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Why Jo From Mean Girls 2 Looks So Familiar

"Mean Girls" was a surprise success — the Paramount Pictures movie from Tina Fey ended up making back its entire budget and more in its first weekend and then went on to gross more than $130 million worldwide during its initial 2004 run. But it wasn't until 2008 that a second installment, said to be part of a slate of sequels, began development at Paramount, and a casting call wasn't made until 2010. "Mean Girls 2" was finally released as an ABC Family TV movie in early 2011. TV by the Numbers reported that it was the top movie of the season in key demographics, but it definitely made less of a splash than the original. 

Originally played by Lindsay Lohan, the role of a fish-out-of-water teen at an American high school who loses herself in the "mean girl" persona went to another actress made notable by her Disney association. Her name is Meaghan Jette Martin, and if you think she looks familiar, you just might be right. She's an actress with both onscreen and voiceover credits, including Disney-related projects such as "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody," a few appearances in Jonas Brothers projects, a Demi Lovato music video, and her own music video: a version of "When You Wish Upon a Star" that appeared on the 70th anniversary DVD of "Pinocchio." Here's where else you might have caught her onscreen in the past. 

She played mean girl Tess Tyler in Camp Rock

Although Jo was the protagonist in "Mean Girls 2," Meaghan Martin clearly played a pretty convincing mean girl herself in that film and others. In 2008's "Camp Rock," she was Tess Tyler, the queen bee who made life difficult for Demi Lovato's Mitchie Torres. Not only did she relegate her friends to low-profile backup singers and criticize them at every turn, but she also framed Mitchie for theft. Her character had a reason for her overwhelming need for control, though — it turned out that Tess' mom, T.J. Tyler, is a famous star and has no time for her teen daughter. 

In the second movie, Tess is less of an antagonist. Still, she decamps from Camp Rock with a bunch of defectors to join the crew at Camp Star for selfish reasons, becoming part of the rival team led by Axel Turner (Daniel Kash), a producer with a grudge against Camp Rock's owner Brown Cesario (Daniel Fathers) who's trying to put Camp Rock out of business. However, that camp experience doesn't quite turn out as she thought, and she comes around in the end.

But the good girl role comes more naturally to Martin, she said in an interview with Seventeen in 2010. She doesn't think she's like Tess at all. "I like to play good girls more because I play bad ones all the time! With bad girls, you can't go as many places as you can with a good girl. But, it is fun to play the bad girl because you always get the better wardrobe," she told the publication. 

She played Bianca Stratford in the TV version of 10 Things I Hate About You

Following the success of "10 Things I Hate About You," the 1999 movie starring Julia Stiles as Kat Stratford and Larisa Oleynick as her younger sister Bianca, a television series following the characters came to ABC Family for 20 episodes in 2009 and 2010. Meaghan Martin played Bianca, the popular younger sister, while Lindsay Shaw ("Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide") played outsider Kat. The show also starred Ethan Peck as Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger's role), Nick Braun ("Princess Protection Program") as Cameron James, and Dana Davis ("Heroes") as cheerleader Chastity Church.

The plot involves the Stratford sisters moving to California and starting at a new high school. Bianca strives to regain the popularity she had at her previous school, and Kat just tries to leave high school as quickly as possible. The series received a positive initial reception but was canceled after a second season due to low ratings

In casting Martin, producer and writer Carter Covington told Shine On Media about Bianca, "Her whole drive is, 'I want to be popular.' But it's not just, 'I want to be popular.' It's like she could be, and she probably will be, the CEO of a company someday. You know, she is driven. She could have a 4.0 and get into Harvard, but she is putting all that energy into being popular. And I really wanted to make her smart and driven versus just like vapid and, 'I really want things,' and to be silly. So what I love about Meaghan Jette Martin is she is that person." He called Martin driven but also a "really likable sweet nice person, and that helps too because she's often times making really shallow choices to be popular, and you've got to also kind of be on board with her."

She's been in numerous video game projects, including Until Dawn and Kingdom Hearts

In one of her high-profile projects, you don't see Meaghan Martin's real face or body at all. She provided the voiceover and motion capture for the character of Jessica Riley in "Until Dawn," the 2015 first-person teen horror drama video game from developer Supermassive Games published by Sony for the PlayStation 4. Her playable protagonist is an ex-ballerina whose fate depends on the actions players choose in the game. "Until Dawn" became a bestseller and a hidden PS4 gem and is still considered a pretty great horror game. "Jessica has a whole lot of personality," Martin said in a "Meet the Cast" piece on the QP Games YouTube channel, calling her the "mean girl" character who knows she's pretty and will use this knowledge to her advantage.

Martin is also a regular in the "Kingdom Hearts" franchise, having voiced the English version of the character Naminé, the Nobody of Kairi. She played the quiet, generous, memory-controlling character in "Kingdom Hearts 3," "Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix," "Kingdom Hearts coded," "Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep," "Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days," and "Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories." She told TresA Magazine in 2020, "I feel so fortunate to have voiced Namine for the last ten years! It's fun to work on a project that people are so excited and passionate about." She noted that voiceover work has some challenges since video games are kept so secret. "It presents its own challenges, but generally is a fun project that doesn't take too much time," she said.