Nepo Baby of the Week: Emma Roberts’ Reign of Terror

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters

I wasn’t sure a celebrity could have a worse week than Drew Barrymore did after three separate announcements—two of them, apologies—regarding the now-delayed return of her talk show during the WGA strike. Then walks in our Nepo Baby of The Week, Emma Roberts, who was called out for being transphobic and an overall mean girl by one of her former co-stars this week. This PR catastrophe occurred the same day as the premiere of her latest acting gig, which has also caught heat for strike-related reasons. Can these spoiled, Hollywood-bred girls do anything right?? (The answer is obviously no.)

On Wednesday, television mogul Ryan Murphy unleashed his latest cursed project onto the world, American Horror Story: Delicate, in which Roberts plays an actress trying to conceive through IVF. Its arrival, however, has been anything but delicate. That’s not to mention that some of the next-morning reviews were pretty harsh.

First, there’s the alleged scabbiness of it all, as Murphy and FX kept the show in production after the Writers Guild of America announced a walkout amid their ongoing fight for better wages and working conditions. (While the scripts that were shooting were apparently already completed, as several WGA members noted, writers are utilized throughout TV shoots, and therefore picketed outside the studio.) It’s safe to say that no one was really checking for Roberts in this regard, as her billionaire co-star, Kim Kardashian, was catching most of the heat on social media. Yet the former Nickelodeon star managed to find herself in the center of even a more explosive controversy after Pose actress Angelica Ross aired out some of her experiences on Murphy’s sets.

Ross, who also starred in American Horror Story: 1984 with Roberts, claimed on Twitter that Murphy ghosted the transgender actress after approaching her about an AHS season starring Black women. The biggest bombshell, though, was that Roberts misgendered her on the AHS set and apparently played “mind games” with the rest of the cast and crew. In an Instagram Live, Ross recalled her and Roberts joking around between a take when a crew member supposedly told them, “Get back to work, ladies.” According to Ross, Roberts mischievously responded, “Don’t you mean lady?”

You’ll Never Believe Kim Kardashian’s Vulgar First Line on ‘American Horror Story’

Once the clip made the rounds on Twitter and in the press, Roberts called up Ross to apologize, but not before Twitter spent a full day digging up receipts on the actress’ supposed terribleness.

It turns out Roberts was one of those celebrities that people had a gut feeling is a bad person but didn’t really care enough about to constantly bring up their past offenses, like a Kardashian or a Chris Brown. The Unfabulous star has spurred a few good memes in recent years. Before then, she earned praises for roles as snotty, mean girls (maybe not a coincidence) in AHS: Coven and Fox’s Scream Queens. Still, I don’t think anyone’s ever been that curious about whether Julia Roberts’ niece and Eric Roberts’ daughter, has a decent moral character. Well, not until this week.

For instance, just a few weeks ago, a video went viral of Roberts exiting a Hamptons bookstore where former President Bill Clinton was also shopping, in which she tells a Black Secret Service Agent to “get out of the way.” Initially, it seemed like the internet found the randomness of the video amusing. But now, it’s been used as evidence that Roberts is, at best, rude, and, at worst, racist.

Twitter users also resurfaced a past domestic dispute between Roberts and her ex-boyfriend and AHS: Coven co-star, Evan Peters—who may also be trash—after Ross claimed she joked about the incident on-set. In 2013, Roberts was arrested after the couple got into a fight that left Peters with a bite mark and a bloody nose. Roberts was apparently arrested because she didn’t have any visible injuries. However, she was captured by paparazzi with bruises on her legs a few days later. (Peters didn’t press charges, and the couple released a joint statement.)

If this incident happened in 2023, I personally think (some of) the internet would withhold from automatically deeming Roberts the main assailant. But this news item was obviously convenient for people trying to paint a larger portrait of Roberts being problematic over the week.

A more comical trip down memory lane is her time on Scream Queens, which was good for maybe three episodes before it completely flew off the rails in typical Ryan-Murphy fashion. It also featured a staggering number of talented actors, such as Keke Palmer, Jamie Lee Curtis, and a baby Glen Powell, who were seemingly in some sort of career crisis (but who have all bounced back, thank God!) Anyway, since Roberts’ recent call-out, fans have hilariously speculated that the two-season shoot was a literal nightmare, as notable on-set tyrant Lea Michele and alleged diva Ariana Grande also starred in the series. An awkward promo clip with Roberts and a shockingly tan Grande, who looks like she’d rather be anywhere else, has gone viral. (We’ll stand by for Abigail Breslin’s comments.)

I’ve also enjoyed the way Julia Roberts—who’s more often than not minding her business—has been invoked in this scandal. A number of people seemingly didn’t know that Emma was related to the Erin Brockovich actress before this incident, which I can’t tell is a good or bad thing. (I’d personally want everyone to immediately think of the star of Pretty Woman when they think of me.) Now, everyone is bringing up the fact that Julia is also reportedly a piece of work. But at least, she’s given us classics!

How Ryan Murphy Screwed Over ‘Pose’ Star Angelica Ross

But back to Emma Roberts. As someone who owns her Aquamarine and Nancy Drew on DVD, I can’t say this week’s bombshell exactly has totally rocked my world. Although, I genuinely feel bad that Ross had such terrible experiences on productions that only seemed to boost Ryan Murphy’s profile. In regards to Roberts, a B-list actress with a very illustrious last name, she’ll probably bounce back from her first real online “cancellation” pretty easily—as if anyone is checking her IMDB to see what projects she has coming up. (Sorry, but it’s true!) Whether or not, it’ll be a good look for Murphy to keep hiring her after all of this, after Ross claimed she’s basically been discarded by him, is another story.

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