In Hollywood, nepotism isn’t limited to who has famous parents. Having a celebrity as an older sibling can provide a major boost to your entertainment career — but the constant comparisons can also hold you back.
Here’s what 14 celebs with famous siblings said about growing up in their shadow:
Noah Cyrus is Miley Cyrus’s little sister.
In her song “Young and Sad,” Noah reflected on growing up with Miley. She sang, “My sister’s like sunshine always bringing good light wherever she will go, and I was born to rain clouds, then they blew the flame out, blessed in our shadows.”
Discussing the song on Instagram Live, she said, “I think just the message of the second verse, being born in the family I was in, everybody gave me such a hard time for having a hard time being Miley’s little sister. But I always felt like I was that person that no one gave a shit about due to what people said to me online. It was absolutely unbearable.”
She continued, “Because that’s what everybody always said to me: that no matter what, I was always gonna be in that shadow. And I always believed that. And that’s so hard for me to overcome.”
“Basically, that was what the song was about, and I just wanted to open up about that, once and for all, because that’s been a big part of my life. And I probably won’t talk about it anymore, but I just wanted to put it out,” she said.
Frankie Jonas is the younger brother of Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas.
When he was 5, his parents told him that they were moving the family to LA for his brothers’ music career. He told Bustle that he felt like his “future just slowly died.” Afterward, it was “kind of just decided that [he’d] act.”
He said, “It was a conversation — I don’t remember it, but I’ve been told about it — regarding the fans of my brothers, who also had a similar kinship to me as this symbol, as this mascot. ‘Frankie could theoretically act. He could be in their shows. He can continue that legacy of that mascot-like character.'”
He also “always hated” the nickname his brothers’ fans gave him — “the Bonus Jonas.”
He said, “A lot of my problem with being in the public eye was that I was seen as this commodified vision of myself.”
When he downloaded Twitter at 12, seeing the horrible things people wrote about him was damaging. He said, “A lot of it was like, ‘If you ever feel forgotten, remember this guy.’ Or, ‘Frankie Jonas is a talentless sack of sh*t.’ … It became a form of self-harm to look at these things… It really became a serious issue for me. A lot of that perpetuated the idea that I was just this meme. I was this joke, and my entire identity to people was ‘adjacent,’ which really affected myself and the way that I thought about the world and the way I felt about myself.”
However, Frankie recently began building his own audience on TikTok, leading his fans to jokingly comment, “Are you Frankie’s brother?” on Kevin, Joe, and Nick’s posts.
He said, “Everything that I talk about on TikTok… No one knew that that was how I speak, how I express myself, what I think is funny. I was just making jokes, thinking no one was hearing them. And then people heard them and liked them. I thought, ‘I’m going to continue to do this,’ because I’ve never had my thing really. This feels like so much of my thing. It feels so empowering to have a thing.”
Elizabeth Olsen is the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
She first began to understand nepotism when she tried acting at 10. She told Glamour UK, “During that time, I thought ‘I don’t want to be associated with [Mary-Kate and Ashley],’ for some reason. I guess I understood what nepotism was like inherently as a 10-year-old. I don’t know if I knew the word, but there is some sort of association of not earning something that I think bothered me at a very young age.”
She continued, “It had to do with my own insecurities, but I was 10. So I don’t know how much I processed, but I did think, ‘I’m going to be Elizabeth Chase [her middle name] when I become an actress.'”
Bella Hadid is Gigi Hadid’s younger sister.
She’s struggled with comparisons to Gigi all her life. She told Vogue, “I was the uglier sister. I was the brunette. I wasn’t as cool as Gigi, not as outgoing. That’s really what people said about me. And unfortunately when you get told things so many times, you do just believe it.”
She continued, “I always ask myself, how did a girl with incredible insecurities, anxiety, depression, body-image issues, eating issues, who hates to be touched, who has intense social anxiety — what was I doing getting into this business? But over the years I became a good actress. I put on a very smiley face, or a very strong face. I always felt like I had something to prove.”
