Maitland Ward won over hearts (and broke a few) while playing the role of Rachel McGuire on the hit series, Boy Meets World, but now the actress is 37-years-old and all grown up!
Looking better than ever, and making headlines like never before, Maitland has been busy over the years getting married, designing fashion lines, working on screenplays, dedicating her time to charity projects and making appearances in some films.
The Levity Ball caught up with the actress upon her return to the Hollywood spotlight to find out more about her life today and her advice for others entering the crazy entertainment industry…
What first attracted you to pursue a career in acting?
As a little child my friends and I would make movies with our parent’s video cameras. I loved the whole process of being in front of and behind the camera. Creating stories and worlds. As a kid, I was creative, but shy and it gave me an outlet to express myself. I started acting classes, after begging my parents, in my community at 10 years old and did a lot of local and school theatre. They wouldn’t let me pursue anything professionally until my braces came off at 16. I think they were surprised, as was I, when I landed a starring role on the Bold and the Beautiful after the casting director saw me in her acting workshop on my 2nd audition ever.
You were on the hit show, Boy Meets World when you were younger. How did this experience help you develop into the actress and person you are today?
Boy Meets World was the most stable, loving environment for a young person to work in. We never had any of the bad Hollywood stories that so many child or young adult actors have. Michael Jacobs (exec prod/creator) really was a father figure to everyone and made sure we all remained grounded. There’s not one person from the show that ended up on drugs or got into any real trouble.
I also learned comedy on that show, comedic timing. Michael Jacobs would always say that comedy is like music. It has its beats and a structure and you have to master that. He really broke it down for us. He had what he called his “funny scale”, basically if a joke or bit was small it was funny and if it was big it was funny, but in the middle did not work. To this day whether I am acting or writing that always sticks with me.
What current projects are you working on now?
I took a self imposed break from the industry back in 2007. I got married, moved to New York, studied at NYU, did theatre. I also really got into writing and when I returned to LA I furthered my study of screenwriting at UCLA and now have two completed screenplays and a third that’s nearly finished. I’m working on packaging and attaching myself to them. They have great female leads, which unfortunately are sorely lacking in today’s market. I love creating roles that I would want to play that are smart, sexy, funny, kick ass women. I really believe you don’t have to be sexy or smart. You can and should always be both.
Who are your role models: both now and when you were growing up?
Growing up I was a huge Three’s Company fan and was in love with John Ritter. I’d watch the re-runs all the time and he was instrumental in my love for physical comedy. I wish I would’ve been able to meet him. It’s funny, when I was on The Bold and the Beautiful and my character was in a diabetic coma (she was a truly tortured heroine) Richard Kline (Larry from Three’s Company) played my Dr.! Now, I would say I love Kristen Wiig and her style of comedy. My scripts are all very “Bridesmaids style”. I also love Angelina Jolie. I met her once and she was so kind and down to earth. Nothing like the press would have you expect. I love that she uses her celebrity for humanitarian efforts.
What is the craziest thing a fan has done for you or towards you since you have became famous?
I have a lot of fans obsessed with my feet. Not sure quite why. I think it’s because I have really long legs and petite feet for my height. But, I get a lot of photo requests. One guy asked if I could take 12 different shots with “seasonal themes” so he could put together a calendar.
What advice would you give others who want to move to Hollywood and be a star and pursue acting?
Take classes. Do theatre. Make sure it’s acting that you love and not just “being a star”. It’s a lot of hard work and most of it isn’t glamorous. So, you really have to love what you are doing to make a go of it. Also, be an original. Don’t try to emulate someone else, be true to who you are. You don’t want to just end up being a poor man’s Brad Pitt or Cameron Diaz. You want to be you. And that’s always more appealing.
If you weren’t in the entertainment industry, what would you be doing?
Politics. When I was in NYC, I actually worked with Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign and I loved it. I travelled to different cities and met so many people. And the thrill of election night in each of the primaries was so exciting. I was in a lot of hotel ballrooms to see her win or concede. I really like making a difference and I felt like I was actually doing something instead of just talking and complaining.
Either that or I’d be a yoga instructor. Little known fact, I actually am a certified yoga instructor. I never taught, but it was something I was passionate about, so I did the teacher training for myself. I may want to explore doing yoga DVDs or do something that ties in with health and well being in the future. I’m also a really good student, so the thought of going to college for the rest of my life in some fashion actually appeals to me.
What would your “dream role” be?
Evita. But, unfortunately I can’t really sing. But, that doesn’t stop me from singing it.
You work with a lot of charities… Which ones are really close to your heart right now?
I love supporting the Thirst Project. It is an amazing cause, because it’s impossible to believe that almost 1 billion people don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. I applaud everything they do to bring awareness and change to what is a very fixable wrong. I’m also a big animal lover and do whatever I can to help with pet adoption. Locally, The Amanda Foundation does such good work helping dogs and cats find homes. There’s also a sweet organization called The Bunny Bunch that finds homes for homeless rabbits. A lot of people buy bunnies for Easter and so many end up in shelters and are abandoned in parks and college campuses. So, it’s an amazing cause that doesn’t get a lot of attention.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Seriously- The plight of women around the world and sex trafficking of young girls. Lighter Note- Pancakes would be the new Kale.