A/N: I wrote this essay to show how much Mae Whitman has inspired my life. I sent it to a writer on ADJL and he gave it to Mae! Mae loved it! She was even sneaking glances at it in the recording studio. I'm glad I was able to make her smile and brighten her day. My dream is to meet Mae.

I hope everyone enjoys reading this!

Remember, God loves you!

Mae Whitman-A True Rose of Inspiration

First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Lauren Rodriguez and I'm an avid fan of American Dragon: Jake Long. I am also a big fan of Mae Whitman, the wonderful and talented young woman who plays Rose on sed show.

Since ADJL, I've also gotten hooked on Avatar The LastAirbender, which Mae is also in. I also find myself identifying with both of Mae's characters in some way.

But before I explain the reasons why Mae inspires me so much, let me start at the beginning.

I'm visually impaired and have been like that since birth. I have what is known as ROP, Retina-opathy of Prematurity. Basically, that means that the oxygen levels from the venelator I was placed on at birth, were too high and resulted in my retinas being destroyed. But the way I look at it is, I have ROP, it doesn't' have me. I still do every day things, I just do some of those things differently.

I love writing and have even gotten a book published. The book is called Finding Her Courage. I also love reading and enjoy listening to books on tape and CD.

Now, because of my visual impairment, I use my ears when I watch TV and I have to say, Mae's voice is one I can pick out of any crowd. It's also a comfort for me to hear her on ADJL and Avatar every time she's in an episode.

I wanted to write this essay to show how much Mae Whitman has inspired me and how much she means to me as an actress. My dream is to meet her one day. And I hope through this essay, you'll learn a little about me and hopefully that dream will come true. I Really hope Mae reads this because every word I'm saying is true and comes from my heart.

Before I even sat down to write this essay, I thought for a long time as to what I wanted to say. I went over several ideas as to how to start this and even what to title it.

I started to think of why I was writing the essay and what my true intentions were. As I sat there, thinking, the title came to me almost instantly. The reason I titled this essay Mae Whitman: A True Rose of Inspiration, is because I believe Mae has grown so much in her field of work. Also, Mae has really shown us that if we work hard and love what we do, we too can grow into a rose that will blossom and touch others, as Mae has done for me over the last three years.

After the title was created, then came the task of knowing what I was going to say. I didn't have trouble knowing what to say, it was just how to express it in just the right way that was troubling me.

It wasn't until I listened to Breakout a few days ago, did the idea come to mind. And it's all thanks to Mae. And even though it was something Rose said, without Mae, Rose would not have come to life so well.

It had to do with something Rose said to Jake right after he revealed the true reason he was trying to avoid her.

"It's what's under your skin that's all that matters." And I thought, just right from my heart and everything else will fall into place, so that's what I decided to do.

When I first saw or I should say heard, American Dragon Jake Long, I didn't' know what it was and just decided to give it a chance. The first episode I ever saw and actually paid attention to I now know was called Act 4 , Scene fifteen. I didn't know it at the time, but I was in for a pleasant surprise.

As I sat there and listened, about ten minutes into the episode, I recognized a particular character or rather her voice. I listened harder and sure enough, the voice was familiar and comforting. It was that of Mae Whitman. For a minute or two, I forgot where I had heard her voice before until I remembered that Mae played Shanti in Jungle Book 2, which is now one of my favorite Disney sequels, but back then, I hadn't watched it for awhile.

I had also remembered hearing Mae in "Teacher's Pet", but back then, I didn't know who she was, so I didn't have anything to compare that show with.

After watching Act 4, Scene Fifteen, I started watching ADJL more frequently and I learned that the character Mae Whitman played was named Rose. I always loved that name ever since that day. I also found out through watching the show that Rose was also Huntsgirl, who was destined to kill the American Dragon, who was really Jake, but she didn't know it.

It wasn't until a few more episodes down the line, Ski Trip, to be exact, that I started identifying with Rose.

A lot of my friends who also watched the show, would often asked me who my favorite character was. I would always reply confidently and with no sense of shame or embarrassment whatsoever, "Rose."

I came to realize that among the few friends I had, Rose wasn't that popular. A lot of them thought she was evil and they didn't' trust her. But not me. I Trusted Rose from the very beginning. I knew Rose had a good heart and she really didn't want to be Huntsgirl. But after watching the Hunted, I was sure of it.

When I saw Ski Trip, I realized that the Huntsman, Rose's boss, I guess you could say, was abusive to her. I don't mean in the physical sense as much as the emotional and mental sense. I felt bad for Rose and could relate to her.

The reason is, I too was abused by my mother at a young age. It was mostly emotional and mental, like Rose received at the hands of the Huntsman, but once or twice, she did hit me.

But I remember the words hurting me much more. And I knew they must have hurt Rose too, especially when the Huntsman told her that if she didn't do her job, not to come home.

When I saw that, I was thinking, "Go and tell Jake. He'll help you." I knew Jake would definitely help Rose if she had gone to him, but I understood her reason for not doing it. She was scared. She was as scared as I was whenever I went home back when I was younger. I didn't' know what kind of mood my mother was going to be in or if she was even going to be around.

Anyway, getting back on track here. As I continued to watch ADJL and identify more with Rose, I found myself having a sort of connection with her. I found that I knew what Rose was going to say before she said it. I found this cool and often would play Rose along with Mae. I find the same thing is true with Katara as well.

