I was checking out the actors and actresses who were nominated for Academy Awards this year and found that of the actresses nominated, 4 out of 5 nominees came from well-connected families or very upper middle class backgrounds. Rooney Mara is part of a football dynasty, Meryl Streep’s dad was a Big Pharma executive who lived in Bernardsville, NJ (very posh), Michelle Williams dad was a wealthy stock broker and Glenn Close’s family went back to colonial Viginia and also featured major hospital/brokerage people. The only exception to this trend was Viola Davis whose mother and grandmother were domestic servants on a plantation in the deep south, which *might* have something to do with the reason why she was cast in the movie The Help, even though she has a slew of other drama awards for various roles.
On the men’s side, all but two come from a working class/middle class background. George Clooney came from a political family and is also a nephew of Rosemary Clooney. Demien Bichir’s family is in the acting biz in Mexico. Since Clooney and Bichir’s connections are within the acting profession, you might call that a professional relationship.
I just thought it was interesting that given this particular set of data for this year, it appears that your chances of getting to the top of the acting world if you’re a woman has a lot to do with who your daddy knows. Of course, your “connexions” can’t act for you but your chances of getting your foot in the door appear to be greater if your family has money and know people who owe them favors.
If you’re an actor looking to reach the top, just be born incredibly good looking and work on your trade.
Which makes me wonder what happens to all of the phenomenally talented women who come from working class backgrounds. I mean, how do we know that the acting we are seeing is the best that there is if the only people who ever make it in Hollywood are the scions of the investment class? That’s not to say that Meryl Streep and Glenn Close aren’t incredibly talented and I’d watch Brad Pitt in anything. But if this is our standard, how do we know it is set high enough?
The reason I ask is because the science profession is sort of getting to be this way. You’re nobody if you haven’t got a PhD from Harvard. And we know that getting into Harvard is not merely a matter of merit. The Ivies turn down thousands of well qualified applicants every year. What if your brain doesn’t kick into gear until your sophomore year and you’re in a state university? Can you even get a job anymore? It’s who you know these days. Who is going to be your patron. What if you come from a working class background and don’t have a patron? Can a Steve Jobs type even get an interview at Apple these days and if the answer is no, is that trend supposed to be good for America?