanel and mother Mary Jo Deschanel at the 2019 Academy Awards.Dan MacMedan / Getty Images

The “Elf” star’s older sister is well-known actor Emily Deschanel, 47, who starred as Temperance “Bones” Brennan on the Fox series “Bones.”

In recent years, the Deschanel sisters, along with Malia Obama, Maya Hawke and dozens of other A-list celebrities, have been branded nepo babies — that is, famous people who may have benefited from nepotism thanks to their famous family members in Hollywood.

Though Zooey Deschanel rejects the idea that her parents’ TV and movie careers helped pave the way for her own, she does acknowledge that there were benefits to having family members in the business.

The “creative” stimulation and the emotional support the “(500) Days of Summer” star received at home kept her going at times, the mom of two, who is engaged to HGTV star Jonathan Scott, said on the podcast.

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

“I’d have so many great discussions about film and filmmaking with my dad. They both would help me so much. My dad would also read lines with me and give me great direction,” she continued.

“And then having a sister who’s an actor,” she added. “It just makes you automatically have a community, and how much our communities help us — whether it is our family or whether it’s our found communities, our found families — that’s so important to keeping going.”

Deschanel emphasized that her family gave her the strength to stick to her acting dreams.

“This is a business,” she explained, adding, “It’s easy to just want to go away. Because it can be like, ugh. You just have to not go away. You have to just keep sticking it out.”

Deschanel recalled lulls during her career that proved to be frustrating, like dropping out of college after landing one of her first big roles, in the movie “Almost Famous” — and then getting “no work” for an entire year afterward.

Deschanel was determined to keep plugging away despite the setbacks. “You just have to be like, no, I like this enough. I’m just going to … keep doing it,” she said.

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