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'Modern Family' star has ties to Wadena

Evelyn Anderson, 94, of Wadena and great granddaughter Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, 4, celebrate their birthdays together in Evelyn's Wadena home earlier this month. Aubrey visited from Los Angeles, where she plays the character Lily in the ABC television hit sitcom "Modern Family".

If anyone had asked Harold Anderson if anyone from his family would go into show business, he would have said no way.

But when the Baxter man found out his granddaughter was going to become a TV star, he was ecstatic.

"Television isn't something anyone would have dreamed of," he said.

Anderson's granddaughter is 4-year-old Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, who plays the character Lily on ABC's "Modern Family".

"It's kind of surreal," said Anderson's wife, Janet, as she recalled hearing about Aubrey's successful audition for the show back in summer 2011.

While Aubrey's move into the spotlight caught her grandparents off-guard, her great-grandmother Evelyn Anderson, 94, of Wadena, thinks Aubrey's fame isn't too surprising, considering her mother, Amy Anderson, formerly of Wadena, works as a comedian out of Los Angeles.

Evelyn got a chance to spend her birthday with the Aubrey earlier this month, when the young star traveled to Wadena to visit family. Aubrey's family members said she was in and out of the area May 22 through June 5, and decided to meet up with Evelyn because the two have birthdays that are close together.

"We had a little celebration with cake and everything for the two of them," Janet said, adding that Aubrey comes to visit at least once a year.

While Aubrey has gained considerable fame throughout the past year, Janet said the family still sees her as an average 4-year-old girl who loves to spend time playing with her cousins.

"You don't really think that that child on TV is your grandchild," Janet chuckled.

Harold agrees that the family's relationship with Aubrey seems like a normal one.

"We might be Skyping with her, and within a couple hours watching her on television," he said.

Janet added that Aubrey's audition to join "Modern Family" was unexpected.

"Her mother's agent heard that the two little twin babies that were playing that part were going to be quitting and that there was going to be an opening, and the agent suggested that Aubrey go in and try out for it," Janet said. "It was a surprise to us all that she got the part."

While Janet and Harold have become addicted to watching "Modern Family", Evelyn said she only watches parts of the show that feature her great-granddaughter.

"I don't really care for that kind of a show," Evelyn said. "I usually just watch until I see her, and then I turn it off."

Actors for Lily's character on "Modern Family" have been changed once, and Aubrey's family said they don't know if another change will be made as Lily's character grows older. For now, Janet said Aubrey is set to be part of the show's Season 4 production kickoff in August.

While it's not always easy for the Anderson family to live far away from Aubrey, they are grateful they get to see her on TV so often.

"The longer I watch ("Modern Family"), the more impressed I am, and realize why it's such a proper show," Harold said. "It's just done so well."