The Jurassic World star, widely known as one of Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard’s daughters and not Oscar-winning actress Jessica Chastain, took to Instagram this past week, to share an epiphany she once had about the entertainment industry when her former classmates—no, not her—graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2003.
“A message to aspiring artists & fellow dreamers,” the post’s lengthy caption begins. “When I graduated high school in the spring of ’99, I was thoroughly optimistic about starting my career. By the time, my classmates graduated college, 20 years ago this May, I felt completely different. There was a stark reality that I had simply not been prepared for: what it *actually* takes to ‘make it’ in the entertainment industry.”
For those unfamiliar with Howard’s bio, she took a leave of absence after her third year at NYU to enter the workforce—if you’re not counting her appearances in four of her dad’s movies prior to that point. Over the next five years, she starred in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, his follow-up Lady In the Water, and Lars Von Trier’s Manderlay. She eventually completed her degree in 2020.
But just like the rest of her normie classmates, Howard apparently learned that being an actor is, indeed, very, very hard.
“My peers and I were fortunate to attend one of the best drama schools, but there was a massive gap,” Howard continued in her post. “While school gave us an amazing foundation, we finished our formal training and still felt stuck because we were told our only option was to wait for someone else to hire us. Sound familiar?”
(As an average American, who can’t just walk into a business and declare they have a job there, it does! Does Howard know that there’s a “massive gap” between her and most of her peers?)
The 42-year-old follows up with some career advice she got from her thespian grandparents, Rance Howard and Jean Speegle Howard: “to make a consistent living in the entertainment industry you must become a multi-hyphenate (actor/director/writer/producer) and create work for yourself AND your peers.”
(Networking! What a concept!)
Howard goes on to write that it’s her “mission to empower newcomers with the same strategies that [she’s] observed and practiced,” because “there IS a path to ‘making it.’” She then shares that she’s planning on offering “tips, ideas, & stories” to help budding actors “navigate the showbiz landscape.” Presumably, we can expect some sort of MasterClass-type course from Howard in the near future.
Listen, I’m not the type of Very Online pop-culture person who pokes fun at Howard for somehow being both a C-list actress and a serial blockbuster star. I appreciate her contributions to the Twilight saga and thought her controversial, high-heel running in Jurassic World was actually subversive. I even thought she was good in The Help, for Christ’s sake.
Nonetheless, I must acknowledge the absurdity of this very goofy post that fails to mention her nepo-baby privilege and has way too many mentions of “we” and “us” when describing the career trajectory of most actors. Twitter was quick to call out Howard for her tone-deaf post, labeling her comments as “nonsense” and pointing out her illustrious surname. Many of the comments under her Instagram post are similarly critical.
Putting aside the obvious disparity between average folks and people with rich, well-connected parents, there’s plenty of other factors that determine the success or failure of someone in Hollywood, including race, gender, sexuality, size, etc—not to mention, the current flop state of Hollywood itself, with fast-disappearing shows and soon-to-be AI-generated projects.
I’m not going to dig into all of that, though, because Howard’s post is ultimately harmless—just ill-advised. And I’m sure some budding actors out there would rather have some (albeit very obvious) advice from Howard about building communities and “being your own boss,” if it’s readily available.
I also know the internet gets similarly annoyed when actors go out of their way to address their nepotism. Even Twitter fave Allison Williams’ initially well-received remarks about her nepo-baby status have grown a bit tiresome. It’s similar to when white people acknowledge their privilege to me as if I benefit in any way from knowing that they’re self-aware. Venmo me $10,000, instead!
Still, Howard should’ve at least anticipated how this post would be perceived. I personally think shilling a guaranteed “path to making it” in an industry that has proven to be anything but meritocracy is overall misleading. But a brief statement addressing the exclusive resources she’s had access to throughout her career would presumably reduce some of the backlash.
Overall, I applaud Howard for somehow one-upping that terrible NAACP campaign she participated in during 2020’s Black Lives Matter protests, where she and a bunch of other white celebrities “took responsibility” for racism. You never cease to amaze me!