Julia Roberts Reveals Martin Luther King Jr. And Coretta Scott King Paid Her Parents' Hospital Bill When She Was Born And Explains Why

Julia Roberts smiling in Notting Hill
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

As Julia Roberts celebrated her 55th birthday yesterday, a video surfaced on Twitter from an event a month ago where the actress opened up about a surprising couple that was involved in her birth. The couple involved was Martin Luther King Jr., that’s right the civil rights leader, and his wife Coretta Scott King. 

The actress was taken aback by the question from Gayle King, remarking that “her research is very good.” She then dove into the story of why the Kings helped her family out during her talk for HistoryTalks. In the video reposted by Zara Rahim, the actress said: 

My parents couldn’t pay for the hospital. My parents had a theater school in Atlanta called the Actors and Writers Workshop, and one day Coretta Scott King called my mother and asked if her kids could be part of the school because they were having a hard time finding a place that would accept their kids. And my mom was like, ‘Sure come on over.’ And they all became friends, and they helped us out of a jam.

Roberts was born in 1967, which was the same year Ronald Reagan became the governor of California, the Vietnam War was ongoing, the 25th Amendment was ratified in the Constitution, MLK gave a speech denouncing the Vietnam war, and race riots were going on around the country. It was a turbulent time in United States history, and the era Roberts was born was pivotal for civil rights.

Journalist and media personality Gayle King, the moderator, noted after Roberts told this story: 

In the ’60s, you didn’t have little Black children interacting with little white kids in acting school. And your parents were like, ‘Come on in.’ That is extraordinary, and it sort of lays the groundwork for who you are.

She makes a good point, Roberts has done some remarkable work, especially for women in the film industry. Some of Roberts’ best movies are about strong and independent women, something that wasn’t an ultra-common thing to see up until the last few decades. 

For example, the Academy Award-winning actress broke the glass ceiling for actresses when she demanded better pay for Erin Brockovich. She’s also gone on to star in movies that were revolutionary when it came to how women were represented in film. One of these films that changed the game was Pretty Woman, Roberts' breakout role, and one of her best rom-coms

On top of her work as an actress, she is also philanthropic and has donated to many charities and has worked with UNICEF. 

It’s so cool to know that this successful actress who so many look up to, including myself, has such an interesting connection to a super important person in U.S. history. As for the present, you can watch Roberts reteam with her pal George Clooney in one of the highest-grossing rom-coms on the 2022 movie schedule Ticket to Paradise, which is currently in theaters. 

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.