By Stephanie DuBois
Emma Roberts' popular TEENick series, "Unfabulous," is currently airing its second season, but Roberts and troupe have already started shooting the third season set to debut the first quarter of next year.
The 15-year-old daughter of Eric Roberts, and niece of Julia Roberts, plays the much-put-upon aspiring songwriter, Addie Singer, who's just 13 going on 14 in the show. However, Roberts says Addie is beginning to show some maturity.
"I would say she kind of learns from her mistakes a little bit more but still gets herself in awkward situations," says Roberts. "This year she grows up a lot more and learns more about life and relationships and all that type of stuff all of us teenagers are really going through.
"That's definitely something I wanted to happen to her," she adds, "so when I read the scripts I was really happy with the direction they're going."
The actress has a penchant for physical slapstick comedy and pratfalls, something she says has not gone unnoticed by the producers and writers season to season.
"I get surprised when I see what they have next for me," says Roberts. "I think it's funny. I like doing it and whenever I read the script there are a few of those (physical bits) in every episode." Thus far she says the most outrageous thing she had to do was "swim in a bowl of juice. But it was like those huge dump tanks at a carnival. I had to swim around in this water with coloring and this thickening stuff in it. It was really gross."
Roberts happily reports they're bringing back Jake (Raja Fenske), the object of Addie's teen crush in the third season. Fans of the show know Jake and family moved away to Canada, but in the recent special telepic "Unfabulous: The Perfect Moment" Addie tracked down Jake in Chinatown and rekindles the relationship.
And, of course, his return further complicates Addie's life.
"She kind of just realizes having a relationship is really hard," says Roberts. "Having a boyfriend and focusing on your friends and doing school...it's difficult to balance."
The young actress says she hasn't thrown dating into the off-screen mix yet, but she's managed to find a balance between all the factions vying for her attention in real life.
Roberts has been in her mother, Kelly Cunningham's custody since she and Eric Roberts split when Emma was still a baby. And Auntie Julia - who's also been estranged from her brother for years -- has been a major influence from the beginning whetting the youngster's appetite for the craft by taking her to film sets through the years. Certainly Emma's learned a tip or two about juggling film work and real life from her Oscar-winning Aunt, but TV series work is a whole different constantly eating beast.
"It's hard because you want to make time for your friends, but yet you have to work and spend time with your family."
Like most things, she says, it just gets easier with time. "I've been doing it for the past two years so basically I've gotten used to it."
Roberts also has the big-screen "Nancy Drew" due out next year that could become a huge franchise for her if it becomes a hit.
However, "Unfabulous" is the show that put her on the teen idol map and garnered a Teen Choice Award nomination and two Young Artist Award nominations for her last year. So whatever big-screen career beckons, Roberts says she's "Unfabulous" for the long haul. "It's really fun and just something I really like to do."
Meanwhile, Roberts says a whole new avenue has opened up for her with the opportunity to design her own signature Dooney & Bourke handbag featured in a recent issue of Teen Vogue.
"I've always kind of wanted to do fashion design," says Roberts, who's also a spokesmodel for the line of designer bags. "So it was cool to be able to start with handbags. I got to say the kind of shapes and patterns I wanted. It was really fun."
The Emma Roberts' bags "are not out yet, they'll be out closer to Christmas." But she says they're just the tip of the iceberg and she'd like to try her hand at designing a full fashion line.
"I kind of sketch things out and cut out pictures in magazines that I like," says Roberts, adding her ambition is nothing new. "I used to take art lessons all the time when I was little."
All roads lead to this one. All yesterdays lead to now.