Julia Roberts, known for films such as “Steel Magnolias,” “Pretty Woman,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” and “Sleeping With The Enemy,” was one of the few bankable female stars of the 1990s and 2000s.
She grew up in a creative family and learned the fundamentals of acting from her parents, both of whom were well-known actors and playwrights. Betty and Walter Roberts, her parents, founded the Atlanta Actors and Writers Workshop in Georgia. They also had a children’s acting school before having Roberts.
Despite widespread racism in the United States in the 1960s, their children’s acting school accepted both Black and white students. As a result, the Roberts family would meet another well-known family: the Kings. Yolanda King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, joined the children’s acting school, and Walter Roberts became her personal acting coach, teaching her everything she needed to know to succeed in the acting field.
Then the unpleasant incident occurred during the premiere of a play in 1965. According to history, school actors were chosen to play the roles of a couple. When Yolanda was cast as the romantic interest of another white actor, complications arose. People would not have it. During the performance, a man went so far as to blow up a car outside the theater. The same man entered the theatre and began throwing objects at the actors onstage, endangering their lives.
To thank Walter Roberts for protecting his daughter Yolanda during the commotion, King and his wife paid the Roberts family’s hospital bills when their daughter Julia Roberts was born on October 28, 1967.
Julia Roberts will never forget this kind gesture. During an interview, she told Gayle King that “the King family paid for my hospital bills.” Coretta Scott King and Martin Luther King Jr. Obviously, because my parents were unable to pay the hospital bill.”
“My parents had a theater school in Atlanta called the Actors and Writers Workshop,” she continued. And one day, Coretta Scott King called my mother and asked if her children could attend the school because they were having difficulty finding a place for them. And my mother says, ‘Sure, come on over.’ So they all became friends and helped us out of a bind.”
The King family’s act of kindness inspired Julia Roberts to use her wealth to help the needy, including children. She is well-known for her charitable contributions to organizations such as UNICEF, the Red Cross, and the American Foundation for AIDS Research. In 1998, she co-narrated the documentary In the Wild: Orangutans with Julia Roberts, which aired on American television to raise awareness for endangered wildlife species.