Martin Luther King Jr and his wife actually paid for Julia Roberts’ birth back in 1967

In an interview with Gayle King, Julia Roberts revealed that civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr and wife Coretta Scott King were friends with her parents and paid for their hospital bills when Julia was born

Julia Roberts
(Image credit: Laurent KOFFEL / Contributor)

A bit over a week ago, a Twitter user posted a compilation video of Oscar-winning actor Julia Roberts, also writing, "Martin Luther King Jr paying for her birth is still a little known fact that sends me." Retweeted over 11,000 times since then, the post has gone viral. But is it true? Did the civil rights leader pay for Julia’s birth and, if so, why and how?

Julia Robert, who became the first recipient of prestigious Icon Award back in July, did, in fact, address the issue back in September.

On October 28, the day of the actor's 55th birthday, consultant Zara Rahim actually tweeted a video of Julia sharing her peculiar birth story with Gayle King.

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"My parents [Walter and Betty Lou Roberts] had a theater school in Atlanta called the Actors and Writers' Workshop," Julia said to Gayle during the A+E Networks and History Channel's HISTORYTalks live event in Washington, D.C., after noting that the host's "research is very good" and drawing a laugh from the audience. 

"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 pace that would accept her kids and my mom said sure come on over," she recalled. "They all became friends and helped us out of a jam [...] because my parents couldn't pay for the hospital."

Born in Smyrna, Georgia, back in 1967, Julia obviously went on to become an award winning actor, outspoken about the sort of race-related issues that her birth story points to as well and that Gayle referenced during the sit down. 

"In the '60s, you didn't have little Black children interacting with little white kids in acting school," the presenter said. "And Julia's parents were welcoming, and I think that's extraordinary, and it lays the groundwork for who Julia is."

The anecdote clearly resonated with loads of people online, who took to social media to praise the star's parents and the values they instilled in Julia herself. 

George Clooney and Julia Roberts

(Image credit: Gisela Schober / Contributor)

"Wonderful, uplifting note how inclusive Julia Roberts parents were. Julia was imbued with this loving, uplifting and inclusive environment," one user commenter. "This provides insight into the genuine, private, persona that always delights us on the big screen."

"This is incredible! I've never heard this story,” another noted.

"Incredible facts that are so impressive but still need to be brought to the limelight today in lieu of all the disgraceful racial, ethnic, religious and gender wrong acts going on in the 21st century," someone else wrote.

Zara followed her own viral tweet with a link to a 2013 story published on Arts Atl (opens in new tab) about the time the Ku Klux Klan blew up a car outside one of Julia's parents' plays because her father cast MLK's daughter Yolanda King as a lead in a play where she was to kiss a white actor.

The Gaslit star, now seen in rom-com Ticket to Paradise with real-life pal George Clooney, has gone on the record about issues relating to race a variety of times throughout her illustrious career. 

Most famously, back in 1990, she called a small town in South Carolina "horribly racist" in an interview with Rolling Stone, explaining that a Black friend of hers was denied service at a local bar. 

Anna Rahmanan is a New York-based writer and editor who covers culture, entertainment, food, fashion and travel news. Anna’s words have appeared on Time Out New York, the Huffington Post, Fortune, Forbes, Us Weekly, Bon Appetit and Brooklyn Magazine, among other outlets.