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Why Katara From Avatar: The Last Airbender Sounds So Familiar

One of the things that drew fans into the world of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" early on was the dynamics between the main characters. Where Prince Zuko (Dante Basco) is bad-tempered and rash, Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen), his nemesis, is more happy-go-lucky and contemplative thanks to his time among the monks. There's also the contrast between Sokka (Jack De Sena) and his younger sister, Katara.

Sokka and Katara both had to be more responsible as children because their tribe was often at war. Sokka tends to wisecrack and tries to quickly take charge of situations. Katara, meanwhile, is more nurturing and morally steadfast, though her stubborn nature sometimes has unforeseen consequences. She also learns how to be a waterbending master over the course of the series, learning about the strengths and limits of her powers.

The actor who voices Katara on "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Mae Whitman, may also be a familiar face. Here's more about where you've heard — and seen — her before.

Whitman played Ann Veal on Arrested Development

Mae Whitman began voice acting at the age of 3, when she recorded lines for a Tyson chicken commercial (via Turner Classic Movies). But she quickly transitioned into film and television acting, making her debut in "When a Man Loves a Woman" when she was still only 5 years old. She was also the president's daughter in "Independence Day" and appeared on a Season 3 episode of "Friends."

However, for Millennials unaware of her voice acting as Katara, Whitman is best known as Ann Veal, George-Michael Bluth's (Michael Cera) boring, fundamentalist high school girlfriend on the sitcom "Arrested Development." Although she wasn't the first actor to take on the role, she did return for the revival in 2013. George-Michael's family constantly struggles to remember Ann's name, but Whitman's performance was impossible to forget. Whitman loved the character as well, telling the A.V. Club in 2013, "What an adorable thing to see little Michael Cera all wound up about this blob, and everybody's like, 'Is she funny? What's the deal there?'"

Whitman was the starring voice of the Tinker Bell movies

Even after she landed roles as a child actor in live-action projects, Mae Whitman continued to have a prolific voice-over career on shows like "American Dragon: Jake Long" and "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Whitman has also given her expressive, earnest voice to Tinker Bell across 11 Disney projects, including five videos, two shorts, two video games, a movie, and an episode of "Captain Jake and the Never Land Pirates."

A spin-off of "Peter Pan," the six "Tinker Bell" movies focus on the title character before she meets Peter or the Lost Boys. The plucky fairy may get into trouble sometimes, but she always uses her determination and optimism to help her friends and her home of Pixie Hollow. The franchise has seen a great deal of commercial success, though a seventh movie in the series was canceled in 2013 (via The Hollywood Reporter).

She was part of the cast of Parenthood

Mae Whitman was 21 when she signed on to play Amber Holt, Sarah Braverman's (Lauren Graham) iconoclastic, stubborn teen daughter on the NBC series "Parenthood." Amber resents both of her parents, especially her neglectful father, Seth (John Corbett), and seeks to find direction and purpose in her life. The teenager turned young adult ends up going through several major changes over the course of "Parenthood," including a critical injury from a car crash and having a child with an ex-boyfriend, but finds lasting love and happiness by the end.

Whitman enjoyed getting to depict Amber's hard-won growth on the show. The actor told Salon, "Amber went from being this petulant teen to being on her own and growing, maturing, having other issues that are very important to her now." She also confessed to being an avid fan of the show itself, even watching it every week with her family.

She was the DUFF

In between starring on "Parenthood" and recording voice roles, Mae Whitman appeared in several movies, even playing one of Ramona Flowers' (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) Evil Exes, Roxy Richter, against her old scene partner Michael Cera in "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World." Yet she finally got to play the lead when she starred in the 2015 teen rom-com "The DUFF."

Whitman plays Bianca, a high school senior who discovers that she's considered a "Designated Ugly Fat Friend" (DUFF) within her friend group. Furious, she strikes up a deal with football captain Wesley (Robbie Amell) to rise in social status in exchange for helping him with his science grade. Whitman told Refinery29 that it was all too easy to relate to an insecure high schooler: "I was excited to tell that story and [help] other people who feel that way feel less alone."

"The DUFF" itself received positive reviews (via Rotten Tomatoes), and critics had nothing but good things to say about Whitman's performance. Little White Lies even wrote, "Mae Whitman – please star in all movies." High praise indeed.

Whitman starred on Good Girls

After years of playing teenagers and young adults, the full-on adult role of Annie Marks on NBC's "Good Girls" was a refreshing change of pace for Mae Whitman. On "Off Camera with Sam Jones," the actor said, "There's something personally validating as far as, like, 'Oh, this is fun to be actually in the place that I'm in instead of having to make myself think of a different headspace.'"

Yet ironically, as Whitman pointed out, Annie is one of the least mature characters she's ever played. A single mother who turns to robbery to make ends meet, Annie loves her son, Ben (Isaiah Stannard), but has poor impulse control and tends to put herself and her friends in dangerous situations.

The series was canceled in 2021 after only four seasons, but Whitman continues to work in entertainment. She told Salon in 2012 that she regularly checks in with herself to see if acting is still what she wants to do. "But being on a set is just always where I want to be and is such a deep part of me, and I'm just so, so happy doing it and every project I'm involved in I love so much," she concluded.