Danielle Fishel of the 90s coming-of-age sitcom Boy Meets World opened up about a harrowing experience interacting with a fan while she was working on the show when she was 12.
Fishel played Topanga Lawrence on the show between September 1993 and May 2000. She reprised her role in the 2014 sequel series Girl Meets World.
The former child star said in a recent Q&A session a grown man once posed as a child and catfished her.
Earlier this year, Fishel reunited with her former costars Rider Strong and Will Friedle to launch the Pod Meets World podcast to talk about their experiences being on the show as child stars.
In this week's installment, Fishel responded to a Q&A question in which a subscriber asked about who received the most fan mail.
The cohosts agreed that Strong–who played Cory Matthews’s best friend Shawn Hunter–was the most popular on the show when he was 14.
Fishel then shared her disturbing memory as a preteen actress on the show.
“When we first started getting fan mail, I also read them all and responded to them all."
Fisher said she connected with a fan who was in gymnastics, a sport Fishel said she once pursued prior to becoming a child actress.
“I got a letter in ’93 from a young girl and she included pictures of herself in it, and she was in gymnastics.”
“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."
In the second letter she received, Fishel said the "girl" lived with her brother who was "several years older" than her and she described him as a "good-looking" guy.
“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.”
The girl also included her phone number so Fishel could call her.
Fishel clarified her mother was participating in the correspondence.
“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'.”
When Fishel tried to make contact with her, she instead got the voicemail of a grown man, presumably the girl's brother since it was his home.
“They live in an apartment together, but her name isn’t anywhere on the voicemail," she said.
To which Strong weighed in and exclaimed:
“She doesn’t exist! She doesn’t exist—some guy pretending to be a girl, you got catfished!”
Fishel confirmed it was true, adding:
“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!’”
Things, unfortunately, escalated from there.
The man who posed as the young fan apparently began showing up at Fishel's school and told people he was there to pick her up.
Fishel did not elaborate on how the situation was resolved.
Strong called the whole affair Fishel's first "stalker experience" before admitting as a teenager he also struggled with setting up "clear boundaries" with fans.
“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."
“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.”
“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.”