LOS ANGELES — Emma Roberts is busy tossing clothes out of the makeshift dressing room in the Nickelodeon wardrobe department. First comes a pair of tie-dyed Da-Nang cargoes. Then a C&C T-shirt. Then a pair of pink fuzzy earrings. She’s just finished taping the sixth episode of her sitcom, “Unfabulous,” which premiered on Sunday, but she’s in a conundrum about what to wear off the set. At least the 13-year-old actress already knows what she doesn’t like.

“Won’t you just try the Von Dutch tank top?” her mother, Kelly Cunningham, pleads.

“But it doesn’t go with this skirt!” insists the fledgling star.

She finally settles on a ruffled tube top and jeans by Abercrombie & Fitch, though she frets that, since she’s worn the top to a premiere already, she’ll end up on the fashion victim pages of the tabloids, which she reads religiously, along with all the fashion magazines.

Roberts seems poised to become the Sarah Jessica Parker of the tween world, a comparison which makes her burst into a wide grin, not unlike the one that belongs to her aunt, Julia Roberts. (Her father, Eric Roberts, who is now married to Eliza Roberts, is estranged from Julia. Cunningham is his ex-girlfriend). Even for a wisp of a girl, she has presence; director Ted Demme cast her in “Blow” in 2001 as Johnny Depp’s young daughter, and her latest movie, “Grand Champion,” about a girl who raises a prize-winning cow, opens this week, with cameos by Bruce Willis and Aunt Julia. While she says that acting is in her blood, she also dreams of a design career, which brings her back to the wardrobe closet — a teenage girl’s dream, full of candy-colored Birkenstocks, screen-printed T-shirts, barrettes, belts and bracelets.

Though Addie Singer, Roberts’ character in “Grand Champion,” is a clotheshorse, she still suffers indignities at the hands of the seventh grade popular clique. “Because they are the popular girls, they get to wear cute, preppy stuff, but Addie is way cuter,” she says. Like any seasoned actor, Roberts draws on her own experience in her work; she did, after all, finish seventh grade last year.

This story first appeared in the September 13, 2004 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Though she still has tutors and homework to worry about, and she’s only allowed to wear makeup to premieres, Roberts’ life does have a touch of the fabulous. Her favorite place to eat is the Chateau Marmont, and her shop of choice is the Malibu boutique Planet Blue, also a favorite of Kate Hudson’s. She’s partial to the high-tech Arclight movie theater, where seats are reserved in advance and a concierge introduces each movie.

But in spite of her starlet tendencies, this teenager still has to pick her wardrobe up off of the bedroom floor.

“My mom always says, ‘If you don’t clean up your clothes, I’m going to throw them away!’”

— Marcy Medina

EMMA’S OTHER TWEEN FAVORITES
DESIGNERS: Marc by Marc Jacobs, Petro Zillia. MUSIC: Michelle Branch, Usher, JoJo.
COLOR: Pink. FASHION ROLE MODELS: Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Bosworth.
JEWELRY: Dangly earrings from Claire’s and Planet Blue. FAVORITE ACTRESS: Reese Witherspoon.
SHOES: Uggs. FOODS: Pasta, chicken, rice.
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