Today we did some hand-wring about the problem of nepotism. But maybe nepotism is the wrong word? Really, we were talking about access to opportunity. One commenter laid the problem out for us nicely.
If you're the smartest kid in your high school class in Winesburg, Ohio, and you want to be, say, a screenwriter, what do you do? Your teachers can teach you basic writing skills, but they probably don't really know much about screenplays. Your parents can't help. You can find a few resources on the Internet, but most aren't very useful. If you're really lucky, you may be one of the few kids at your school that have a chance of attending a top-level university. Then you could move to New York or L.A., where you don't know anyone and you're competing against 30,000 other newcomers for a foot in the door. You may end up succeeding or you may not, but you're really starting from scratch.
Now say one of your parents is already a successful writer. You hang out with other successful writers and actors and creative people, and go to school with their kids. You watch that parent work, attend screenings, maybe even get to hang out on movie sets. After you watch DVDs at home, you discuss the characters and story structure. If you do well in your private school, you have a much better chance of getting into an Ivy League college or some place with a great writing program, where you make more contacts. You get coveted summer jobs and internships where you attain even more insider knowledge. When you start writing spec scripts, you already know agents and producers.
You can claim you don't want any help from your parents, but you're already a hundred steps farther up the ladder than that first guy. You're also a hundred times more "talented," in the sense that you know what you're doing and you've already spent half your life doing it. So you can say you're making it all on your own, and didn't really have a leg up — but that kid from Ohio would beg to differ.