Jamie Lee Curtis acknowledged her “nepo baby” status in a tongue-in-cheek way at Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Describing how she first became a member of SAG, Curtis — the daughter of two stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh — noted that one of her first roles was in a short-lived ABC series in the 1970s that was based on an earlier movie featuring her father.
“I got my SAG card when I was 19 years old, when I signed a seven-year contract to Universal Studios and starred in an ABC TV series called ‘Operation Petticoat,’ which was based on a movie that my father Tony Curtis — ‘nepo baby,’ starred in,” the Oscar-nominated “Everything Everywhere All at Once” star said to laughter from the audience.
“Now, I was fired from that TV show a year later, and I thought my life was over,” Curtis continued in her “I Am An Actor” segment at the start of Sunday night’s ceremony. “But the good news is that if I hadn’t been fired from Operation Fucking Petticoat, I would have never had the opportunity to audition for a little, tiny, no-budget horror movie called ‘Halloween,’ which changed my life. My name is Jamie Lee Curtis, and I am, proudly, an actor.”
In December, a New York magazine cover story on Hollywood nepotism sparked a wave of “nepo baby” discourse. The story was complimentary of Curtis, classifying the “Halloween,” “True Lies” and “Knives Out” star as a “nepo-baby graduate,” noting that “once you’ve been around long enough or done enough iconic stuff on your own, no one cares who your parents were.”
Curtis initially expressed criticism of the conversation around the term in an Instagram post in December.
“The current conversation about nepo babies is just designed to try to diminish and denigrate and hurt. For the record I have navigated 44 years with the advantages my associated and reflected fame brought me, I don’t pretend there aren’t any, that try to tell me that I have no value on my own,” she wrote. “It’s curious how we immediately make assumptions and snide remarks that someone related to someone else who is famous in their field for their art, would somehow have no talent whatsoever. I have come to learn that is simply not true. I have suited up and shown up for all different kinds of work with thousands of thousands of people and every day I’ve tried to bring integrity and professionalism and love and community and art to my work.”
Now, the actor, who has certainly become a legend in her own right, seems to have come around, poking fun at the term and owning up to it.
Later on Sunday night, Curtis won the SAG Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Deirdre, the memorably grouchy IRS auditor in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
In her acceptance speech, she again referenced the ‘nepo baby’ conversation. “I know you look at me and think, ‘Nepo baby, that’s why you’re here.’ I totally get it,” before calling her award “amazing.”
Curtis is also nominated for an Oscar this year. The ceremony will be held on March 12.