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Feb 25, 2020

Finneas O'Connell Tweeted About Success And Sparked A Ton Of Drama About Privilege And Nepotism

"Spoken like someone born to two actors in LA."

Billie Eilish's brother and longtime collaborator, Finneas O'Connell, has been accused of nepotism and failing to acknowledge his privilege after giving fans advice on how to become successful.

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

Finneas, 22, who cowrote and produced Billie's Grammy-winning album in his childhood bedroom, tweeted on Monday to share advice for success with "young creatives".

Amanda Edwards / Getty Images

He wrote: "'Shooting your shot' is promoted widely and I think honestly, it's a little overrated. Work super hard alone or with your closest friends. Make shit so good it speaks for itself. Don't pester people to work with you, let them come to you."

A piece of advice to young creatives. “Shooting your shot” is promoted widely and I think honestly, it’s a little overrated. Work super hard alone or with your closest friends. Make shit so good it speaks for itself. Don’t pester people to work with you, let them come to you

However, while the tweet was presumably intended as motivational advice, lots of people didn't take it that way.

@boywithIover @finneas @adazzlinglover Nepotism evasion at its finest. Somebody came to them 'by accident' - sure, sure

Many argued that Finneas's message only really applied to privileged artists with financial stability or industry connections.

@finneas literally some people have to work to even shoot their shot. we have to have the mentality of being the appropriate amount of annoying to get to where we want. stay humble, man. we didn’t all bloom from privilege.

And plenty of people highlighted that Billie and Finneas's parents both formerly worked as actors and musicians.

@finneas Spoken like someone born to two actors in LA. Here’s my piece of advice: check your privilege. Some of us have full time jobs, and are desperate to escape those conditions. My dad was a mechanic. I can’t even afford his funeral. I have $700 in my bank. So yeah, I’ll shoot my shot

Others pointed out that Finneas's tweet also failed to acknowledge the inherent privilege that being white affords.

@finneas Easy to say when your sister IS Billie & your family supported your career. Not everyone has the luxury & (white) privilege to be so lucky. I've fought to be on HNHH & Shade45. I'm an indie artist with a vision, working to live off my dream. https://t.co/TyLPKk7iuJ

"Seems very blind to the fact that folks often overlook black/brown/LGBT creatives based on inherent bias unless, of course, they are stealing/appropriating," wrote one person.

@finneas @blackprints Seems very blind to the fact that folks often overlook black/brown/lgbt creatives based on inherent bias unless, of course, they are stealing/appropriating. being undeniable isn’t enough for all people. self-advocacy is crucial and doesn’t have to be pestering.

"Self-advocacy is crucial and doesn't have to be pestering," they added.

"Someone much more talented and hard-working than you is still not getting their break cause of their personal conditions that they've been born into and can do nothing about," wrote another.

@finneas Very dissappointed that you'd say this. You really need to check your privilege of 1. Being white 2. Having some sort of industry connections. Amd the first is the greater privilege. Someone much more talented and hard-working than you is still not getting their break cause of+

@finneas their personal conditions that they're born into and can do nothing about.

"Most PoC artists immediately face blockage or gatekeeping," said another Twitter user. "It's not that they don't work enough or their art lacks ... It's the people who refuse to take them seriously."

@finneas I have to disagree with you in this finneas. It worked for you two but it's a rare case. Tons of artists are overlooked due to lack of exposure or luck being discovered by the right people. The world is full of talented people, struggles of some are different from your story.

@finneas For example, most poc artists immediately face blockage and gatekeeping. It's not that they don't work enough or their art lacks (fans would say not), it's the people who refuse to take them seriously.

And it didn't take long before Finneas began responding to some of the messages, denying the accusation that his parents' careers contributed to his and Billie's success.

Valerie Macon / Getty Images

In response to a now-deleted tweet, Finneas said that his parents were never successful enough to financially support their family through acting alone and didn't have connections in the music industry either.

During my life time, our parents were never able to fully financially support us off of their work as actors. Our dad worked 12 hour days 7 days a week as a construction worker for Mattel and our mom was a teacher. Our parents gave us love but knew no one in the record industry https://t.co/DuC2UjymQX

"I paid off their mortgage last year and Billie pays them each salaries to tour with us full time, though they have told us many times they would work for us for free," he went on.

I paid off their mortgage last year and billie pays them each salaries to tour with us full time though they have told us many times they would work for us for free https://t.co/Vwszj2NFV4

Finneas added: "Anyone who saw us tour in 2019 knows our dad insists on sweeping the stage each night before we perform."

Anyone who saw us tour in 2019 knows our dad insists on sweeping the stage each night before we perform

UPDATE

Finneas has now deleted his tweets, explained that they "came from a place of privilege and arrogance", and apologised or "disappointing or offending" fans.

Deleted that tweet because it became clear to me that it came from a place of privilege and arrogance on my part. I’m sorry to anyone I disappointed or offended. I appreciate those who called me out on it, thank you for holding me accountable.

Ellie Woodward is Celebrity and Entertainment Editor for BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.

Contact Ellie Woodward at ellie.woodward@buzzfeed.com.

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