"Danielle, I think, hates me," says the actress-turned-porn star as she shares where she stands with her former costars now.
Maitland Ward had a complicated relationship with feeling "sexualized" filming "Boy Meets World" -- calling out a disconnect between how her on-screen character was written and how she felt she was allowed to act off-set.
The actress starred as Rachel McGuire on the series from 1998 until its finale in 2000, before appearing in "White Chicks" and starting to dive headfirst into the adult entertainment business, becoming one of its top stars. While she's clearly comfortable with and feels empowered showing off her body now, that was the source of some "very confusing" messaging back in the day while working on the sitcom.
TooFab spoke with Ward about her experience on the TGIF staple, which she opens up about in more detail in her upcoming memoir, "Rated X: How Porn Liberated Me from Hollywood." She said going back to watch some of the old episodes of the show "was the most mind-blowing thing," as she realized just "how sexualized" she saw her character now.
"One of my first things, we had a food fight where I'm rubbing my feet on Will Friedle's face. We're rolling around in marinara sauce and beating them with a big baguette. Someone in the offices at 'Boy Meets World' and Disney had a foot fetish and food fetish," she said. "Having been in porn, I can recognize that now. Back then I was like, 'It's a fun food fight.' Someone wanted to see my feet on his face."
Ward believes her character was seen as the "sexy" one and sometimes just felt like a "prop" on set, writing that she felt she "needed to be compliant when they wanted to use my body as a story point," but was unable to dress or behave similarly in real life.
"At the time, I just thought it was my job and that's what I had to do and I thought I was being a good actress and performer to go along with whatever was given to me. I didn't realize at the the time, how sexualized it was and there was something that felt devaluing to me because I always felt like I was nervous about my body, I wanted to be sexy to everyone, especially the producers and stuff, but if I was too sexy I would be berated for it," she said.
With a laugh, she added that "too sexy" at the time simply meant she wanted to wear a crop top. "It wasn't like I was walking around naked on set," she quipped.
"But it was very confusing because I was wearing lingerie on the show, but then if I was wearing a crop top or something, they would be like, 'You look crazy, you're going to ruin the image of the show,'" she continued. "I felt very uncomfortable with my body in that way because I felt like, okay, I have to use it to be sexy in order to do well at my work and to keep my job going as a star of the show, but on the other hand, I can't do that in my real life. I have to walk this line that they drew for me. They always wanted to have me walking that line."
She believes that even after her time on the show wrapped, she was still expected by some to walk that line "for the rest of your life." Ward felt that was "especially" expected from series creator and executive producer Michael Jacobs -- and part of the reason she didn't return for "Girl Meets World," the sequel series that ran from 2014-2017.
"And as soon as I walked away from that line, they were like, 'No, you're not going to be any part of Girl Meets World,'" she said, adding that it was "a two-way street" decision for her to not reprise her role on the show.
"I was having trouble with it. I didn't want to play a one-note appearance where I come on and it's silly," she explained, adding that she didn't really like how Disney "handled the show" overall. "'Boy Meets World' was a brilliant show back in the day. Disney Channel, they were having a lot of trouble with characters. It wasn't anything like, I felt, like the original one."
"I didn't want to [do it] , but I know Michael Jacobs did not want me back because I was out there with this sexy image," she continued, adding that she wasn't even doing porn at the time but instead was making headlines for her sexy cosplay at events like Comic-Con.
"People say, 'Oh, Disney didn't want you back because of porn' and I'm like, 'That was so far before porn.' I was just dressing in bikinis on like Instagram," she continued. "But they didn't like that I was stepping out of that box or any sort of deviation from what you were. So, yes, two-way street and, to this day, its weird because we're never spoken about it being Michael Jacobs but it's like this unspoken truth between us, I know it."
TooFab has reached out to an attorney for Jacobs for comment.
When asked where she stands with the rest of the cast now and whether she's had conversations about possibly appearing on Will Friedle and Danielle Fishlel's "Boy Meets World" rewatch podcast, Ward made it clear she's definitely closer with one of them than the other.
"I have to say, Will is amazing. Will has called me, he's kept in touch with me, he tells me he supports me -- and he says he won't watch anything I do because I'm a sister to him -- but Danielle I think hates me," she said. "It's a very weird relationship with Danielle because I haven't spoken to her at all and she barely spoke to me when I was at the set of 'Girl Meets World' [for a reunion before the show started filming]."
"We didn't have any beef, we didn't have any falling out or anything, she came to my wedding, we were friends, she was amazing and we have a great picture of us I cherish. But after that she just did not want anything to do with me, she did not invite me to her wedding," Ward continued. "I wrote her a note before her wedding, even though she didn't invite me, I just wanted to write her a note, and no response."
Ward believes Fishel simply "doesn't like anything that I do," referring to her work. That being said, she added nobody in the cast, has ever "berated" her about her profession, though they've "never really talked about it" either.
She also said Friedle has invited her to do the podcast and she would love to not only take him up on the offer, but smooth over whatever's going on with Danielle.
In a statement to TooFab, Fishel said, "I went to Maitland's wedding in 2006 and unfortunately never received a note from her after. I'm unaware of any issues between us and when we asked her months ago if she would come on the podcast, she agreed. I can't wait to catch up with her."