Steven Spielberg's Daughter Destry Responds to Claims of Nepotism After Ben Stiller Sparks Debate

"People can argue nepotism, but I know deep down that I worked hard to get where I am and it wasn't easy," Destry Spielberg said

Steven Spielberg; Destry Spielberg; Ben Stiller
Photo: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images; Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

Steven Spielberg's daughter, Destry Spielberg, is addressing claims of nepotism when it comes to her upcoming short film, The Rightway.

Earlier this week, Deadline reported that actor Hopper Penn, who is the son of Sean Penn, had joined the cast of the film, which is set to be directed by Destry, 24. The movie is also written by Stephen King's son Owen King and stars Brian d'Arcy James, whose uncle is the late Blade Runner producer Brian Kelly.

After Franklin Leonard, the founder of The Black List and contributing editor at Vanity Fair, shared an article about the children of several Hollywood stars working on the project together, he tweeted, "Hollywood's a meritocracy, right?"

Destry responded to Leonard's remarks on Twitter, saying. "I worked hard to get to where I am" before acknowledging her "privilege."

"I am just a young aspiring female filmmaker who admires the art of cinema. People can argue nepotism, but I know deep down that I worked hard to get where I am and it wasn't easy. Beyond proud of this film and proud of the team it took to make it," Destry wrote in a since-deleted tweet, per E! News.

In a follow-up statement, which still remains on her Twitter account, the daughter of the Oscar-winning director added, "I acknowledge that i was born with privilege! I own that through and through! I make it my mission to bring new talent into the industry & give opportunities to artists of all backgrounds. No one should be left out because of the connections they dont have."

Destry Spielberg
Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage

Destry's response came after Ben Stiller got into a lengthy debate with Leonard when he chose to defend the work ethic of Hollywood offspring.

Stiller, 55 — who is the son of comedy legends Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara — responded to Leonard's tweet, writing, "Too easy @franklinleonard. People, working, creating. Everyone has their path. Wish them all the best."

In response, Leonard tweeted back, "I do, without fail, but I also think it's important that we acknowledge those paths."

The Zoolander star then wrote, "Yes. Just speaking from experience, and I don't know any of them, I would bet they all have faced challenges. Different than those with no access to the industry. Show biz as we all know is pretty rough, and ultimately is a meritocracy."

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"I don't for a second doubt that they've all faced challenges," Leonard continued the debate. "They're human. I simply reject the claim that the industry is - in the short term or long term - a meritocracy."

"If it were, how do you explain the utter lack of diversity behind the camera? Lack of merit?" he added.

Stiller then tweeted, "100 percent agree. Diversity is much bigger issue. No question. And I see your point, access is access. So yes. I'm saying that untalented people don't really last if they get a break because of who they are or know or are related to."

Leonard hit back, citing "other factors" that prevent those without connections in Hollywood from breaking out, such as "who they know, colonial legacy, sexism, whatever."

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"It's not just access. It's undervaluation. It's active discrimination. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The Hollywood film C-suite is the least diverse sector in American business. Less diverse than Trump's cabinet," Leonard tweeted at Stiller, before adding a gif that read, "Those are the facts."

Stiller simply responded with a gif of Steve Carell from The Office, in which he says, "I am dead inside."

Following their online back and forth, The View covered the debate on its Thursday episode, where co-hosts including Whoopi Goldberg and Meghan McCain discussed the comments made by both Stiller and Leonard.

After the episode aired, Leonard shared a clip of the segment on Twitter, where he wrote that he "did not anticipate this being the result of my stating the simple fact that Hollywood is not a meritocracy along any timeline."

"I say again: If you believe it's a meritocracy, explain Hollywood's utter lack of diversity behind the camera," he added.

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