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What The Actor Who Played Bethany Hamilton In Soul Surfer Has Been Up To

In 2003, the world recoiled in horror at the story of then 13-year-old surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm during a freak shark attack in the waters off the coast of Hawaii. Hamilton turned her tragedy into triumph with a memoir, Soul Surfer, that focused on her recovery and return to surfing. The book was adapted into a 2011 film of the same name that would prove moderately successful at the box office. Now, almost a decade later, the movie has a new life on Netflix, to the library of which it was added in May. The film found itself in the streaming service's top 10 most-watched movies, and has sparked a renewed interest in Hamilton's story. 

In the film, Hamilton is played by AnnaSophia Robb, who had previously starred in Bridge to Terabithia and Tim Burton's remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. If you were one of the many who revisited the film when it dropped on Netflix and are wondering what roles Robb took on after bringing Hamilton to the big screen, we've got you covered with some of the actress' most remarkable post-Soul Surfer parts.

AnnaSophia Robb stepped into Carrie Bradshaw's Manolo Blahniks on The Carrie Diaries

One of Robb's first roles after Soul Surfer was also arguably her biggest. The actress was cast as the teenage version of Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw in the prequel series The Carrie Diaries. The CW show was based on a series of novels written by Candace Bushnell, whose essay collection Sex and the City was the inspiration for the iconic HBO show. In the series, we follow teenage Carrie as she navigates the loss of her mother, early love affairs, and her first experiences of connecting with New York City.

Despite the intriguing premise, the show failed to catch on with critics or viewers. It received mixed-to-positive reviews, with the critical consensus being that it felt too much like a generic CW teen drama to appropriately carry the mantle of the series that spawned it. Many critics, however, found Robb's performance to be a highlight of the show.

In a review for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gail Pennington called Robb "a wonderful Carrie." David Wiegand of SF Gate offered more pointed praise for the young actress' performance, saying, "Robb is not only winning in the lead role, but convincing that her character will blossom into Sarah Jessica Parker in the very near future."

AnnaSophia Robb spied for the bad guys on Mercy Street

Robb spent much of her early career playing young women navigating pivotal points in their lives. That was very much the case when she joined the ensemble Civil War drama Mercy Street. She played Alice Green, the teenage daughter of Confederate loyalists living in Alexandria, Virginia. While Alice's sister, Emma (Hannah James), gains a deeper level of empathy after working at Mansion House Hospital, Alice becomes more enmeshed in the Confederate cause. In the show's second season, she even begins spying for the Confederacy.

Speaking to PBS about her role on the show, Robb expanded on Alice's misguided attempts to find her calling, saying, "It's a world where she's very excited and very passionate, and driven to be part of something bigger than herself, and to make a difference. Women at this time did not have a lot of agency, and even though it may not be for good reasons, Alice sees herself as helping."

The role was a malevolent twist on the types of parts for which Robb was known. For her next big TV outing, she returned to the girl-next-door archetype that launched her career.

AnnaSophia Robb was the literal girl next door on The Act

Hulu's award-winning series The Act tells the real-life horror story of Gypsy Rose Blanchard (Joey King), who was abused throughout her childhood by her mother (Patricia Arquette), who suffered from extreme Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The characters of Gypsy and her mother are directly drawn from real people, but the show also employed many fictitious composite characters in order to tell its story. One of those is the teenage neighbor of the Blanchard family, Lacey, who is played by Robb.

Robb's role is not dissimilar from that of the audience. At first, she sees her neighbors the way that Gypsy Rose's mother wants her to see them. But, as more is revealed to her, she realizes that she was only ever getting part of the story.

The actress spoke to Collider about the difficult position in which Lacey finds herself throughout the course of the series. "Lacey thinks she knows who this person is, just because she's in a wheelchair and seems sick, but there's a whole life and a sexuality to Gypsy that she didn't see," she said. "There's a lot of guilt in Lacey that comes with, 'If that was happening, how did I not see it, when I thought I was her friend?'" Robb went on to say that she found the role challenging, but ultimately, "also a lot of fun to play."

The Act wasn't Robb's last effort with Hulu – most recently, she appeared as a young version of Reese Witherspoon's character in the miniseries Little Fires Everywhere. With several projects in various stages of production at the time of this writing, there's no doubt we'll be seeing a lot more of this Soul Surfer alum in the future.