At a young age, Danielle Fishel landed an acting role on what would become a major popular teen sitcom and that would pretty much define her Hollywood stardom. At the age of 12, she was cast as Topanga Lawrence-Matthews on the ABC network television sitcom Boy Meets World, and she played the role for a total of seven seasons.
Fishel's character was originally written as a guest-starring role; however, after a successful first year, Topanga was a recurring character on the hit teen show. If you watched the show from the early '90s until its final season in 2000, you know that Topanga played the love interest to protagonist Cory Matthews, who transformed from somewhat of an outcast and grew up to become an intelligent woman that all the boys watching on their televisions swooned for.
Ever since Boy Meets World ended, Fishel went on to the grace covers of magazines and appeared in films and TV shows. She later reprised her role as Topanga on the show's successor, Girl Meets World, which lasted from 2014-2017. Kids of the '90s basically grew up watching Fishel, and we learned earlier this year that she's expecting her first baby with husband Jensen Karp!
Let's go back in time and show you 20 photos of your favorite Boy Meets World character and see just how she's grown up since her days starring as Topanga.
20 Danielle Fishel Gets Discovered At The Age Of 10
Danielle Fishel was born on May 5, 1981, in Mesa, Arizona, and at the age of ten, would have her life changed forever. In 1991, Fishel was discovered at a community theater where she was performing The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan. Before she would star in one of the most popular teen sitcoms, Fishel lent her voice on many commercials, including several as a Barbie Girl for Mattel. Soon after, she would find herself in small acting roles, appearing on two episodes of the hit show Full House, starring as a girl named Jennifer, and a small role on Harry and the Hendersons, playing a girl named Jessica.
19 Fishel's Small Role On Boy Meets World Would Become A Recurring One
When Fishel was 12-years-old, she landed a role starring as Topanga Lawrence-Matthews on ABC's pilot series called Boy Meets World. However, before she became the Topanga that everyone fell in love with, her role was supposed to be minor and originally written as a small part. After an accomplished first year for the show, production decided to keep Fishel and she became a regular. Fishel would land her breakthrough role starring as an eccentric, hippie middle school girl who dates Cory Matthews and grows into a beautiful woman who manages to keep her relationship with Cory strong, and we see the two tie the knot in the show's final season.
18 Danielle Fishel Aka Topanga-Lawrence Matthews
Over the course of the show, Topanga Lawrence-Matthews goes from being a strange and ostracized young teen to an intellectual overachiever whose looks easily steal the show. However, we also see a relationship blossom between her and Cory Matthews. The two characters begin dating in season three, and while the show's fans watched the two break up three times, they always found a way to get back together. Their budding romance lasts throughout the show's final seventh season, which ended in 2000. Boy Meets World would end up becoming a hit teen sitcom that was highly relatable to teens and young adults.
17 Her Role Would Help Make Her A Star
Danielle Fishel's star role as Topanga helped her breakthrough into the acting world. Fishel read the script for Boy Meets World and easily knew she wanted to be a part of it, stating, "When they pitched this show to me, I knew instantly this was the one I wanted to do." Fishel was just 12 when she landed the prominent role that would start her work in Hollywood and would end the show as a young woman of 18. The show was such a huge success because of its exploration of real-life issues that seemed ignored in most 90's sitcoms, including racial discrimination and domestic abuse to name a few. We also got to see a romance between Cory and Topanga go through real-life ups and downs.
16 The Show's Real-Life Issues Touched All Its Fans
What made Boy Meets World such as huge success in the '90s was that it touched on subjects that not many shows would talk about. While it was a family comedy, it also showed some heavy stuff, which Fishel, at a young age had to learn about and had to put on screen. "I had never experienced anything like what we were putting on screen. And yet I knew that it was the unfortunate reality for a lot of people. And so when any time you're acting in something and you haven't experienced it personally, I always would just take a lot of time - I think this sounds cliché or simplistic -[to] truly imagine the reality of the situation," Fishel said in an interview.
