Boy Meets World’s Rider Strong Admitted He Didn’t Respect Boundaries as a Child Actor

Danielle Fishel was only 12 years old when she secured the role of Topanga Lawrence in the ABC sitcom Boy Meets World, which she starred in between 1993 and 2000.

Fishel went on to reprise her role in the 2014 sequel series Girl Meets World, and earlier this year, she launched a podcast about the beloved ’90s show alongside two of her former costars.

Boy Meets World’s Rider Strong Admitted He Didn’t Respect Boundaries as a Child Actor

Together, Danielle, Rider Strong, and Will Friedle co-host the Pod Meets World podcast, a series where they discuss their time on Boy Meets World and their experiences as child stars.

In this week’s episode, the actors took part in a fan Q&A, where they answered some frequently asked questions about their lives and the sitcom, which included a question about who used to receive the most fan mail.

The three quickly agreed that Rider proved to be the most popular with viewers, with the actor joining the show at the age of 14 and playing the main character Cory Matthews’s best friend, Shawn Hunter.

Rider went on to reveal that by the “third or fourth” season of the show, he was receiving thousands of letters each week, which became “overwhelming” and made him feel “uncomfortable,” as he was worried about letting his fans down by not being able to reply.

Danielle went on to share her own scary experience with fan mail, which took place shortly after she joined the show when she was still a preteen.

She went on to reveal that a grown man wrote to her pretending to be a young girl, and once they had established regular correspondence, he began to show up at her school and tell people that he was there to pick her up.

“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,” Danielle said, having previously explained that she took part in gymnastics before becoming an 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.”

Danielle said that in the second letter she received, the girl included pictures of her brother who was “several years older” and a “good-looking guy.” She also said that the girl would repeatedly say that she didn’t know what she’d do without her brother, as she doesn’t have parents. Then, the girl included her phone number in one of the letters so that Danielle could call her.

“My mom is participating in me writing back,” Danielle clarified. “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 I call her,” Danielle went on. “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 this point in Danielle’s retelling, Rider exclaimed: “She doesn’t exist! She doesn’t exist — some guy pretending to be a girl, you got catfished!”

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Danielle confirmed that this is precisely what happened, and explained: “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!’”

“And then he started showing up at my school and telling people he was there to pick me up,” Danielle told her shocked costars, with Rider calling the entire thing Danielle’s “first stalker experience.”

While the actor did not detail how the situation ended, Rider shared his experience of not knowing how to have “clear boundaries” between himself and his fans as a teenager.

“I had girls calling my house when I was like 11, 12, because I was listed in the phone book — or my parents were, in my hometown,” Rider shared. “Back then, I would meet up with them. This was before Boy Meets World, this is when I was on Home Improvement or I had done local plays.”

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He added: “Girls would call the house and I’d meet them at an arcade, super awkward. At the time I was like, oh you like me, you saw me on TV, OK I’ll be your friend, let’s hang out, maybe I’ll have a crush on you too! In retrospect, it’s like, no, you have to create boundaries.”

Rider revealed that he only learned how to correctly interact with fans after he saw how his Boy Meets World costar, Ben Savage, handled being recognized when they were out together, with the star saying that Ben had been “so confident and gracious and thankful” while signing autographs.

“At that point, if I got recognized I’d be like oh my god, you know me from my TV show, that’s so cool! What’s your name, do you want to go and hang out?” Rider laughed. “It’s not a chance for you to freak out too.”

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