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Trina McGee is sharing why she was not featured in the series finale of “Boy Meets World” back in 2000.
McGee, who stared as Angela Moore, spoke on the “Pod Meets World” podcast about how she was asked to “turn down” her “Black meter” while starring on the sitcom during the late 90s.
“This is some ground we have not covered. I was told, in kind of a weird, off-handed way by a very important person, that you guys all went to [showrunner] Michael Jacobs, and you said, ‘We don’t want her in the last episode. She’s somehow taking our light.’ [That] was the gist of it,” McGee said.
“I was told that after I shot what was the show before the last episode, which was called ‘Angela’s Ashes’ when I left. When Michael announced to me, we’re going to do another show on Angela, I was so happy, not knowing this was going to be the show before the last show,” she continued.
Co-hosts Rider Strong, who played Shawn Hunter; Will Friedle, who portrayed Eric Matthews; and Danielle Fishel, who stared as Topanaga Lawrence, were taken aback by McGee’s comments and claimed they felt terrible that she didn’t express this 22 years ago.
“I remember after we taped the show, I had said to a person, ‘Why aren’t we on the last show?’ Because I know the last show was going to be the one with the ratings and the crying and all the stuff. I was under the impression that y’all got together and did not want me in the last show, for some reason I was going to take some shine or something to that effect,” McGee said.
She continued: “That was really hurtful to me for a long time. To make it worse, people of color tend to look into things a little harder sometimes. So I had cousins calling me, saying, ‘How come you weren’t in the last episode? They just gave you that whole show so that you’d be distracted and wouldn’t be in the show with the real ratings?’ Several of my cousins, my family members were telling me this. … I have honestly had that in my head for 20 years.”
Friedle chimed in and was not happy about the claim.
“Can we say for the record, Trina, that never happened,” he said. “That’s not competitiveness — that’s sociopathy. This pisses me off. This is next level.”
McGee replied, “I believe you. I can tell by your reactions. I have had that in my head for so long, and I’ve never watched that show. I’ve always felt like, ugh. … That hurt me a long time.”
The series finale of “Boy Meets World” aired in May 2000. McGee’s character dated Strong’s character throughout the show.
During the podcast, McGee recalled an op-ed she wrote for the Daily News in which she emphasized that the show did not address that the characters were in an interracial relationship.
Before McGee took on the role of Angela Moore, she stared in shows with a predominantly Black cast: “A Different World,” “Martin” and “Family Matters.”
“Coming from Black sitcoms, I always had to have like a Black meter. … My Black meter was probably down to a two. I remember when I was doing ‘Angela’s Ashes’ episode, somehow my Black meter had slipped up, and I was at about a 9. Michael came over to me, and his note was, ‘Hey Trina, just turn down the Telma Hopkins about eight notches,'” she said, noting that the producer was referencing a character from “Family Matters.”
“I knew exactly what he was talking about, and I did. There are so many things you guys are so lucky you didn’t have to think about.”
McGee and Friedle revisited the comment he made on set to the actress, referencing that she looked like Aunt Jemima 22 years ago. He apologized to her in a lengthy e-mail years ago, but the stars are finally talking about the incident that “changed his life” publicly.
Friedle noted that before he said his comment, he saw McGee come out of a dressing room in a red headscarf.
“In my head, I attached no cultural significance to that whatsoever. I saw a person who I thought was my friend but didn’t know very well, wearing a big, red hat. That’s all I saw,” Friedle shared.
“I was like, ‘You’re part of the cast, so that means I’m gonna make fun of you the same way I make fun [of others].’ I thought, ‘Gonna make fun of her red hat.’ That’s as far as my dumbass, privileged mind saw. So right before I walked on for my part, I walked by and went, ‘Love your syrup,’ and walked on to the set, thinking, ‘Boom, zing! Just got her for her hat,’” he continued.
After filming the scene, McGee approached Friedle and said that his reference to Aunt Jemima was not OK.
“I remember saying to you, ‘I assumed that was like you calling me the jolly green giant.’ You were like, ‘No, that’s not the same thing at all,’” he said. “Never use the time as an excuse, but the mid-90s, I had no idea of the cultural significance of the Aunt Jemima character, any of that stuff. … I had never heard that! I was mortified.”
He continued: “It literally changed my life.”
“That moment was the moment where I was like, you can’t just say stuff,” Friedle said. “You can’t throw stuff out there because you think it’s funny and walk away. You could be hurting people.”