Sandy Roberts, 21, remembered for his humor and sincerity
Posted March 4, 2010 at 12:40 am in News
Sandy Roberts, a sophomore majoring in cinema-television production, died Saturday night following a car accident. He was 21.
The Hollywood, Fla., native loved making people laugh and had a passion for filmmaking, but friends said they will remember Roberts most for his kindness.
‚ÄúHe has some of those qualities that I feel like most people lose when they leave childhood ‚ÄĒ the ability to just walk up to someone and introduce himself or tell someone flat out that he wants to be friends with them or to make dates with people to hang out,‚ÄĚ said Hayley Huntley, a junior majoring in creative writing.
Roberts came to USC from the University School of Nova Southeastern University, a private high school in Florida, to study cinema. After spending his childhood creating sets out of construction paper and Scotch tape and making videos for various groups in high school, he decided he wanted to edit film.
Although Roberts was accepted to many top film schools, including New York University, his father, Scott Roberts, said he fell in love with USC.
‚ÄúWith everything that‚Äôs going on there with cinema, no place touches USC,‚ÄĚ Scott Roberts said. ‚ÄúSandy was so proud to be a part of it.‚ÄĚ
Roberts quickly found a place for his creativity on campus, working with the teams that won the ‚ÄúBest Comedy‚ÄĚ award at the Campus Movie Fest at USC both his freshman and sophomore years. The film he worked on this year went on to win an award at the regional competition in San Francisco and will be shown at the upcoming international competition.
‚ÄúHe was a very funny guy, and I would say that he particularly had an understanding of situational comedy and the timing of things and the juxtaposition of certain points,‚ÄĚ said Brian Rodysill, a sophomore majoring in environmental studies who lived with Roberts since their freshman year. ‚ÄúThat really played into his editing because that‚Äôs how you create those moments in film. He was very good at it.‚ÄĚ
This creativity was also apparent in Roberts‚Äô humor. Roberts was a member of Child‚Äôs Play, a nationally known children‚Äôs improv troupe based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and performed with The Merry Men, an 11-member improv group at USC, since last spring.
‚ÄúHe was always funny,‚ÄĚ said Joe DeSoto, director of The Merry Men. ‚ÄúIf he was doing great, it was funny and you were laughing with him, and if he wasn‚Äôt, you still were, if only because he was laughing too.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHe lit up a room,‚ÄĚ his mother, Mimi Roberts, said. ‚ÄúHe made everything fun and happy and joyous.‚ÄĚ
Those who performed with Roberts said he had a dynamic stage presence ‚ÄĒ he was always singing and rhyming, making bold, ‚Äúoutlandish‚ÄĚ choices in the name of comedy. Even though The Merry Men is technically a British improv troupe, his fellow comedians said Roberts preferred his trademark character, an Italian baker.
‚ÄúHe always challenged himself. He knew he got in way over his head and he knew it and relished it. That was why he was so beneficial to our troupe because you can‚Äôt have ‚ÄĒ there‚Äôs no other Sandy Roberts,‚ÄĚ said Mark Jacobson, a junior majoring in theatre who met Roberts through The Merry Men.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs 10 of us now, but we‚Äôre always going to be 11-deep. Before a performance, we always put a foot in the middle of a circle and talk ‚ÄĒ we‚Äôre always going to be 11 feet deep,‚ÄĚ he said.
Friends said the unique thing about Roberts‚Äô humor was that, like Roberts himself, it was never mean-spirited.
‚ÄúHe‚Äôs very, very funny in a way that makes you wonder why anyone makes mean jokes or racial jokes or sexist jokes because he never needs to make any of those to be very funny,‚ÄĚ Huntley said.
Scott Roberts credited his son‚Äôs good nature to his mother.
‚ÄúHe was a gentleman,‚ÄĚ Scott Roberts said. ‚ÄúHe got that quality because his mother taught him very good manners and very specific lessons about how to treat people.‚ÄĚ
Roberts also learned a lot from his younger brother, Zack. The two were best friends and worked together on a variety of projects, from performing comedy routines at family gatherings to writing and producing films, listing ‚ÄúRoberts Brothers Productions‚ÄĚ at the end.
‚ÄúWe were a team our whole life,‚ÄĚ Zack Roberts, who is a year and a half younger than Sandy, said. ‚ÄúWe had an unspoken way that we could work perfectly with each other. We could finish each other‚Äôs sentences and know what each other were thinking. It‚Äôs the type of thing that we would fill in the gaps for each other.‚ÄĚ
Friendship was also important to Roberts, who formed a group of close-knit friends from the beginning of his time at USC.
‚ÄúSandy could also have this completely serious side, not where he wasn‚Äôt happy but where he would stop joking, and that‚Äôs really when you could see how passionate he was about the things he did in his life,‚ÄĚ said Evan Moore, a sophomore majoring in theatre. ‚ÄúOne thing he never joked about was friendship.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAs funny as he was he also had the capability to be there when you need it,‚ÄĚ said Katie Longawa, a sophomore majoring in critical studies who met Roberts the first week of freshman year.
Those who knew Roberts said they couldn‚Äôt think of him without thinking of Nicole Deane, his girlfriend, whom he dated for more than a year.
‚ÄúWhen people think about Sandy, Nicole is synonymous with that and it‚Äôs vice versa. You think of Nicole, you think of Sandy,‚ÄĚ Longawa said.
‚ÄúSandy changed her,‚ÄĚ said Natasha Deane, Nicole‚Äôs mother. ‚ÄúTheir relationship was as close as the joining of two people into one. She was in him and he was in her.‚ÄĚ
Roberts was passionate about everything in his life, friends said.
‚ÄúSandy was one of the most passionate people that I knew,‚ÄĚ Rodysill said. ‚ÄúHe knew his interests and something could snag him and he would be very interested in it, but he would be 100 percent committed, whether it was his films or undertaking the task of doing his laundry.‚ÄĚ
Though family and friends said they would remember Roberts for his dedication, his greatest attribute, they said, was his sincerity.
‚ÄúFilm was what he did, Nicole was who he was with and The Merry Men was where he did improv,‚ÄĚ Jacobson said. ‚ÄúYou knew that when he was with you, he was loving every minute of it, committed to every minute of it and loving where he was.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAlthough he was extremely busy, active and sought after, and involved in a tremendous amount of organizations and clubs, when you were lucky enough to snag time with him, you were his entire focus,‚ÄĚ Mimi Roberts said. ‚ÄúHe blocked out everything and you were his world.‚ÄĚ