Natasha Lyonne has waded into the “nepo baby” conversation, joking that she would like to become one.
A ‘nepo baby’ is a term coined on social media to refer to a person who has had help in the industry they work in because of their family connections or proximity to an already successful person in that field.
It is generally applied to people in Hollywood and the entertainment industry, especially after Vulture and New York magazines published a flowchart of celebrities with influential parents or family. It was suggested their connections helped them get to where they are.
However, despite starting her career at just age 6, Lyonne is far from a ‘nepo baby.’
The former child star was cast as Opal on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and soon landed roles in Heartburn, A Man Called Sarge, and Dennis the Menace.
At the age of 16, she was cast in Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You and, as an adult, is best known for her work in Orange Is the New Black and Russian Doll. Lyonne also had a star-making role in the cult film But I’m a Cheerleader.
She was born in New York to Orthodox Jewish parents, Ivette Buchinger and Aaron Braunstein, who was a promoter, race car driver and radio host, Lyonne told Marc Maron in 2013 on his WTF podcast.
Her closest claim to fame through her family was that her father was distantly related to Al Jaffee, now 101, a cartoonist known for his work on the satirical Mad magazine, another fact Lyonne shared with Maron.
The family moved to Israel in the late 1980s, where they stayed for 18 months. It gave Lyonne another early go at acting, when she appeared in the children’s film April Fool.
Lyonne infamously almost lost her career when she began many years of drug misuse and even admitted to auditioning for Allen while high. She was forced to have surgery in 2012 because of heart-valve damage brought on from her drug misuse.
However, Lyonne made her comeback in the acclaimed Netflix drama, Orange Is the New Black, where she played the “junkie philosopher” Nicky.
Her latest project is a collaboration with Knives Out director Rian Johnson on a 10-part detective series on Peacock called Poker Face.
Premiering on January 26, Lyonne stars as Charlie Cale, who has an uncanny ability to spot a lie and uses it to solve mysteries.
The new series will feature big-name guest stars every week, including Adrien Brody, Lil Rel Howery, Cherry Jones, Chloë Sevigny, Hong Chau, Jameela Jamil, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Luis Guzmán, Nick Nolte, Rhea Perlman, Ron Perlman, Simon Helberg, Tim Blake Nelson and Tim Meadows.