Whatever happened to…Rider Strong?
We all remember Rider Strong, best known for his role as Shawn Hunter on “Boy Meets World.” He was the best friend, the sidekick, the bad boy who dealt with all the crap necessary for a comedy/drama/family series about kids growing up. From living in a trailer park to dealing with the death of his father, Shawn went through more trials than any other character. He dealt with death, loss and bouts of alcoholism, but he always managed to be the perfect best friend. The ying to Cory Matthews’ yang—Shawn Hunter was the perfect sidekick.
Maybe it’s a personal thing, but my favorite characters on television series are always the attractive and quick-witted best friends. Shawn Hunter epitomized this role. Slightly less goofy and more rebel-with-a-cause than the more recent Ron Weasleys of the screen, Strong had to prove that this character was an important one in order for the show to do well. With the help of Strong’s impressive comedic timing and knack for serious acting, “Boy Meets World” aired for seven seasons and is still shown on ABC Family and MTV2.
So whatever happened to Strong? Only 21 when the show went off the air, Strong could have easily stepped away from being a child star to become a real one. He had the looks and the chops to do more than just a teenage series, so where did he go? In short: To college and then behind the camera.
He graduated from Columbia University in 2004 with a degree in English and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts degree from Bennington College. During that time, along with his brother Shiloh, he wrote and directed a short film, “Irish Twins,” which premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and won the Jury Award and Audience Award at the Woods Hole Film Festival. Also in 2008, he helped create a campaign ad for presidential candidate Barack Obama, which was chosen as “the funniest ad” in the “Obama in 30 Seconds.” The ad, “It Could Happen to You,” was the first political commercial aired on Comedy Central. More recently, Strong directed a short film entitled “The Dungeon Master,” which revolves around a group of young adults trying to relive their youth by playing Dungeons & Dragons.
Though he has popped up in episodes of different shows throughout the years, from “Law & Order” to “Bones,” Strong can also be found tweeting up a storm on the Internet. @onthestorm’s bio reads “Actor. Now director. Sometimes author. Whatever: I make believe for a living.” Well, Strong, you made me believe. You made me believe in friendship in the ’90s, and you’ve proven that they can last—by retweeting Danielle Fishel, aka Topanga, in September after a reunion dinner. To Rider Strong fans: Keep a look out for Strong’s short films and his support of President Obama. To Rider Strong: Keep being you.