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Boys Meets World was a TV staple in the ’90s for seven seasons. Fans rooted for the love of Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) and Topanga Lawrence (Danielle Fishel) — and the chemistry among the main cast members was ratings gold. But the show’s lone Black cast member, Trina McGee, who appeared on the last two seasons of the series, tells Yahoo Entertainment that she often felt left out.
In January, McGee, who played Angela Moore, tweeted about a racially insensitive comment she received from one of her co-stars on the set of the family sitcom. She revealed Will Friedle (Eric Matthews) had called her “Aunt Jemima” while she was getting hair and makeup ready backstage.
Even though the comment was made more than 20 years ago, it stuck with her for years, and now McGee says she is done being silent. “I feel like I’m always the one who had to squelch it and move on,” she says. “What about me? What about all this stuff I’m taking and ingesting in me, and not really totally realizing how much it’s lowering my vibration, my self-esteem.”
Called aunt Jemima on set during hair and make up. Called a bitter bitch when I quietly waited for my scene to finish rehearsing that was being f’ed up over and over due to episode featuring my character. Told “ it was nice of you to join us” like a stranger after 60 episodes
— Trina McGee (@realtrinamcgee) January 12, 2020
Looking back on the experience, McGee believes that at the time Friedle didn’t grasp the severity of the situation. “I don’t think he understood how I had to deal with it,” she explains. “I didn’t have a hairdresser. All those little micro braids you see, I stayed up all night doing them right before I went on national television for myself.” Friedle did end up apologizing to her after the incident, though she didn’t feel it was “completely sincere.”
When McGee reunited with the cast on the Disney Channel spinoff Girl Meets World, her co-star Rider Strong (Shawn Hunter) brought up the racially insensitive moment and tried to explain Friedle’s actions as playful joking and prodding to get a rise out of her. “When I walked away from that experience, I got pissed again because I was like, What the hell?,” she says. “Years later, this is the explanation for it?”
After posting the tweets and publicly voicing her pain, McGee was able to have a healing conversation with Friedle. Because of that, she encourages this kind of dialogue to move away from cancel culture and to create teachable moments instead.
“He wrote a long email to me,” she says of Friedle’s recent apology. “He said that it was a journey for him since that day that he had called me Aunt Jemima. And it was a journey of thinking about himself, thinking about what he’s been taught as acceptable to other cultures ... what might hurt people.”
McGee also received an apology from Fishel, who explained her cold behavior toward McGee during their reunion on Girl Meets World was because she was going through a personal situation. The two, who played best friends on the series, have a positive relationship today.
I owed @realtrinamcgee an apology for being rude, cold, & distant when she guest starred on GMW (her tweet regarding warm hellos being met with cold blank stares was about me). Trina and I spoke over a month ago and she gracefully accepted my apology. ❤️
— Danielle Fishel Karp (@daniellefishel) June 7, 2020
But McGee has yet to hear from Savage. “I do not talk to Ben Savage at all,” she says.
Yahoo Entertainment reached out to Savage for comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Ultimately, McGee is proud of her work on Boy Meets World and is always touched when fans share how impactful it was for them to see a young Black woman onscreen. She hopes that open and honest conversations will lead to more people of color in front of and behind the camera.
— Video produced by Gisselle Bances
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