Previously, Bella discussed comparing herself to her sister, telling Seventeen, “I just have to remind myself that she’s been doing this forever. I can’t keep comparing myself to her because we’re so different.”
She continued, “But people still love to compare and contrast us — what’s better about her or what’s not that good about me — and it’s hard because people are really mean. But I’m her biggest supporter, and she’s my biggest supporter. We’re not competitive at all.”
Solange Knowles is Beyoncé’s little sister.
She was eager to separate her success from her sister’s from the get-go. She told Faze, “I’ve had a lot of doors open because of her, but at the end of the day, I hope my talent will outshine any connection I have.”
She continued, “Musically, Beyoncé supports me. Personally, she says to stay humble in the business.”
“Don’t try to live up to your siblings’ expectations. Don’t try to live up to what other people are going to expect of you. You basically have to enter the game knowing that you have to be confident, you have to be yourself and you can’t rely on anyone else to create a success story for you, otherwise it’s all a gimmick and it’s not real,” she said.
Indy Yelich-O’Connor — who recently released her debut single, “Threads“— is Lorde’s younger sister.
She told the NY Post that her sister’s fame is “a part of [her] life.” She said, “And I’m not going to avoid it… But it only takes up a small section of my book [of poetry, Sticky Notes].”
Indy told Refinery29, “I think definitely being Lorde’s sister maybe made me want to find my own voice. Writing for me is the one thing that I just am free. I think that I was really blessed to have her become so well known because it kind of taught me so many life lessons.”
She said, “The only person that compared [us] was me. In my book, I didn’t want to address it too much, but there’s three poems, there’s one called ‘An Unintended Spring,’ and it just talks about…basically, I had so much anxiety about ‘Will I ever be this great?’ because I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. There are a few poems that really do talk about it, and it’s a very vocal point in the book, but it’s only a few times.”
Mónica Cruz is Penélope Cruz’s little sister.
Growing up, she never felt like she was in her sister’s shadow. She told the Daily Mail, “No, we are all individuals. Penélope was hyperactive – she didn’t sleep or eat – and I was always the calm child… The other day we were looking at some home videos of us as children and Penélope was always the clown – acting, singing, fooling around – and I would just be sitting there looking at her. Just quietly sitting staring at my big sister.”
She also expressed how proud she was of their brother Eduardo and his music career. She said, “It is very important for us to be seen as individuals with our own careers. I think it is very intelligent of Eduardo to pursue his music in the way he has, and it’s only now that he is established that he has asked us to be in his new video.”
Ashlee Simpson is Jessica Simpson’s little sister.
She never compared her career to Jessica’s. She told Today, “We’re sisters. For us it’s not about competition. If she succeeds, then I’m happy, and if I succeed, then our family wins no matter what.”
However, she also clarified that she wasn’t following in her sister’s footsteps. She said, “I’m not going to not do music just because my sister sings. The Jacksons did it. It runs in your genes. Our personalities are so different it reflects in our music.”
Sandra Vergara is Sofía Vergara’s younger sister.
She told HuffPost that sharing a last name with such a popular actor helped her break into acting. She said, “It helps, not because Sofía helped me. It’s not like that. I did everything on my own, but it helps because it’s name recognition.”
She continued, “She is beloved by the public, and so being related to someone who is so dear is a good thing.”
“There’s really not much anyone can do to help another person. For me, leveraging is a myth. She did it on her own. I’ll do it on my own. That’s how it is. As much as Sofía can say to someone, they have to be impressed by you,” she said.
She also said, “She’s helped me out in a number of other things. She invited me to live with her in Los Angeles, and that’s where I started to take off and choose what I wanted to do — and for that I’m grateful to her for everything.”
Kendall Jenner is the younger sister of Kim, Kourtney, and Khloé Kardashian.
