Boy Meets World is known for being a fairly wholesome family show that followed a group of friends from their tween to college years over its seven-season run. But one actor who joined the cast in later seasons probably wouldn’t use the word “wholesome” to describe some of the jokes written for her character. Maitland Ward played Rachel for the final two seasons of Boy Meets World, and while some of her scenes may have gone over young viewers’ heads at the time, the character was often put in sexually suggestive situations. In a new interview with The Daily Beast, Ward opened up about the double standard she experienced as a young woman on the show and explained why she feels she was “used as a sexual prop” by the Boy Meets World writers. Read on to see what the now-45-year-old star has to say, and how her issues with Hollywood led her to pursue a more adult-oriented career.
READ THIS NEXT: Former Child Star Says She Was Offered Money to Keep Quiet About On-Set Behavior.
Ward, who is now an adult film actor, wrote a recently released memoir titled Rated X: How Porn Liberated Me from Hollywood. According to The Daily Beast, in the book she writes, “What bothered me was that I could never get past the feeling that the [Boy Meets World] writers were having fun at my expense and devaluing me in some way—like I was a punch line to a joke I would never be privy to. Wearing no clothes on your own terms is a lot different from being naked for someone else.”
She explained further in the interview, “They were wanting me to be this sexual butt of the joke on the show, but at the same time they were saying, ‘Oh, we’re not doing that—and you shouldn’t be doing that outside of work.’ Looking back, I didn’t even conceptualize how much Rachel was used as a sexual prop on the show—like me choking on a hot dog and Matt Lawrence (Jack) coming up behind me and giving me the Heimlich but thrusting me over the counter.”
As the Daily Beast interview points out, kids are watching Boy Meets World probably wouldn’t have registered the sexual nature of some of the situations Rachel was put in.
“It was for them [the writers],” Maitland, who was 21 when she joined the show, explained. “It felt like teenage boys going up to me and going, ‘Let’s see her panties!’ ‘Let’s see her do this this week!’ It was all their fantasies. And nobody came up and sexually assaulted me or anything, but it was always, ‘Let’s look at her.’ I think that they fantasized about it in the writers’ room, and every week they would put me in a different predicament that had a sexual undertone.”
For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
In her book, Ward recalls showing up to the Boy Meets World set in a crop top and being told it was inappropriate.
“Like, ‘What are you doing?!’ ‘You need to be an actress.’ I didn’t realize how much of a mind[expletive] it was until later on, because it was so conflicting,” she explained.[O]n Boy Meets World, it was amplified all the time, and it got me really confused. When I had to dance around in lingerie and be half-naked and the butt of the jokes, that was one thing, but then, yeah, you immediately step off the soundstage and it’s like, ‘You don’t shame yourself.'”
In a different recent interview with Us WeeklyWard mentioned one storyline in particular that she’s not a fan of.
“It was eye-opening to me how much sexual innuendo there was [placed] on my character. And [male characters] like Cory [Ben Savage] and Shawn [Rider Strong]they were total [expletive] boys to me [on screen].” Of one specific plot, she said “They stole my parking space that I had worked for. Then they blame me and [have] this whole prank war that breaks out. Then they’re going through my lingerie [and] they read my diary. They’re just, like, ‘Oh, we’re cute.’ And then the girls even defend them. It was just really weird.”
She added of her experience on the show, “It was more fun in the first year because even the sexual [storylines] that I did with the guys in the apartment [were about how] they were falling all over themselves to impress me.” She continued, “But that last year was weird … I became too annoying to myself. I didn’t like it [what Rachel became]. My character really had nothing to do except be [expletive]snarky, or sexy.”
Ward transitioned to adult film in 2019, and—as the title of her book indicates—she’s found more freedom in that field. She told Daily Beast that she’s looking to “bridge mainstream and [adult entertainment] completely” and that “the films [they] make really have good directing and acting, and that’s something new for a lot of people.”
She tells Us Weekly of her book, “I know that I have a story that nobody else has. It really is a story nobody has about being a young Disney star and coming from such a famous show and working in Hollywood. Then decades later—really at 40 [years old]—making it as a top [adult] star … I really wanted to tell my story and I really think it would be empowering to everyone—especially women who have been told no so much in their lives.”