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The Real Reason You Don't Hear From Rider Strong Anymore

Rider Strong was one of the most recognizable teens of the 90s, the naughty best friend with the pouty lips and that hair. He added a touch of drama to an otherwise utterly wholesome TV show. Strong brought many young girls running to their television sets after school to watch him as Shawn Hunter in the Disney sitcom Boy Meets World, a cheeky and fun foil to Cory Matthews, the series' anxious boy-next-door main character played by the lovable Ben Savage. But ever since the series ended in 2000, Strong has been less prominent in the limelight. What has that teenage heartthrob been up to for the past few decades, and why don't we hear more about his exploits? It's safe to say the boy has grown into a man, and he's pursuing plenty of interesting activities related to both film and TV, as well as outside the world of show business.

He's been starring in plenty B-movies

Immediately after Boy Meets World, Strong starred in an R-rated comedy-drama called Buck Naked Arson, alongside his older brother, Shiloh. The film has been compared to the work of John Hughes, though the consensus is that it's overall not a great film. From there, Strong went on to star in the horror-comedy flick Cabin Fever, an homage to low-budget horror films of the past, which spawned the sequel Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever. Even Strong himself doesn't think the sequel to Cabin Fever is any good. So while he's been consistently acting over the last couple decades, it is mostly in lesser-known films, made-for-TV movies, and appearances on television series. It seems there just aren't any meaty mainstream roles for Strong lying around, though he did reprise his role as Shawn Hunter on Girl Meets World for seven episodes over the course of the show's 2014 to 2017 run. Hey, at least the man is staying busy.

Strong's been doing some voice acting

In some ways, Strong hasn't left the world of children's television. He's been spending a good deal of time the last few years working as a voice actor on a couple of cartoon series. He showed up for three episodes of Mighty Magiswords, playing a feline magician by the name of Familiar. However, he has a much more pivotal part in Star vs. the Forces of Evil, where he plays the character of Tom Lucitor. Tom is the crown prince of the Underworld and the ex-boyfriend of the series' protagonist, Princess Star Butterfly (Eden Sher). Over the course of the series, Tom has to learn to control his jealousy and bad temper. The character is a cutie, and plenty of young viewers are definitely rooting for this guy as he becomes an important member of Star's group. In many ways, this seems like an excellent fit for Strong, who played Shawn Hunter as an angry misfit who was trying desperately to have a normal life with friends who helped him work through his issues. It seems this kind of character might be Strong's specialty.

Strong has been sitting in the director's chair

In addition to acting, Rider Strong has also been taking some time on the other side of the camera with directorial work. His first few forays into direction were with shorts, including one called The Dungeon Master, wherein a group of young adults attempt to relive their childhood Dungeons & Dragons game for old time's sake. He co-directed the short film with his brother, Shiloh, and these two have been working on a whole lot of creative endeavors together over the years. In fact, the two have been making movies together since they were tiny tots, so it seems appropriate that they're now finding fulfilling work in the wonderful world of directing. However, in addition to making short films, Strong's most recognized directorial work would be on the TV show Girl Meets World. He directed 18 episodes of the sitcom spin-off, which is actually more episodes than he acted in.

Strong's involvement in politics

Rider Strong's directorial escapades have occasionally ventured into political territory. In 2008, Rider, Shiloh, and Rider's then-girlfriend/now-wife, Alexandra Barreto, created a political ad in support of presidential candidate Barack Obama. The ad starts out like it's PSA for STD awareness, with different characters saying they've "got" something, and that they never thought "it" could happen to them. But as it turns out, they're not talking about a disease. They're talking about hope, which was one of Obama's slogans. The short ad is comical in tone, and one has to imagine it sparked political interest in old Boy Meets World fans, many of whom were going to be voting for the very first time in the 2008 election. Strong has kept up the political awareness ever since, frequently posting about social justice issues from his Twitter account.  He went from playing a kid who teased a young Topanga (Danielle Fishel) for her 90s brand of hippie-feminist tendencies to throwing his support behind many causes that Topanga would actually find quite worthwhile.

