Metro Weekly

‘Mean Girls’ Returns With a Fetching New Film Adaptation

Auli'i Cravalho and Jaquel Spivey take on a new generation of "Mean Girls," co-starring as queer besties in the musical remix.

Mean Girls: Jaquel Spivey, Angourie Rice and Auli'i Cravalho -- Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount Pictures
Mean Girls: Jaquel Spivey, Angourie Rice and Auli’i Cravalho — Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount Pictures

The mean girls (and boys) prancing among us, we try to avoid.

But the Mean Girls onscreen and onstage, who, for 20 years, since the release of the original hit comedy, have been schooling audiences on the laws of the teenage jungle? Well, those Mean Girls are still very much in demand, with a fetching new film adaptation of the 2018 Broadway musical (both scripted by Tina Fey) rolling into theaters, featuring a mostly new cast who have absorbed the lessons of this beloved cautionary tale.

“I know that mean girls, nine times out of ten, have a reason for getting there,” says Jaquel Spivey, the Tony-nominated star of A Strange Loop, making his big-screen debut in the film portraying “almost too gay to function” school outcast Damian.

“Being mean isn’t just something you’re born into,” he continues. “You have to be taught, or life teaches you how to be mean. So, for me, either I ignore you or I extend grace, but usually it’s ignore you. Because life over here is fun. And if you can’t get with it, I’m sorry, I’m gonna just let you be miserable.”

Auli’i Cravalho, who costars as Janis, Damian’s lesbian bestie and the mastermind of a vicious revenge plot, admits she learned her mean girl lessons the hard way.

Mean Girls: Bebe Wood, Renee Rapp and Avantika -- Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount Pictures.
Mean Girls: Bebe Wood, Renee Rapp and Avantika — Photo: Jojo Whilden/Paramount Pictures

“I will be completely honest — in high school I had a problem with authority,” she says. “So, like, I was mean. I was mean. So for those that realize, ‘Hmm, I didn’t have to be that much of a bitch to my mom,’ you can grow out of that. Now, my mom and I are great friends, but it also takes some time to realize that high school isn’t everything.”

Of course, high school, and their status within its hierarchy, is the only thing for the kids in Mean Girls, be they jocks, mathletes, or Plastics. It’s a savage circus, and, in this production, which boasts more than a dozen musical numbers, Janis and Damian are the ringmasters, narrating the entire story.

“This 2024 [film] is not a remake,” Cravalho says. “You know, twenty years later, this is what high school looks like now. And this film is a wonderful kaleidoscope of our ’04 classic and the Broadway musical brought together. And I think that’s such a fresh take. [Directors] Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez did such a wonderful job of being visionaries for this new era.”

Both Cravalho and Spivey also express gratitude that in this new era, Janis and Damian get to be so unabashedly, openly queer.

“Films are always indicative of their times,” says Cravalho. “And so it’s great that we have put a new spin on this. This is what high school looks like. I was queer in high school. I wish that I saw more representation.”

“I don’t think many people take into account how difficult it is to grow up and never see yourself, and have to force yourself to think you belong, or you’re supposed to be here, when no one shows you that you exist or you are important enough to exist,” adds Spivey.

“So to be a part of a duo that I think has always represented the underdogs, always represented the fierce queens who get overlooked, I just feel like they’re really celebrated in this movie,” he continues. “Damian’s not getting a shoe to the face this time, and I guarantee you, if he did, it would have been a different type of movie.”

Mean Girls is now playing in theaters nationwide. Visit

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