A famous last name will get you everywhere, right? It seems like Elizabeth Olsen might have had it easy getting into the movie business. She happened to be related to two extremely successful young women who could introduce her to any number of influential people. Her name was already recognizable. She had a pre-existing fanbase of people who adore her sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley. All in all, you would think that the younger sister benefited a bit from nepotism.
But it turns out that Elizabeth Olsen spent a lot of time working against that basic assumption. In a recent interview for Glamour, the starlet explained, “‘My last name has always been my motivator to get proper acting training and be taken seriously. I didn’t get to where I am because of who I’m related to.”
The assertion is a strong one, but it’s one that Olsen really has the right to make. Her acting performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene was critically acclaimed and earned her multiple award nominations. She has some exciting projects in the works right now, including Kill Your Darlings where she’ll play Edie Parker. The actress has obviously proven that proper training paid off.
But Olsen also touched on another aspect of nepotism, one we don’t talk about nearly as much. There is a strong level of expectation that comes with carrying a famous last name. And not just for actors, professionals headed in to the family business have legacies to live up to. And that pressure to succeed can be a very difficult battle when you’re just starting out.
Those who come into their professional with a well-known name don’t experience the same learning curve that other newcomers might get. Bosses, co-workers and consumers can all assume that an “inbred” talent already knows the ropes of their industry. Those assumptions to lead to someone missing out on training that they might have needed.
Elizabeth Olsen obviously seems to have handled all her expectations well. She’s succeeding without much input from her sisters at all, aside from a few stray quotes about how proud they are. (And who wouldn’t be!) But it’s interesting to note that this isn’t the first time Olsen has brought up not trading on her name. It seems to be a theme in her interviews, as if she wants to assure the world that she get there on her own. Fighting against that presumed special treatment might just as big of a battle as getting your foot in the door.
(Photo: Stefan Jeremiah/WENN.com)