Strong has been doing a bit of writing

Rider Strong's involvement in televised media is not restricted to acting and directing. In addition to directing shorts with his brother Shiloh, he also wrote the screenplays for those films, as well as the TV movie he directed, Micah the Asshole Ghost. But Strong wields his pen outside of the film sphere, as well. The actor graduated magna cum laude from Columbia University and then received his M.F.A. in Fiction & Literature from Bennington College. His original writing, both poetry and prose, has appeared in various literary journals. He has written for The Believer and Bullet Magazine, among others. His piece for Bullet is particularly evocative, as it contains his personal musings on what became of Shawn Hunter after the curtain closed on Boy Meets World and what kind of life Shawn is suited for now that the relative safety of the sitcom world has passed by. So many people equate Strong with his character of Shawn, but Strong's writing proves that the two are very different indeed. Where Shawn is moody, sad, and impulsive, Strong himself comes across as thoughtful and introspective. It can be jarring for the casual fan, but it's also a fascinating look at how convincing an actor Strong is.

He's podcasting on Literary Disco

Strong's devotion to the written word is not exclusive to only what he writes. He's taken his impressive education out into the real world to create and develop the project that every man in his 30s seems to have a hand in these days: a podcast. Literary Disco has two hosts alongside Strong: essayist Julia Pistell and novelist Tod Goldberg. Together, the three explore different themes in books of all genres, in all formats, and from all manner of time periods, including Edgar Rice Burroughs's classic Tarzan and Nick Drnaso's graphic novel Sabrina. They dive deep and pick apart motivations, cultural ideas, and major motifs. It's a must-listen for anyone who really loved the literary analysis portion of their English courses from high school and onward. The trio also covers literature in the news, such as Vulture's attempt to make a top 100 books of the 21st century. Once again, Strong diverges from the bad-boy, school-sucks persona of Shawn Hunter to establish himself as an intellectual, thoughtful, and very learned individual.

He gave graphic novels a go

Strong and his brother have also dipped their toes in the graphic novel pool. In 2011, they were anticipating the release of their book, Blood Merchant, from Image Comics. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have ever been released, and information about it on the web is scarce. It's especially sad that this project never saw the comic shop shelves because the Strong brothers had already finished writing the entire thing and were merely waiting on some art. The brothers were apparently also writing a screenplay for the same story alongside the comic, so perhaps fans will be able to engage with the work in a different way in the future. While it's not uncommon for actors to turn to writing in various forms, it's less common to hear of an actor who's pursuing comic book writing. Here's hoping Strong still has a chance to get a graphic novel off the ground.

Strong is also acting on the stage

Before turning to TV, Rider Strong actually got his acting career started on stage, as Gavroche in Les Miserables, an excellent role for an up-and-coming nine-year-old actor. After years of television work, Strong returned to the stage in the 2003 adaptation of The Graduate, starring as Benjamin Braddock. Reviews of the show felt the adaptation cheapened the message of the original 1967 film, in which Ben Braddock is torn between a romance with the older Mrs. Robinson (played by Jerry Hall in the stage version) and his attraction to her daughter. The character of Ben—conflicted, morally confused—plays to Strong's strengths as a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks, as established in Boy Meets World. Strong kept up with the production for a long time, but he doesn't seem to have taken on any stage roles since. Knowing what we know now about his literary background and understanding that he has likely matured as an actor quite a lot since 2003, it would be interesting to see him in stage productions of darker, moodier classics from the likes of Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller.

Rider Strong is starting a family

While we might know him best for playing a bad boy, in real life, Rider Strong seems to be very committed to his familial ties, having gone so far as to create a production company with his older brother. In 2013, Strong married long-time girlfriend Alexandra Barreto, herself an actress who mostly works in television. (They got married the same weekend that Strong's former co-star, Danielle Fishel, tied the knot.) The couple welcomed a baby boy in late 2015, naming him Indigo Barreto Strong ("Indy" for short). Amidst all the chaos of his film, television, and literary career, Strong is surely also embroiled in the day-to-day work of family and child-rearing. Strong and Barreto managed to keep their pregnancy completely out of the public eye, so it's not surprising that we don't hear much of what he's been doing between Boy Meets World and now. After all, he seems to be adept at keeping his public and private life separate. We'll have to wait and see if young Indy will follow in his father's footsteps or forge a new path for himself outside of film and TV.