Emma Roberts is an overachiever as an actress, but an under-performer as a famous personality. And she wants to keep it that way.
"I've recently started this thing where I go quietly with the flow, so (I hope) that works out for me," says the 20-year-old from L.A.
Maybe she's navigating under the radar, because she has witnessed the aftermath of fame's bright glare, suffered by her infamous actor-father, Eric Roberts, and her movie-star aunt, Julia Roberts.
Whatever the reason, the next-generation Roberts has managed to avoid the trap of portraying either a girlfriend in a special-effects blockbuster or a sexy lass in a big-budget R-rated romp.
Indeed, she is stubbornly focused on pleasing herself, not on enticements offered by the persuasive film industry.
Case in point is The Art of Getting By, which just opened after a preview at last winter's Sundance Film Festival, under the title Homework.
In the low-key teen comedy, Roberts plays a seemingly happy Sally, who is, deep down, a disenfranchised student in New York. She befriends schoolmate George (Freddie Highmore, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), a sullen, apathetic procrastinator with more talent than desire.
They bond, and slowly discover there might be more to their futures than they thought.
"It's a subtle love story, and that was appealing to me," says Roberts.
As an added bonus, she connected with Highmore, and with first-time movie director Gavin Wiesen, who also wrote the screenplay.
"I definitely could not have done this without Freddie," says the actress, who was impressed with the London-born Highmore's mastery of an American dialect. "The only challenges, really, were the logistics of shooting all over New York for a month."
Rounding out the cast are some seasoned actors. Blair Underwood shows up as a concerned principal. Former teen star Alicia Silverstone plays a teacher. Sam Robards is George's stepfather.
"We all got along very well," says Roberts. "Everybody seemed to click."