"It's okay to be loud and different..."
Meet Emma Elle Roberts. An actress, model, and native of Atlanta, Georgia, Emma has appeared in print ads and magazines including shoots for Smuckers, Vogue Italia, Jute, and Borealis. Recently, she wrapped two leading roles in the feature films Gracia and I’m Not Ashamed, having previously landed parts in Insurgent and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay. While Emma may appear to have success on her side, she attests it is God who has given her favor, honoring her persistence and abilities every step of the way.
You just wrapped up a week as a guest star and panelist at SHINE. What did you enjoy most about this experience?
I think my favorite part was actually getting to see and hear the stories of people who are just starting their journey with AMTC. It was really encouraging to go back and hear where everyone’s coming from and what their goals are moving forward.
You recently ended production on the film I’m Not Ashamed in which you play the character Celine, a high school student who lived through the infamous Columbine tragedy. What was it like portraying her?
In the film she is Rachel Joy Scott’s best friend, but she’s not a real life person; she’s a composite character. The entire film is directly from the writings of Rachel Joy Scott and her journal. So I am a mixture of different people that she came into contact with, as well as many of characters. She has some confrontations with my character, but after talking to Rachel’s family, they gave a great confirmation that Rachel would have loved me after watching my character in the film, just as much as being her best friend. So I am very much based off of someone that Rachel would have been loving towards and involved with.
Living through that story and meeting Rachel Joy Scott and her family, was it hard for you to get your head in that space?
Yeah! I think that being an actor can really be more emotional than people realize. I play a character that has poor self-esteem; self harms, and makes poor choices with boys. As someone who is just now coming out of being a teenager and growing up and finding myself, it’s really hard to even look at the story of Rachel Joy Scott and the massacre of Columbine, and realize that this was a real situation. It’s something that everyone can relate to, and I think that rawness is such a beautiful thing in acting. Even going back and seeing clips from the filmmaking process, it is definitely an open wound on my heart because I’ve become attached to Rachel, her family and her story.
You also co-star in the upcoming motion picture Gracia along with Ben Davies (lead actor from the Kendrick Brother’s film Courageous). What can you tell us about this project?
Gracia is the story of a very innocent beautiful girl. It’s an intertwining of a stories, but it portrays real life situations in high school, what it’s like to stand up for your faith, and what you believe in. Whether it’s your faith or your choices, I think that (the film) shows the struggle of growing up, and that’s really cool. That was a fun project to be a part of. And working with Ben… I’ve known his since SHINE; it was our first real project together and it’s great to see how far we’ve come.
What are some of your main interests, besides acting?
I lead worship for my church, so I really enjoy music. I’m currently trying to learn the piano, but I also play the ukulele and sing. I love hiking and being in the outdoors, and I’ve been really enjoying spending time with my family lately. As a kid, I feel like you take for granted the advantage of living with your family, and then you’re all grow up and you work all the time… now it’s nice to go home and visit them.
You graduated SHINE as a teenager. Since then, you have been working steadily in the industry. How did AMTC help jump-start your career?
I always tell everyone AMTC is the greatest launching pad you can have. I remember it’s the first time that I had ever felt like I had found my niche in life. It brought about confidence in being able to pursue something that I loved. And I think that it opened doors in so many ways, showing me that it’s okay to be loud and different, because you have to have different types of people in the world. I got callbacks from agents and managers when I went through, and most of those people I still know to this day and are very supportive of my career. It’s a great community of strong believers who want to support each other.
What advice would you give to young people who are just getting started in the industry?
I would say not only to be persistent, but also to find your boundaries in what you’re comfortable playing and the roles you’re not comfortable playing. I’m not good at horror films or scary thrillers, only because it’s hard to take myself there. So I would say know your boundaries, know what you want to do in the industry, and go after it full on. But don’t feel like you have to compromise to be successful. I think that it’s important to know that you are enough, and no matter what, you are the only you in this industry. No matter how many people there are like you, they are not you. Be persistent, because God honors your faith and your trust in Him and the promises He’s made to you.
As a believer, and someone who has a relationship with Christ, how has the Lord directed your steps in your career?
Good question. God has protected me in a lot of ways. I think that He’s protected my heart. Being in this industry, you have to be very careful of who you associate yourself with and how you project yourself. And I think that He has given me strength in my relationships, friendships and connections. He’s given me such a peace… that’s one thing that you should pray for, especially in this industry. I’ve always prayed that God would open the doors that He would have me walk through and close the doors that I shouldn’t go through, and He’s definitely done that and I’ve had peace about it. When you are trying to pursue something that has so much darkness around it, you need to make sure God’s in it every step of the way. And of course He’s in everything and is the reason why you’re able to do anything period. But I know for a fact that if this is not my calling, then God will take away my desire for it.
You also work as a model and have booked many notable gigs including a campaign with Vogue Italia. How fun was that?
Oh my gosh it was so fun! I loved it. Working with Vogue was so awesome- I shot with a local photographer in Atlanta named Max Eremine, and he basically had this particular concept idea for a long time. We ended up submitting it and they chose it, so it was awesome. It was so fast and one of my favorite shoots that I’ve ever done. Modeling just kind of found me when I cut off my hair. I’ve also been blessed to do so many things with Smuckers and Van Michael Salon.