A Star Is Born

16-year-old Annabelle Roberts has been battling a disease causing her to lose her eyesight. Thanks to Make-A-Wish Hawaii, her dream to be a famous actress and experience star treatment on the red carpet came true at the Eurocinema Hawaii gala

Most people shy away from the spotlight, not knowing how to handle flashing cameras and screaming fans. But for 16-year-old Annabelle Roberts, it all comes naturally.


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Make-A-Wish Hawaii teen Annabelle Roberts accepts her ‘Hawaii’s Starlet Award’ from EuroCinema Hawaii president Jefferson Finney. Roberts arrived on the red carpet with her family. Photo by Lawrence Tabudlo

The Hawaii island teenager showed poise and grace while walking the red carpet at Moana Surfrider for EuroCinema Hawaii’s Film Festival Gala Nov. 8.

Roberts is no stranger to the film industry, as she played pageant contestant Carly in Little Miss Sunshine (2006).

Her dream always has been to be a successful actress, and Make-A-Wish Hawaii, in partnership with EuroCinema Hawaii, made her wish come true.

Roberts was diagnosed with pars planitis in December 2012, which is slowly causing her to lose her eyesight.

“She had told me that she was having a hard time seeing, and I was thinking vision,” admits mom Melissa Roberts. “But she was saying there was something in front of her vision.”

A quick trip to the eye doctor showed a great amount of debris in the back of her eyes.

During that time, tests also showed abnormalities in her spinal fluid, which has caused high levels of inflammation.

“The hardest part is the immune suppressants,” says Melissa. “When she gets sick, it’s always a concern.”

Despite all she has gone through, Roberts always seems to have a smile on her face.

There’s no doubt this spectacular teenager is wise beyond her years. “You don’t have any choice except to be positive,” she says. “If you’re negative, then you won’t be happy. You have to focus on the positive and be happy.”

Humble Roberts, who goes to school via online classes, received news of her trip to Oahu and admits she was a little shocked.

“I had heard about the gala earlier, but I didn’t think I was going to get to go,” she says.

Little did she know that more surprises were in store.

Ari South designed her extraordinary white gala gown that sparkled and shone just like Roberts’ personality.

“I had asked for a light color (dress),” Annabelle explains. “Because Ari’s (own) dress was white, she wanted to make us a little family connected by our dresses that were both white.”

A VIP dinner at Hard Rock Cafe awaited her and her family, including Melissa and Todd and Logan Gregory.

The experience was one Roberts always will remember.

“I had never been to a Hard Rock before, and I play the guitar, too,” she says. “There were so many guitars on the walls and ceilings.”

Her love for the instrument started last Christmas, when she received a guitar as a gift. Since then, she’s been teaching herself to play.

Surprises filled Roberts’ weekend, but the hair and makeup (thanks to Salon 808) session before the gala was a familiar experience.

“I used to do beauty pageants when I was little,” she explains. “But (this time) it was really cool because they took a lot of pictures and we did a photo shoot after (with Kevin Lubera). We got the prettiest pictures.”

Styled with a gorgeous updo and custom-made dress, Roberts topped off her ensemble with Jimmy Choo pointed-toe pumps and personally loaned jewelry from an individual donor.

As soon as she stepped onto the lush red carpet fronting Moana Surfrider, she got to experience the full effects of being a famous actress.

“Walking onto the red carpet was crazy,” she recalls. “I wasn’t expecting it right when I arrived. I thought once inside it would start. But everyone was taking pictures, and they announced that I was arriving.”

An honorary award (Hawaii’s Starlet Award) was bestowed upon her for her bravery throughout her medical battles.

“It was heavy,” she says of the award. “It was funny because (EuroCinema Hawaii president) Jefferson Finney handed me the award all slow because we had to stop for pictures.

“They had to take it (the award) away to have it engraved from Tiffany’s. It’s coming in the mail, and I hope it’s in one of those little blue boxes.”

She also accompanied Australian actor Brenton Thwaites on stage to accept his 2014 Prince and Princess Kawananakoa Rising Star Award.

The final surprise for Roberts and her family was a Mediterranean cruise, which Melissa says the family will take next year.

Roberts has expressed her eternal gratitude to Make-A-Wish Hawaii and EuroCinema Hawaii for all they’ve done to make her dreams come true.

“On the plane ride home I cried,” she admits. “I was surprised that anyone would ever be so nice to me. The whole community of people came together. I was loved by so many people.”