October 25, 1999 12:00 PM

I’m coming out of a funk,” Danielle Fishel confesses. The actress, now in her seventh sea son as Topanga Lawrence, the brainy girlfriend of Ben Savage on ABC’s Boy Meets World, recently split with her beau of eight months, Lance Bass, 20, a member of the band ‘N Sync. “Our schedules were just too crazy,” says Fishel, 18, at home in her tidy three-bedroom L.A. condo. “I needed affection, and it’s hard to get it on the phone.”

At least she’s getting some attention. This month, Fishel makes her debut on film (as a catty cheerleader in Jack of All Trades) and in print (with Girl Gets Real: A Teenager’s Guide to Life). Her success comes as no surprise to her costar. “Most young girls can relate to her,” says Savage, 19. “She has turned Topanga from a hippie flower child into someone who is reality-based. Danielle is like that.”

Fishel, who grew up in Yorba Linda, Calif., with her brother Chris, now 14, aced her first audition at age 10—for a doll commercial—and went on to sitcom guest shots before landing the part of Topanga in 1993. She credits her parents, Rick, a medical equipment sales exec, and Jennifer, her manager, both 41, for keeping her grounded. “They said if my career changed me in any way—wrong crowd, drugs—they would rip me out of the business so fast.” Not to worry. Fishel, who graduated from high school last June and soon will start taking courses at UCLA, says, “I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs. I shop, okay? The worst thing I do is buy shoes.” Indeed, her closet contains an Imeldaful: 130 pairs.

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