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The Transformation Of Mae Whitman From Childhood To Good Girls

At 33, actress Mae Whitman has already been active in Hollywood for over three decades. Originally a child star who appeared alongside stars like Meg Ryan, George Clooney, and Sandra Bullock in films such as "Independence Day" and "When A Man Loves a Woman," she's gone on to become a household name in her own right. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" are just a few of the hit movies in which she's appeared.

While she got her start in movies, Whitman is arguably best known for her wide-ranging roles in the TV world. She first gained television recognition playing Ann in the cult-favorite Fox comedy "Arrested Development," before playing the rebellious Amber on "Parenthood" and currently starring as ordinary mom-turned-criminal Annie on "Good Girls." She's also built a sizable voice acting career, most notably voicing Katara in the beloved Nickelodeon show "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

For an actress who already has such a strong resumé, it will be exciting to see where exactly Whitman's career goes next. While viewers wait to find out her next gig, let's break down exactly how she got to where she is now.

Whitman made her acting debut at the age of two

As the child of two Hollywood professionals (her mother Pat Musick is a voice actress, and her father Jeffrey Whitman is a set construction coordinator), Whitman started her career early. At just two years old, she did a voice-over for a Tyson Chicken commercial.

By 1994, a 6-year-old Whitman appeared in her first feature-length film, playing Meg Ryan's youngest daughter in the romantic drama "When a Man Loves a Woman." Over the next several years, she played the child of multiple A-list stars: Bill Pullman (in 1996's "Independence Day"), George Clooney (in 1996's "One Fine Day"), and Sandra Bullock (in 1998's "Hope Floats").

Although her childhood wasn't always conventional, Whitman credits her parents for helping her stay grounded as a child actor. "They really were so careful all along the way to choose projects that were with good people and honest people, and also they really gave me the gift of choosing if I wanted to do something or not," Whitman told HuffPost in 2017, adding, "I think equally of hanging out with Harry Connick Jr. and Sandra Bullock, genuinely feeling like, 'These are my friends, Mom, please go away.'"

She gained widespread attention for her roles on popular TV series

As a child, Whitman had some notable TV roles, such as appearing in the "Friends" Season 3 episode "The One Where Rachel Quits," and playing Grace in the Fox series "State of Grace." But she truly broke out in the TV world as she got older, starting when she played George Michael's girlfriend Ann Veal in "Arrested Development" (originally from 2004 to 2006, and again in the Netflix revival).

Fans may also be surprised to learn that she voiced headstrong, outspoken waterbender Katara in the Nickelodeon animated fantasy series "Avatar: The Last Airbender." In the early 2000s, Whitman established herself as a notable voice actor for children's media, also memorably voicing Tinkerbell in the Disney Fairies movie franchise. The actress is still a working voice actress to this day, most recently portraying Connie in Amazon Prime's "Invincible" and Amity in Disney Channel's "The Owl House."

By 2010, she starred on Parenthood and began taking on more mature film roles

In 2010, Whitman landed a series regular role on the NBC family dramedy "Parenthood," which follows the Bravermans, four siblings and their families juggling the ups and downs of life in their California hometown. She played protective single mom Sarah Braverman's (Lauren Graham) rebellious teenage daughter Amber Holt, which earned her a 2015 Critics Choice Television Awards nomination for best supporting actor in a drama series.

"I feel like as an actor, what we're doing here is special," Whitman said of the show in a 2013 Entertainment Tonight interview. "I've been on this show for five years and have never felt bored or like there wasn't something new to find with Amber because this is life. Life changes and you make choices — every choice is hard."

The 2010s also saw Whitman take on more mature film roles compared to her child star days. She was Roxy Richter, one of the evil exes in 2010's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," and in 2012, she starred alongside Logan Lerman and Emma Watson in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." Whitman also got the chance to lead a teen film in 2015, playing the titular character in "The DUFF."

Whitman currently plays Annie in the NBC dramedy Good Girls

These days, the actress stars on NBC's crime dramedy "Good Girls," which centers on three Michigan moms (the other two are portrayed by Christina Hendricks and Retta) desperately in need of money who pull off a heist. They unexpectedly get drawn further into the local criminal underworld, though, and can rely on only each other for support. Whitman plays Annie Marks, a former teen mom who's locked in a brutal custody battle with her ex over their son Ben (Isaiah Stannard). For her, it's a full-circle moment after growing up alongside so many iconic Hollywood moms.

"I've been acting since I was four years old. I only have flashes of memories from when I was little. But, I've been sitting in so many cars looking up at the mom — my TV mom or my movie mom — who's been driving, and it's amazing now that I'm driving the car," Whitman told Variety. "I look over at my kid in the passenger seat, and it just feels really full circle, and it feels really cool. It makes me remember how thankful I am that I still get to be doing the job I do."

Whether she leads another TV series, gets a new voice-acting gig, or does something else entirely, we can't wait to see what Mae Whitman does next.