Apart from my favorite TV Shows that Mae is in, it is because of Mae that I now love Anne of Green Gables. I had to read it back in fourth grade and I didn't like it very much.

It wasn't until I came across a fan site for Mae Whitman, did I find out she was in a dramatization for Anne of Green Gables, and she played Anne. I listened to a sample of it and the minute I heard Mae's voice, I was hooked and had to buy it.

When it came the next day, I listened to the whole thing. The second I heard Mae, I was pulled in from the very beginning. I don't know what it is about Mae, but it's just something about her voice that pulls me into anything she's in. If Mae is in it, I'm bound to like it and identify with her character. This was the case with Anne as well. I loved the way Mae portrayed Anne. And by the time the book was over, I wanted to listen to it again. Now I can't get enough of it.

As I listened to the story, I found that Anne and I had a lot in common. We're both very talkative and loved to use our imaginations. We also had tempers and can flare up sometimes, especially if we're made fun of for any reason. But most of all, we both have kind hearts and will do anything to help those in need.

I especially liked the part in the book where Anne helped nurse Diana's little sister back to health after Mini Mae came down with croup. If I were in Anne's place, I know I would have done the exact same thing. I enjoy helping kids and I also volunteer in a daycare center from time to time.

If I had to pick three of Mae's characters that I identify with the most, they would be Rose, Katara and Anne. My personality is a mix of these three together and my temper is a lot like Katara's, with a little of Anne thrown in. But I'm as calm as the river most of the time. I'm also a friendly person who enjoys making friends and having fun. My element is also water.

But sometimes, I like to curl up with a good book on tape and let the story take me away. And Anne of Green Gables does exactly that for me.

Katara and I also have a lot in common. We will go to any lengths to protect the people we love and also to help anyone in need. We both had to grow up fast due to our home life and circumstances beyond our control. Also, like Katara, I don't like being discriminated against for ANY reason.

It's this reason that I tell people about my visual impairment right off the bat. That way, they know about it. If they choose not to be my friend after finding out, that's their choice. I don't let my disability stop me most of the time. In fact, I let it become my ability. I teach people about it, so they may learn how to treat other disabled people with the respect and kindness they deserve.

Anyway, back to Mae.

Mae also has a way of describing things. She does this so well, that when I listened to Anne of Green Gables, I felt like I was there with Anne and I could picture everything she was describing in my mind's eye. I could picture everything from the lake of shining waters, to the red road they traveled on to get to Green Gables. I could even picture what Diana's house looked like, even though Mae didn't describe it.

Mae expresses her emotions so well, that I found myself crying when Mathew died, then when Anne started to cry a few days later over the death of her friend, I was in tears right along with her.

Like with Rose and Katara, I found myself knowing what Mae's character, Anne, was going to do even before she did it. For example, right before Merilla finds out that Anne died her hair green, I had the feeling that something had gone wrong with it. Then when I found out what Anne had done, I laughed so hard! Needless to say, I could listen to Anne of Green Gables over and over again and not get tired of it, and it's all thanks to Mae.

I am also an avid reader and writer of fanfiction. Both ADJL and Avatar. And also of Anne of Green Gables, but I just read the Anne of Green Gables stories. Whenever I Read Anne of Green Gables stories, I can hear Mae saying Anne's lines of the story so clearly. The same goes for Rose in ADJL stories and Katara in Avatar stories.

The second to last thing I want to comment on about Mae is her fantastic performance in "Thief". While I didn't like some of the content, I LOVED how Mae portrayed Tammi. She did it in such a way that I almost cried when Tammi was talking about her mother after she died in the car accident. Mae did an awesome job on "Thief". She especially did a wonderful job in the episode, "No Direction Home" when Tammi and Nick had that big fight. She was amazing! In short, Mae was the only reason I watched "Thief" and she did NOT disappoint me one bit. She was amazing!

The last thing I want to say about Mae is a comment on her singing voice. Mae has such an awesome singing voice and I love listening to her on the School's Out: Christmas soundtrack. In fact, Mae's song, I Heard the Bells is the only song I listen to. That song helps me find inspiration when I have writer's block.

The funny thing is, I even labeled the CD Mae Whitman. I label all my CD's in Braille, so I can find them easily. I labeled that particular CD with Mae's name because Mae is the only singer I listened to on it.

I want to end this essay by saying that Mae is a wonderful, sweet and talented actress who does an awesome job in portraying her characters and bringing them to life-whether it's live action, like Thief or animation like American Dragon Jake Long and Avatar.

Mae has a beautiful singing voice and a way with expressing her emotions that comes across beautifully on the screen and behind the microphone as well. And if I ever get the chance to meet her, I'll be sure to let her know how much she has inspired me. She will never know how much she's influenced my life for the better. Mae has also helped me realize my own dream of wanting to be a voice over actress. I'm looking for classes to take now and I hope God will open that particular door for me. Mae is my role model and I intend to learn everything I can through watching her on TV and listening to her in anything she's in.

I want to end by wishing Mae well in everything she does. She will always be in my prayers and thoughts and I hope God richly blesses her life.

All in all, in my eyes, Mae Whitman will always be a true Rose of inspiration for me.