Why Danielle Fishel & Ben Savage Had Some Doubts About the Girl Meets World Spin-Off
06/27/2014 AT 08:00 PM EDT
"I asked a few questions," Danielle Fishel tells PEOPLE, about her reaction when the show's creator Michael Jacobs approached her. "I said, 'Okay, so she's going to be a girl and how old is she going to be? What are her focuses like? Is the whole show going to be a love story or is it going to be something different? Is she going to have goals?' It's really important to me that if we're going to do a show like this now, with a female lead, that she's smart and has interests outside of boys and clothes."
But it turns out the '90s star had no reason to worry: "He was like, 'Absolutely, she's going to be very well-rounded – the perfect mix of Cory and Topanga, definitely more like Cory with the neuroses,' " Fishel, 33, says. "Then [I was] very excited."
Fishel's Boy Meets World costar Ben Savage (aka Cory Matthews) had some initial doubts, too.
"We were very careful to make sure the show was something we were all passionate about and something that we thought did the original series justice," Savage, 33, says, noting the new series should appease fans old and new.
"A lot of Boy Meets World fans have expressed a little fear or nervousness that it's on the Disney Channel and is just going to be a kids show," Savage adds. "But I think we've done a really nice job catering to all of our demographics and all of our audiences. And we definitely kept in mind how we got here."
Even the kids of Girl Meets World kept the show's history in mind – despite the fact that they weren't even born when the series originally aired.
“When I got the show, my sisters got me all of the DVDs, and then I watched all of it so I definitely know my stuff,” says Sabrina Carpenter, who plays Maya, best friend of Cory and Topanga's daughter, Riley.
Carpenter and Rowan Blanchard (who plays Riley) both admit to screaming when they were cast. “No matter who you are, you grow up watching Disney," Blanchard says. "You just don't think you're going to be the one like 'Hi, I'm Rowan Blanchard, and you're watching Disney channel.' "
Another perk of working with some pros? Advice from former child stars. "She really teaches us how to stay humble," Blanchard says of Fishel. "She's been through it all. Ben and her were 12 and in the same business, and I think that's the real beauty of it: They can help us transition and she's just really been there for us."