During her childhood, Roberts spent a lot of time on the sets of the films that her aunt was starring in. These experiences sparked a desire in Roberts, from the age of five, to follow her father and aunt into the film industry. Although her mother initially opposed, wanting her daughter to have a normal childhood, Roberts made her acting debut in Ted Demme's 2001 drama Blow the first movie she ever auditioned for at the age of nine. In the film she portrayed Kristina Jung, the daughter of Johnny Depp's character, cocaine smuggler George Jung. As the film is rated R, her mother reportedly will not allow Roberts to see it before she turns eighteen. However, director Ted Demme produced a tape for her that featured only the scenes she appeared in.
In 2001, Roberts also had a role in Leif Tilden's 10-minute short bigLove (which also starred her future step-father, Kelly Nickels), and was an uncredited extra in one of Julia Roberts' scenes in America's Sweethearts. She went on to appear in smaller roles in two family films: in 2002's Grand Champion, as the sister of the main character Buddy (Jacob Fisher); and in 2003's Spymate, as the kidnapped daughter of former secret agent Mike Muggins (Chris Potter), who tries to rescue her with the help of a spy monkey. Grand Champion had a brief theatrical release in August 2004, while Spymate was not released until February 2006, when it was given a theatrical run in Canada, followed by its DVD release in April 2006. In August 2003, Roberts was scheduled to shoot an independent film called Daisy Winters, starring as the title character, alongside Rachel Weisz. However, the film, which would have been Roberts' first leading role, never began shooting due to financial problems.