‘Boy Meets World’: Danielle Fishel Nearly Lost Her Job as Topanga
Boy Meets World is one of those amazing, coming-of-age shows which defines the adolescence of an entire generation. There are plenty of men, now in their 20s and 30s, who will openly admit to having a crush on Topanga as a kid. But surprisingly, the actor who played the iconic character, Danielle Fishel almost didn’t get the role. And even after she was cast, Fishel worried they’d fire her and find another Topanga.
‘Boy Meets World’ was an American favorite
In 1993, ABC premiered Boy Meets World, a 30-minute sitcom about the life lessons learned by an average American teenager, Cory Matthews. Over its seven seasons on-air, the plot leaned heavily on the romance between Cory and a smart, sweet outsider, named Topanga.
Although the show wasn’t a massive success during its original airing, it took on a new life in syndication. The show spent many years airing on the Disney Channel, ABC Family, MTV2, TeenNick, and Hulu which made Boy Meets World a favorite for kids all over the country. Now, fans can watch the show on Disney+.
Danielle Fishel wasn’t the first Topanga
Before we all came to love Fishel in the role of Topanga, there was actually another actor who was supposed to play the character, CBR reports. Fishel had auditioned for the part, but she ended up getting a smaller role as one of Cory’s classmates instead. In her memoir, Normally This Would Be Cause For Concern, Fishel doesn’t name the actor who originally scored the part of Topanga, but she does describe her as “incredibly sweet.”
However, on the first day, the director, David Trainer tried to give the first Topanga notes on her performance. But the girl was unable to change anything about the way she portrayed the character.
“He’d give her a note telling her to change something, and she’d do it the exact same way again,” Fishel wrote about that day. “I felt like a little kid in a classroom; I wanted to raise my hand and say, ‘Can I try?'” Fishel didn’t actually raise her hand, but she was later given an opportunity to try for herself. The original actress was let go, and Fishel was told to step in.
“To this day, I don’t know why Michael [Jacobs, the series creator] gave me another opportunity to audition for Topanga,” Fishel wrote, “although I suspect it was because it was easier than having to do a whole new casting call, but he did.”
Danielle Fishel wasn’t sure she’d get to keep the part of Topanga
So, the world finally had their Topanga. But at the time, Fishel wasn’t sure that she’d be able to keep the part. Her personality was naturally peppy, and that’s how she first read the script, but Topanga was supposed to be a calm, flower child.
Like the actor before her, Fishel received a series of notes on how they expected the role to be performed. She took the recommendations very seriously, afraid that she too would be replaced as Topanga. That whole night was spent going over the notes and practicing with her mother, until in the morning, Fishel felt prepared.
At the next run-through, she felt good about her updated performance. But Fishel was also very aware that her job was on the line. She describes the tense situation in her memoir. As Jacobs began with his notes in front of the entire cast and crew, Fishel wrote that her heart was beating irregularly and her palms were sweating. She imagined the show’s creator throwing her offset.
“Danielle, yesterday I gave you an enormous amount of notes,” Jacobs said, “I did that because I believed you were capable of handling them. However, with your performance today, you exceeded my expectations.” He then started clapping, and encouraged the rest of the crew to join in.
Fishel wrote, “Michael wasn’t going to fire me. He believed in me. He gave me a freaking standing ovation.” Obviously, after that, Fishel was allowed to stay, and she became the Topanga that we all know and love. In fact, it’s likely that without her, the chemistry between Cory and Topanga wouldn’t have been the same. The show wouldn’t be the same, and it likely wouldn’t have been such a big hit.