Julia Fiona Roberts was born on October 28, 1967 in Atlanta, Georgia to Walter Grady Roberts who was a vacuum cleaner salesman, and Betty Lou Motes, a one-time church secretary and real estate agent. Her parents got divorced in 1971 and six years later when Julia was just 10 years old, her father died of cancer. She has an older brother and sister, Eric Robert and Lisa Roberts Gillan, are also actors.
She attended Fitzhugh Lee Elementary School, Griffin Middle School and Campbell High School and went on to graduating from Georgia State University, with a childhood ambition of being a veterinarian. She however like her sister decided to pursue a career in acting and headed to New York. Once there, she signed with the Click modeling agency and enrolled in acting classes.