The actor, who played Topanga Lawrence, said she was catfished and then stalked when she was 12 years old.
Danielle Fishel was only 12 years old when she first stepped into the role of Topanga Lawrence in the TGIF favorite Boy Meets World. Fishel, along with fellow Boy Meets World alumni Will Friedle and Rider Strong, recently started the podcast Pod Meets World reflecting on their time during the wildly popular sitcom. And it turns out, the young stars experienced harassment. On the latest installment, Fishel revealed that she had a grown man not only catfish her, but show up to her school and claim he was there to pick her up.
The whole conversation started with some Q&A from listeners, where one asked who used to receive the most fan mail. The three quickly agreed that it was Strong, who played Shawn Hunter, BFF of Corey Matthews (Ben Savage). Strong noted that he was overwhelmed and felt “uncomfortable” at the height of the onslaught of fan mail during the “third or fourth” season, saying that he was receiving thousands of letters a week.
Fishel then shared her own horrifying fan mail story, which took place shortly after she joined the show. Originally, Fishel was only supposed to be a guest role, but as audiences quickly fell in love with her, she became a mainstay in Corey’s life.
“When we first started getting fan mail, I also read them all and responded to them all. I got a letter in ’93 from a young girl and she included pictures of herself in it, and she was in gymnastics,” Fischel explained, noting that she took gymnastics before becoming a professional actor.
“She wrote me this handwritten letter that she was a fan, and I wrote her back and she sent me another letter and we started this correspondence back and forth,” she went on. “I felt very close to her, and one of the things she talked about regularly was that both of her parents died when she was young and she lived with her older brother.”
Fishel revealed that the girl even included photos of her older brother in some letters, but no pictures of herself. The girl then included a phone number for Fishel to give her a call. The young star’s mom was looking over at all the letters at the time, too. “My mom is participating in me writing back, she’s reading all these letters as well and she’s aware of what I’m writing and she’s reading what this girl is writing to me, and my mom is like: ‘[It seems like] you would be friends.’”
So a 12-year-old Danielle makes the call. “And I get her voicemail, but it’s not her. It’s her brother’s voicemail because it’s his house. They live in an apartment together, but her name isn’t anywhere on the voicemail,” at which point Strong put the pieces together: “She doesn’t exist! She doesn’t exist — some guy pretending to be a girl, you got catfished!”
Fishel confirmed that she was indeed catfished. “The way it all came out is because I kept calling her, and I left my phone number and she wouldn’t call me back. Then we got a letter from her brother saying that she had died, and my mum woke up in the middle of the night and was like: ‘She never existed, it’s always been him!’”
But then things took an even darker turn. “He started showing up at my school and telling people he was there to pick me up,” she told her shocked cohosts. Fishel did not expand on how the harassment came to an end, but thankfully she was okay.
Previously, the three BMW alum talked about how awkward it was to kiss as preteens and young teens for the show. Both Strong and Friedle, whose characters were sometimes depicted as “girl-crazy,” said the “constant kissing” was wildly uncomfortable.
"When I was about 18 and it was a girl a week — Rider, we both went through this, where it's like: 'That's your partner and you're going to kiss!'" Friedle said. "I started asking, 'How would you like to do this?' because it's creepy."
"It was hugely uncomfortable. Everyone talks about that, like 'oh man you got to kiss all these girls and you got to do all this,' and it's not awesome. You might think it is, but it really is horribly uncomfortable to do in front of an audience," Friedle continued.
Fishel then summed up the unfortunate lack of support or advocacy for the young stars at the time: "We were actors, it didn't matter whether or not we were uncomfortable or comfortable with it. Whatever the writer wrote is what you did, and you were made to feel that if something did make you uncomfortable, it was inappropriate for you to express that.”