Since she was only 11 when Keeping Up With the Kardashians premiered, she grew up watching her sisters learn how to grapple with fame. As an adult, she applied what she learned from them to her own career.
Kendall told Vogue, “Obviously, my success came after my sisters’ — I got to see all of their mistakes and watch out for them.”
She also said, “If I’m being honest, my little sister [Kylie] and I have every right to go crazy. You would expect that from us. But neither of us has the desire to do that. I think it says a lot about the way we were raised. Not even just by my parents, but my Kardashian sisters and what they’ve taught us. My parents did something right, and thank God.”
She said, “One of the best lessons I ever learned from my sisters is not to take everything so seriously. Just leave it alone — it will pass in a week. That’s how I grew up. My sisters are so fucking strong, and they taught me and my little sister to just toughen up and not let it affect us. You know what’s real.”
Scott Evans is Chris Evans’s little brother.
They’ve never seen each other as competition — except for when it comes to prank wars.
The brothers are also super supportive of each other’s acting careers. When Chris walked the red carpet for the premiere of Scott’s movie Sell By, the younger Evans told Us Weekly, “Today, I was like, ‘Don’t worry, you don’t have to do the carpet.’ He’s like, ‘I’ll do carpet if you want.’ I was like ‘Chris! Amazing!’ You know, having somebody like him here is also good for the festival and exposure.”
Scott also said, “It was funny because I’ve gone to so many premieres and things for him and he’s never really been in town or not working where he’s been able to come to mine. And I just randomly was like, ‘Oh, will you be able to make it to New York for this?’ And he was like,’‘Sure! Yeah!’ I was like, ‘Oh really? You’re coming!'”
Elle Fanning is Dakota Fanning’s younger sister.
Speaking to Net-A-Porter, Elle recalled the one time she felt jealous of her sister’s success. She said, “I auditioned to be on Friends. I think I was gonna be one of Phoebe’s triplets…but I didn’t get it. Then [Dakota] was on it, and I refused to watch the episode.”
In a follow-up interview, she admitted that, as a child, she found a way to use Dakota’s fame to irritate her big sister. She said, “I wasn’t getting recognized, but I was part of the madness. I’d be like, ‘Dakota! Dakota!’ to try and make it happen. I was the worst.”
Christopher Ciccone is Madonna’s younger brother.
In 2008, he published a memoir called Life With My Sister Madonna, which contained many bitter reflections on their lives together. In an excerpt shared with the Guardian, he described the book as “bitching about that mediocre diva whom I adore really.”
He wrote, “I am not oblivious to my sister’s many shortcomings at this time. I know she uses people and then drops them, I know she is self-centred, but I forgive her for all this. I don’t have a lot of choice. The moment I confront her, the gravy train stops.”
“She fires me 19 times more and each time I apologise and promise to go to Kabbalah, but when she refuses to reimburse me for the Athena print I bought for her London home, I’ve finally had enough. So now, I sit alone in my bedsit, bitter, yet content, praying for the moment Madonna’s career hits the skids and her kids end up in therapy. Just like me,” he wrote.
And finally, Dannii Minogue is Kylie Minogue’s younger sister.
She finds the comparisons “so annoying.” She told Brush With Fame, “I remember there was a lot of stuff written about my weight and comparing my size and physique to my sister, and the general crux of it was Kylie’s this perfect human being and I’m not.”
The comparisons were particular painful for Dannii while she was going through her divorce. In her memoir My Story, she wrote, “I was struggling with the stark realisation that nobody wanted me — not my record company, not my husband and definitely not the public. I tried not to get too ‘woe is me’ about it, but as the weeks went on the only time I saw my name in print or heard it mentioned on TV or radio was as the less successful Minogue sister.”
She continued, “I can tell you, it’s not easy to be publicly pitted against someone you love and admire. It hurts. The truth of the matter is I never felt like I was competing with my sister. The truth is I am and always have been so very proud of Kylie, and she is of me.”