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Or maybe you caught a glimpse of the mass hysteria that erupted when it was announced that Fishel and Savage would be reprising their roles as Topanga and Cory on Disney’s Girl Meets World sequel—an unusual showing of enthusiasm from twentysomethings over the announcement of a Disney Channel program, for sure.
And it’s that return to TV that makes now as good of a time as any to explore how Fishel, by every account, managed to navigate some semblance of a stable and normal childhood while covering Teen Beat and Seventeen, manufacture a successful post-child star career, and actually have a healthy relationship with her sitcom past (and present).
“Most people would say something right off the bat, which is fine,” she says.
Tim Belusko, a classmate who Fishel would eventually marry, however, was not one of them.
You can certainly see evidence of it in the career moves of stars like Beverly Hills: 90210’s Jennie Garth and Tori Spelling.
Fishel has her own version of this journey—there were appearances in the purportedly raunchy National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze straight-to-video films, a Maxim photo shoot, and several well-received hosting and correspondent gigs on The Tyra Banks Show, Style network’s The Dish, and MSN TV’s Last Night on TV before Girl Meets World happened—though she maintains that her relationship with Topanga has always been mostly positive.“It’s tough, because definitely there were the years where I wanted to be working and I wasn’t, and a large part of that may have had to do with the fact that people didn’t want to see me as anything other than Topanga,” she says. Because the way I’ve always looked at it is that actors work their entire lives to be remembered for just one role.
I didn’t want to have that same false sense of security again.”Not that her reputation as Topanga didn’t precede her on campus.
But in the years since Boy Meets World ended and she struggled to book regular acting gigs, “I didn’t like the fact that because I didn’t have any skills, I was stuck.”Though she actually booked jobs hosting The Dish and Last Night on TV while attending college full time, she never considered abandoning school.
“I was at the mercy of somebody else to just give me a job in the years after Boy Meets World ended, whereas if I had gone to college and had when a Plan B and it was something else that I loved, I could’ve walked away at any point,” she says.
So the fact that I was lucky enough to do that for seven years, I always looked at that as, yeah, could it frustrate me that no one wants to give me another job, or would I rather look at it and say I was lucky enough to play a character that resonated with people? Being authentic to her was really important.”Throughout our conversation, there are things that Fishel definitely wants to talk about—her fondness for Topanga clearly chief among them.
”Hearing Fishel talk about Topanga, it becomes easier to understand why she’s had an easier time than most actors being so closely identified with one role.“In my opinion, Topanga was one of the most well-rounded, well-written characters on TV,” she says. She was one of the only female characters I could think of that was different and weird without being the nerd. So many times the character that’s different in the story is typecast as being the nerd. And there are things that she definitely does not want to talk about.