Emma is also a pop singer; her debut album, Unfabulous and More: Emma Roberts, was released in 2005.
Emma was born in Rhinebeck, New York to actor Eric Roberts and his then
girlfriend Kelly Cunningham. Emma Roberts's parents broke up shortly after her
birth amid accusations of domestic violence, which eventually reached court.
When Cunningham left the family home in September 1991 along with her daughter,
Eric's sister Julia Roberts bought a house for the pair to live in. She also
sided with Cunningham in her successful custody battle over Emma, resulting in a
rift between her and her brother for the years to come. Roberts' saw very little
of her father following the custody decision, although her mother and Julia
Roberts remained close.
Emma's half sister, Grace Nickels the daughter of her mother and former L.A. Guns bassist Kelly Nickels was born in early 2001. In a 2005 interview, Roberts stated that she is "definitely closer to mum and stepdad and she doesn't see her real father much."
Following the marriage of Eric Roberts to actress Eliza Simons (née Eliza Garrett) in 1992, Emma also has a stepbrother, Keaton Simons, and a stepsister, Morgan Simons (both children from Eliza Simons' first marriage with James Simons).
During her childhood, Emma spent a lot of time on the sets of the films that her aunt was starring in. These experiences sparked a desire in Roberts, from the age of five, to follow her father and aunt into the film industry. Although her mother initially opposed, wanting her daughter to have a normal childhood, Roberts made her acting debut in Ted Demme's 2001 drama Blow the first movie she ever auditioned for at the age of nine. In the film she portrayed Kristina Jung, the daughter of Johnny Depp's character, cocaine smuggler George Jung. As the film is rated R, her mother reportedly would not allow Emma to see it before she turns eighteen. However, director Ted Demme produced a tape for her that featured only the scenes she appeared in.
In 2001, Roberts also had a role in Leif Tilden's 10-minute short bigLove (which also starred her future step-father, Kelly Nickels), and was an uncredited extra in one of Julia Roberts' scenes in America's Sweethearts. Emma Roberts went on to appear in smaller roles in two family films: in 2002's Grand Champion, as the sister of the main character Buddy (Jacob Fisher); and in 2003's Spymate, as the kidnapped daughter of former secret agent Mike Muggins (Chris Potter), who tries to rescue her with the help of a spy monkey. Grand Champion had a brief theatrical release in August 2004, while Spymate was not released until February 2006, when it was given a theatrical run in Canada, followed by its DVD release in April 2006. In August 2003, Roberts was scheduled to shoot an independent film called Daisy Winters, starring as the title character, alongside Rachel Weisz. However, the film, which would have been Roberts' first leading role, never began shooting due to financial problems.
Emma became a teen idol at the age of thirteen, starring as the lead character Addie Singer in the Nickelodeon series Unfabulous, which debuted in September 2004. While Nickelodeon had wanted to cast her for the role from the beginning, series creator Sue Rose was not convinced of her acting ability until she saw Roberts auditioning for the role, singing a song and playing along on the guitar. The teen sitcom earned Roberts a Teen Choice Award nomination and several Young Artist Award nominations. The series became one of the network's most-watched programs and was quickly recommissioned for a second season.
As Emma Roberts' character on Unfabulous writes songs and plays guitar, Nickelodeon soon considered a career in music for Roberts as well, following the lead of other actress/pop singers such as Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan. Emma first contributed the song "If I Had It My Way" to the soundtrack of Disney's 2005 film Ice Princess. This was followed by her debut album, Unfabulous and More: Emma Roberts, which was released on September 27, 2005 and is featured as the soundtrack to Unfabulous. The album was rather unsuccessful: it peaked at #46 on the Billboard's Top Heatseekers, and the two music videos released simultaneous to promote the album, "I Wanna Be" and "Dummy", received only little airplay. Shortly after her CD was released, it was recalled by Sony due to embedded XCP software. Sony later reissued the CD without XCP.
In 2006, Roberts returned to the big screen, starring alongside Sara Paxton and singer JoJo in Aquamarine. The film about two teenagers (played by Roberts and JoJo) who find a mermaid (Paxton) in their swimming pool, earned Roberts a 2007 Young Artist Award for Best Supporting Young Actress in a Feature Film. Roberts also contributed a cover version of Weezer's 2001 single "Island in the Sun" to the film's soundtrack. Following Aquamarine, she was scheduled to star in Camp Couture (produced by her mother, Kelly Cunningham) and Bras and Broomsticks (based on the book of the same name by Sarah Mlynowski), but neither film went into full production.
On May 15, 2006 Emma was featured on MTV's Punk'd with pop singer Teddy Geiger. In 2006, Roberts also became a spokesmodel for Dooney & Bourke, and designed her own Dooney & Bourke handbag, named after her.
In early 2006 Emma finished shooting Nancy Drew, in which she stars in the title role of teen detective Nancy Drew, and which is set to be released June 15, 2007. Emma Roberts also signed on to star in Rodeo Gal and is considered for the part of Julia Roberts' daughter in Friday Night Knitting Club.
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