Former Child Star Was Shamed in Front of Entire Crew on Her First Day

Danielle Fishel faced serious criticism on Boy Meets World when she was only 12.

It's hard to imagine Boy Meets World existing without Danielle Fishel as Topanga Lawrence, but the actor recently revealed that she nearly lost her starring role on the series on her very first day. Fishel currently hosts the Boys Meets World rewatch podcast Pod Meets World with two of her former co-stars, Rider Strong, who played Shawn, and Will Friedle, who played Eric. During the July 18 episode of the podcast, the group interviewed David Trainer, who directed many episodes of the series.

As reported by Variety, Fishel explained on the podcast that she got off to a rocky start when it came to working with series creator Michael Jacobs, and said that he threatened to fire her after one day on set. Read on to find out what happened during Fishel's tense first day, and to see what else the group had to say about their time on the show.

READ THIS NEXT: See '90s Teen Idol Rider Strong Now at 42.

Fishel was cast at the last minute.

Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel on "Boy Meets World"
Buena Vista Television

In the podcast episode, Fishel shared that she had auditioned to play Topanga, but another actor was cast while Fishel was given a smaller role. But after that actor was let go, Fishel was called in to play Topanga, a character who was being introduced in the fourth episode. She said that she was contacted on a Friday and told to show up Monday.

Fishel recalled that she spent her first day trying to slow down how quickly she was speaking, because she naturally talks very fast.

She was heavily criticized by the series creator.

Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel on "Boy Meets World"
Buena Vista Television

Fishel explained that during a rehearsal, Jacobs held a session where he was giving the actors notes. Fishel was told she had so many that she had to wait until the end.

"I had never been a part of his marathon notes sessions," the former child star said. "This was my first one because it was my very first week. Michael starts off the notes by saying, 'Danielle, I'm going to give you your notes all in one time at the end and I'm going to give everyone else their notes now, because if I made everyone sit here through all of the notes I have for you, we would all be here for hours and no one would ever get to go home. So you're just going to wait for the end.'"

Fishel added, "From that moment on, my eyes welled up because, you know, I'm now in front of everybody—all the producers, all the writers, all the cast, and all eyes are on me for a second, and then he just quickly moved on."

READ THIS NEXT: Former Child Star Says She Was Given "Happy Pills" Before Interviews.

The situation still upsets her now.

Danielle Fishel at the American Humane Hero Dog Awards in 2019
DFree / Shutterstock

Fishel said that Jacobs went through all of her notes with her and her mother.

"He sat us down at the Matthews family kitchen table and literally opened up the script and went through every single one of my lines and what he wanted and what I wasn't doing right and how slow I needed to talk," she revealed. "What I know specifically was said was, 'All I know is, if you don't come back tomorrow doing this entirely differently, you are also not going to be here,' referencing the girl I had replaced." Fishel said that she was "sweating profusely" just discussing the situation on the podcast.

After receiving the notes, Fishel and her mom stayed up "until probably 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning" working on her lines.

Trainer called Fishel's story "hateful" and "disgusting."

Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel on "Boy Meets World"
Buena Vista Television

Trainer was upset hearing Fishel's recollection and called it a "hateful story."

"There's many wonderful things about [Jacobs], but there's hateful things. This is one. To hear this, you're sweating. I'm [expletive]. I'm really [expletive]. It's enough to make me want to sign off of this podcast," Trainer said. "I don't want to be associated with anything that that guy is associated with. This is just not how you do things. I'm glad [the show] became a hit … but this is disgusting."

Trainer continued, "Everybody who worked with Michael understood, implicitly or explicitly, whenever Michael lurched to one side of the boat, everybody went to the other side to keep it from going under … The job was—and that's why I hated it ultimately… the job was to do your job, whatever that was, but to also prevent swamping and drowning."

Best Life has reached out to a rep for Jacobs for comment, but has yet to receive a response.

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Fishel was praised for her work.

Rider Strong, Danielle Fishel, and Will Friedle at 2022 iHeartRadio Wango Tango
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Fishel said that after working on her lines, she was given plenty of positive feedback, including a round of applause led by Jacobs at the next notes session. "He gave me some praise about specific things and then he just started notes, and I then got to sit in on a normal notes session. And yeah, there were still notes for me, but there were no more threats of being fired," Fishel said. "I had done the work and I had shown him that I was worthy."

The three cast members agreed that they felt that getting their parts right meant "making Michael happy." Strong said, "That's the problem for me, that's what I remember feeling. That's what I don't think is healthy."

Friedle added, "He set it up in such a way that for now when he gives you the standing ovation, it's like the sun is shining on you … It had nothing to do with your acting. It was just make Michael feel good.'"

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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