A charming child-turned-teen star who grew up gracefully alongside her fans, Danielle Fishel delighted Generation Y as Topanga, the whip-smart soulmate to Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) on "Boy Meets World" (ABC, 1993-2000). Achieving teen star fame, including magazine covers and a prom date with *NSYNC's Lance Bass, Fishel slowed her acting output after the series ended, concentrating instead on hosting gigs, including helming a season of "Say What? Karaoke" (MTV, 1998-2003) and booking a correspondent role on "The Tyra Banks Show" (syndicated, 2005-09; The CW, 2009-2010). Maintaining her fan base and becoming a more confident, polished performer with age, Fishel landed a plum hosting gig when she earned her own satirical commentary series "The Dish" (Style, 2008-2011), a sister series to "The Soup" (E!, 2004- ). Fans were overjoyed, however, at the announcement in 2012 that she would return to her most famous role, when both she and Ben Savage signed on for "Girl Meets World," a sequel to "Boy" that would follow Topanga and Cory's 13-year-old daughter. With girl-next-door glamour and an effervescent personality, Danielle Fishel managed to escape the pitfalls of child stardom and enjoy a lengthy industry career as well as the goodwill of countless fans, both past and present.
Born May 5, 1981 in Mesa, AZ, Danielle Christine Fishel began her career as a child model and commercial actress before making her full-fledged acting debut with a recurring role on "Full House" (ABC, 1987-1995) as a classmate who pressures Stephanie Tanner (Jodie Sweetin) to get her ears pierced. After a guest spot on "Harry and the Hendersons" (syndicated, 1991-93), she was hired for one episode of "Boy Meets World" (ABC, 1993-2000) as feminist genius Topanga Lawrence, who both intimidates and fascinates her fellow students, including series star Cory Matthews (Ben Savage). So charming was Fishel in the role that she was not only brought back for additional appearances, but soon became a series regular and one of the show's true anchors. At first a brainy-but-quirky foil for the lovably chuckleheaded exploits of Cory and buddy Shawn (Rider Strong), over the course of the series Fishel's Topanga proved to be Cory's soulmate and their relationship and eventual marriage provided much of the heart and arc of the later seasons.
Winning a YoungStar Award and earning two Young Artist Award nominations for her work, Fishel achieved teen stardom for her "Boy Meets World" work, including co-authoring the book Girl Gets Real: A Teenager's Guide To Life and earning multiple magazine covers, as well as enjoying considerable gossip coverage for her real-life relationship with co-star Ben Savage, as well as her noteworthy prom date, *NSYNC member Lance Bass. After the series ended, Fishel underwent a glamorous makeover and became the spokeswoman for NutriSystem as well as a correspondent for "The Tyra Banks Show" (syndicated, 2005-09; The CW, 2009-2010). Although she still occasionally acted, including roles in "National Lampoon Presents Dorm Daze" (2003) and "Game Box 1.0" (2004), hosting duties suited the quick-witted Fishel, who also helmed "Say What? Karaoke" (MTV, 1998-2003) and her own comedy current events show, "The Dish" (Style, 2008-2011).
Although Fishel earned excellent notices for her work on "The Dish," the show, which was very much in the vein of its sister series "The Soup" (E!, 2004- ), failed to attract a considerable audience, a fact Fishel poked fun at in the viral video "Child Star Psychologist" (2011). Although she had begun working towards earning her college degree in counseling, Fishel found herself making the best kind of Hollywood headlines when development of a sequel "Boy" series entitled "Girl Meets World" was announced. Happily for fans, both Fishel and Savage signed on for the show, which was set to follow the coming-of-age adventures of Riley, the 13-year-old daughter of Topanga and Cory.
By Jonathan Riggs