15 Fans Easily Resonate With Topanga
In an interview with Hello Giggles, Danielle Fishel reflected back on what a strong character Topanga was. "She was so absolutely sure of who she was and who her friends were. And she held to that standard. She never let people around her decide that it was okay to be less than the best that they could be. And being that kind of person, and being around that kind of person, is such a comforting feeling because you know you can totally trust them to not lead you astray. That was, I think, one of the things that's still so special, and the reason why people resonate so much with Topanga,” Fishel said.
14 Fishel Never Regretted Her Role As Topanga
There are many child stars that have had a hard time letting go of the character they use to play in the past. However, Fishel doesn't regret being known as Topanga from Boy Meets World or playing her role for seven seasons because it was such a great role. "She's the character we all wish we were a little more like and that we all wish was our best friend. She's aspirational and she's your friend. And she wasn't intimidating. She was never a bully. She never made anybody feel bad. I mean, she's who I aspire to be," she told Hello Giggles.
13 Boy Meets World Ends In 2000 After Seven Seasons
On May 5, 2000, Boy Meets World aired its final episode where Cory and Topanga say their goodbyes to their families and friends as they prepare to begin their new lives in New York City. Fourteen years later, fans of the show would get to see Danielle Fishel and Ben Savage reprise their roles as parents to Riley Matthews on the shows spin-off series Girl Meets World. According to Mental Floss's 25 Surprising Facts About Boy Meets World, the show's final scene in the classroom with Mr. Feeny was only filmed once, which means it was truly genuine. "We did that last scene in one take because we were such a wreck," Rider Strong, who played Shawn Hunter, explained.
12 Fishel Lands Not-So-Exciting New Projects After Boy Meets World
Once Boy Meets World said its goodbyes in 2000, it would seem like Fishel would start landing promising roles in Hollywood. However, what should have been an exciting time for her wasn't all that it was cut out to be. Fishel made appearances in TV cameos, made for TV movies and straight-to-DVD films. The actress made cameos on the sitcoms Nikki and Yes, Dear and appeared in the film Longshot. In Game Box 1.0, Fishel played two roles, one of which was a video game character and co-starred in both National Lampoon's Dorm Daze films, which showed her raunchier side.
11 Danielle Becomes A TV Host
Danielle Fishel wasn't landing the acting roles she wanted and instead of continuing to star in movies that went straight-to-DVD, Fishel acted as herself and became an entertainment host. "If you're a girl off of a young kid show and now you're 18, everyone wants you to be in their movie and take your top off. And that's just not what I wanted to do," she told My Entertainment World, adding, "So I took a lot of time off, traveled a lot and really figured out if this was really something I wanted to do. And eventually, I ended up getting into hosting." Fishel ended up hosting a fashion and entertainment show called The Dish in 2008.
10 Fishel Gets A "Regular" Job
Danielle Fishel didn't land any major roles since her days as Topanga on Boy Meets World, and her gig as a television host for The Dish only lasted roughly three years. So what does someone do to make money? Fishel opted to get a "regular" job, working in retail at Bloomingdale's. While a star like Fishel working in retail doesn't sound very believable, it's true, and according to her, she actually liked the job. "For the last two years from October to December I worked at Bloomingdale's wrapping presents," she told LAist in 2008, adding, “I worked on Christmas Eve for the last two years. I wrapped so many presents, it was so fun."
9 Fishel Gets In Trouble With The Law
Fishel ended up getting small work a few years after Boy Meets World concluded, including becoming the spokeswoman for Nutrisystem after discussing her dramatic weight loss on The Tyra Banks Show in 2006. The actress also hosted a couple of other shows like MTV's Say What? Karaoke and The Dish, which allowed viewers to see some of her real personality. But in 2007, Fishel got in trouble with the law when she was arrested for a drunk driving warrant in Orange County and was released from jail shortly after. There were plenty of headlines when the incident occurred, including, "Boy Meets World Star Meets Jail Cell" and "Former Child Star Danielle Fishel Meets Cops."
8 Danielle's Nutrisystem Thing Was A Bust
Danielle Fishel admitted that she lost 28 pounds with Nutrisystem, a service that has seen a number of famous people become their spokesperson. Fishel even told OK! Magazine that she felt "a-mazing" in her own skin and she even starred in a commercial where she stated that she missed out on roles because of her weight and then showed a skinner Fishel prancing around the beach in a bikini. However, while it looked like Fishel was continuing using the weight loss program, she admitted that it was all for show to People. "I had a grilled cheese, fries and a milkshake. It was not a maintainable weight for me," she said. Fishel ended up gaining back some of it, but she later stated that she's learned to love the body she's in.
