Jen Juneau
August 19, 2015 8:31 am

It’s no secret that we’re obsessed with Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World, the Emmy-nominated spin-off of our collective ’90s TGIF fave, Boy Meets World. In fact, I haven’t missed an episode since the show, now in its second season, began last year. Yes, I’m a grown lady. Yes, I know the protagonists are in middle school. No, I do not caaaare. Anything related to Boy Meets World is going to be in my life.

I went in cautiously optimistic, though, for a couple of reasons. First, the last time I got excited about a TV show based on something I loved from the ’90s, it turned out to be great – and was promptly canceled after the first season. The TV gods had broken my trust. And secondly, I feel like sometimes sequels and spin-offs either try TOO hard to be like the original to the point where it feels forced, or they don’t try hard enough. A recent exception to this rule has been Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp, which truly felt like it picked up from where the 2001 film left off with everything from the chemistry between Ben (Bradley Cooper) and McKinley (Michael Ian Black) to, well, Paul Rudd’s face.

Girl Meets World is also a great example of a spin-off that truly works – a show that is similar enough to the original to please its fans without being too forced and cheesy, while also cementing its own unique place in pop-culture history. In my opinion, this is due in part to the return of Michael Jacobs and April Kelly, the creators of Boy Meets World – but maybe even more so to the casting of 13-year-old Rowan Blanchard in the lead role of Riley Matthews, the daughter of Cory and Topanga Matthews.

But along with her acting skills, Rowan has a lot going for her – and the rest of the world, just by her being a part of it. Here are a few reasons Rowan Blanchard is the star of this week’s #WCW (or rather, #GCW)!

She portrays the offspring of Cory and Topanga perfectly

Rowan took her job as the daughter of Cory and Topanga Matthews very seriously from the get-go, watching all the episodes of the original Boy Meets World series before even beginning to shoot Girl Meets World. And get this: Her favorite character on the show was Mr. Feeny. Be still, our hearts!

And her dedication is obvious. In Girl Meets World, Rowan strikes the perfect balance between Cory’s kindness, eccentricity, and propensity for freak-out moments and Topanga’s ambition, typical teenage-girl confusion, and dedication to making the world a better place. And she somehow does it while also fitting the mold of a 2010s Disney Channel darling (with her own unique spin, of course).

She is a big advocate for women’s rights (and human kindness in general)

Rowan often encourages conversations about the importance of supporting women’s rights, having even spoken about gender equality at the UN Women U.S. National Committee 2015 Annual Conference this past June. She’s a huge advocate of #HeForShe as well, and a fan of lifting her fellow humans up in general as opposed to wasting time bullying or otherwise tearing each other down.

Rowan also regularly recognizes the struggles of those around her on social media and takes time to post photos and stories of amazing women who inspire her, such as Malala Yousafzai and Marilyn Mosby. In a world where most teenage kids’ Instagram accounts are filled with selfies (which is totally OK, too!), her effort in encouraging important-yet-tough conversations is such a beautiful thing to see.

She has pretty great taste in fashion and music, but also geeks out like the rest of us

Rowan regularly posts photos of some of her pop-culture inspirations – and they’re the classics! These include Audrey Hepburn and The Beatles, which begs the question: GIRL, ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE 13!? At 13, I was trying to figure out which Backstreet Boys poster to tape above my bed versus which to tape on the wall, and how to wear Baby Spice-worthy platform sneakers to school without being sent home or breaking my ankles. I thought Audrey Hepburn was Katharine Hepburn’s sister or cousin or something, and I only knew the latter’s name because my mom is obsessed with her.

Anyway, Rowan also has better style and a more serious interest in fashion than many adults I know, and has even been featured in Vanity Fair. Brb while I cry into my sweatpants.

But even through her beyond-her-years taste and style, Rowan isn’t afraid to get nerdy, which makes her extremely relatable for young women. Case in point: She’s obsessed with Harry Potter, and recently visited my ’hood to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, complete with her very own Harry glasses, Hermione interactive wand (I may have the exact same one), and Gryffindor robes. She knows what’s up. And she isn’t 30, so it’s way less weird than when I do it.

I do draw the line at the robes, though. I mean, come on – it’s like 110 degrees here right now.

She values education, family, and friendship highly, making her an amazing role model for young women (but you already knew that last part by now)

In a 2014 interview with Teen Vogue, Rowan stated, “I’ve been a nerd my entire life. School has always been the most important thing to me.” Such a powerful thing to say in a world where kids are more apt to listen to other kids (especially famous ones) instead of adults, and outward appearances and get-rich-quick tips are so easily shared through social media while the importance of education seems to be buried so easily. School first, kids – right from the mouth of Rowan Blanchard.

In addition, Rowan is real-life BFFs with her costar Sabrina Carpenter, who plays her best friend Maya on Girl Meets World, as well as super close with the rest of the cast. If there’s a better way to encourage the importance of friendship than adorable posts like this one, I don’t know what it is.

She is also hugely dedicated to speaking about her own family roots, having posted in the past about her grandparents who fled Armenia to come to America during the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. She has made a real effort to convey how appreciative she is not only for the opportunities she has been afforded because of them, but for where she came from.

In a nutshell: Someone is raising this girl right. You go, Rowan. Keep doing your thing on Girl Meets World, because nailing it. We’re all rooting for your continued success.

[Image via YouTube]

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