CBS announced that it had cast Sophia, 19, in an episode of the second season of “The Twilight Zone,” its reboot of the classic series hosted by Jordan Peele. Sophia, many people remember, was involuntarily connected to the scandal after her TV actress mother was charged with paying a $15,000 bribe to have her SAT score illegally boosted.
Just four months ago, Sophia’s actor father, William H. Macy, described in a letter to the court that his aspiring actress daughter had been “devastated” by the events surrounding her mother’s arrest, prosecution and 11-day imprisonment. The high school graduate was so devastated that she temporarily gave up on the idea of going to college so that she could take a gap year and “regain her equilibrium.”
So, this reversal of fortune for Sophia is pretty stunning. Just out of high school, and without going to college, she’s already getting a head start on a lucrative, fulfilling career.
Such fortune may be par for the course for a child of a rich and famous criminal defendant, even for one who pleaded guilty and apologized. To many people who believed that Huffman got off easy with her 11-day prison stay, Sophia’s new TV gig offers yet another sign that justice isn’t dispensed equally to the rich and poor in this country.
Many people on social media reacted to Sophia’s casting news with predictable snark, as well as anger at what they see as another example of a “rigged” system and of a famous criminal — and her family — suffering few, if any, consequences of her actions.
“Rich people failing up,” tweeted one person. “Must be nice to suffer zero consequences,” tweeted another.
“The law is only for us peasants. It’s almost like being born into a rich white family is a talent in America. Sad,” tweeted another.
It’s not typical for the children of criminal defendants, who don’t have Huffman’s and Macy’s resources, to fare so well after their parents’ arrest and incarceration.
These children are called the “hidden victims” of the criminal justice system, according to a National Justice of Institute report. They number up to 2.3 million nationally — children who have had a parent in jail or prison at some point in their young lives.
Like Sophia, they are innocent of their parents’ crimes. But many face long-term documented risks of increased anxiety, depression and antisocial behavior. They also are more likely to get kicked out of school, have low educational attainment, suffer economic hardship, lack stable housing and get involved in crime themselves.
It could be said that Sophia has a few things in common with the children of less-affluent defendants.
For example, she was asleep when law enforcement, “with guns drawn,” came into her family’s home early in the morning to arrest one of her parents.
In Macy’s letter to the court, he wrote that his daughter still suffers “nightmares” and hasn’t been comfortable sleeping alone at night since that morning in March when armed FBI agents came for her mother.
Things got worse for Sophia, according to Macy. Even though she didn’t know about her mother’s bribery scheme with William “Rick” Singer, she had to deal with regularly being mentions in stories about the case.
As Huffman described in her letter to the court, Sophia felt especially humiliated and betrayed when the indictment showed that she didn’t think her daughter’s honest effort was good enough.
“Why didn’t you believe in me?” Huffman wrote that her daughter asked her in a letter she submitted to the court. “Why didn’t you think I could do it on my own?”
But things got even worse for Sophia, according to Macy’s letter. Two days after her mother’s arrest, she traveled across the country to audition for an elite theater program at the college of her dreams, Macy recalled. But she learned at the airport that her invitation to audition had been rescinded, because of the scandal.
Sophia “called us from the airport in hysterics,” Macy wrote, adding: “From the devastation of that day, Sophia is slowly regaining her equilibrium and getting on with her life.”
It now looks like her gap year included pursuing this “Twilight Zone” role. But, not surprisingly, people on social media were wondering if the industry connections of Sophia’s parents helped her get a high-profile professional job. Nepotism is a common Hollywood practice, however much stars insist that their children win their breaks entirely on their own merit.
“Look I understand how the world works, nepotism is how most (people) get their start, (especially) in the world of celebrity but let’s not pretend Sophia Macy is ‘Succeeding Despite Parent’s Best Efforts” she’s succeeding *because* they are her parents, jail time and all,” tweeted another.
Sophia’s fame — or notoriety, as a result of the scandal — also could have brought her to the attention of the show’s producers. Maybe someone felt sorry for her and wanted to give her a break.
Again, Sophia herself didn’t do anything wrong. But now her happy news about her TV gig is overshadowed by questions about a lack of fairness in society and about her own qualifications. It’s a lot for a 19-year-old to shoulder.
“My reaction as an American mother of two sons, busting her ass so they could attend and graduate? I bribed nobody, didn’t pick up a phone to call in a favor. Sophia… try, just try doing something on your own,” tweeted a mother.
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