AnnaSophia Robb wears her 11 years with the maturity and insight of someone three times her age.

The Denver native stars in the upcoming movie “Because of Winn-Dixie,” based on the popular children’s book about a girl who finds a dog, names him after the local supermarket, and uses him to befriend the disparate locals in her new town.

Robb recently spoke with members of the religious press to promote the film, and her poise astounded all.

With her mother, Janet, discretely looking on a few feet away, the young actress discussed numerous topics: prayer, animals and her future in the business.

“I do pray,” said Robb. “I love being able to pray just because you can tell God anything, and he just listens. And even if it doesn’t seem like he’s listening, he’s always there.”

She looked to her right where animal trainer Mark Forbes sat holding Laiko, the Picardy shepherd who played the dog Winn-Dixie in the movie.

“Animals are kind of like a symbol of God, because they listen to you always and they’re so sweet,” she said. “They just love you no matter what.”

Yes, the 11-year-old Robb used the phrase “symbol of God”—and in a meaningful way, no less. But she was just getting started.

One of the movie’s themes involves a candy that, in a magical-realist twist, is able to taste sad or melancholy. I asked Robb if she could infuse a candy with an idea, what it would be.

“I probably would want it to taste like helping people—just wanting to help people because there’s so many people in the world that don’t have anything,” she responded. “I feel like America is kind of protected from all that, but if you go out of America, there’s real poverty.”

She then elaborated on various societal problems needing our attention. She singled out litter, smoke pollution and a dependency on gas instead of solar power.

Robb’s career profile is getting larger by the month. She recently played Samantha Parkington in TV’s “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday,” and she can be seen as Violet Beauregarde in Tim Burton’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” which opens in July.

As for “Because of Winn-Dixie,” she appears in just about every scene.

“She carries the movie,” said her co-star, Oscar-winning actress Eva Marie Saint. Saint told reporters she and Robb became good friends and still write to each other.

Robb also took time to talk shop. She said she admires the careers of Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep, but she wants to carve her own niche—which means taking a mix of age-appropriate roles.

“I don’t want to do any Victoria’s Secret commercials,” said Robb to laughter and applause. On the other hand, “When I get to be an adult,” she added, “I don’t want to be in Barney videos.”

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for

The movie’s official Web site is here.

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