7 Fishel Goes Back To School
Working in Hollywood and having thousands of people know her name didn't stop Fishel from finishing up school and earning herself a degree. When she was 27, Danielle began attending California State University, Fullerton, graduating in 2013 with a degree in Psychology, according to her personal webpage. "After my 27th birthday, I made the decision to stop letting fear be a factor in fulfilling my dreams and living the life I wanted, so with a little encouragement from friends and family, I enrolled," she wrote on her Tumblr page. Believe it or not, during that time, Fishel also became a math tutor!
6 She And Former Co-Star Ben Savage Appear On Spin-Off Series 'Girl Meets World'
Fishel admitted that she was over acting and the pressures of Hollywood, until she received a call that changed her professional path. She learned that she and former co-star Ben Savage would reprise their roles as Topanga and Cory in the sequel for Disney Channel's, Girl Meets World. Fishel put grad school on hold during that time and jumped at the chance to play parents on the sitcom. "I had gotten used to my quiet little life in Orange County and now everything is so out there," she told People. According to The List, the series premiere earned a whopping 5.3 million viewers, however, the show only lasted for a mere three seasons.
5 Danielle Releases A Memoir, Because Why Not?
Right after Girl Meets World premiered in 2014 and received stellar ratings, Fishel took the opportunity to release her memoir, titled, Normally, This Would be Cause for Concern: Tales of Calamity and Unrelenting Awkwardness. While the book isn't a juicy tell-all and doesn't reveal any wildly surprising things about her past cast mates on Boy Meets World, she does reveal that her first kiss took place on camera. Fishel also revealed that she wasn't the initial actress to star as Topanga, but got the job after the first actress wasn't able to follow the director's notes.
4 Topanga Is All Grown Up
Danielle Fishel really showed her fans she was all grown up when she did this Maxim spread back in 2013. Apparently, Disney was not so pleased with the images and it also triggered rumors that Girl Meets World would be pulled. However, we all saw that the show made its run on the Disney Network, so it didn't look like her images had any effect on the show's status. Fans were probably surprised just as much when seeing Fishel's magazine spread, since they have never really seen her come out of her shell quite like this. Maybe it was time for people to see Fishel as a grown up and not the quirky Topanga we grew up watching when we were kids.
3 Fishel And Jensen Karp Tie The Knot
After a not-lasting first marriage to Tim Belusko, whom she met in college, Fishel found love again with Jensen Karp in 2017. A year later, the two got hitched on November 4, 2018, where she walked down the aisle in Los Angeles and had a few of her Boy Meets World co-stars look on. After the wedding, Fishel wrote on her Instagram, "Today I married my soulmate. We were surrounded by family and friends and it was the best day of my life. I also ate 3 donuts after dinner. Unrelated." She also tweeted, "That's Mrs. Karp to you."
2 Fisher Announces Her Pregnancy In January 2019
Just two months after she became Mrs. Karp, Danielle announced to the world that she was expecting. She took to Instagram to share the amazing news with her fans, stating, "I'm eating for two" and calling herself a "walking cliché," buying baby books, baby clothes and downloading baby apps to prepare for her first child. Even Jensen Karp took to Instagram to share the exciting news, posting a photo from an ultrasound and writing, "my baby straight up jumped during an ultrasound" and that "the doctor had never seen that." The Boy Meets World star is said to be due this July!
1 Will Her Future Child Become A Star Like Her?
After taking the director's seat for four episodes of Girl Meets World and directing Disney shows such as Raven's Home and Sydney to the Max, Fishel admitted that she would be pursuing directing full time. She has even teamed up with former co-star Will Friedle to work on a show that will be an interest to fans of Boy Meets World. And while she is preparing for the birth of her first born, do we think she will be directing her baby in future TV shows and movies? Will Fishel have her child pursue acting or will she allow him or her to have a normal life? We will just have to wait and see!
Sources: Hello Giggles, The List, Complex.com, Mental Floss, The Famous People.