Girl Meets World's Sabrina Carpenter on Maya's Feelings About High School (and Lucas)

Nivea Serrao
ROWAN BLANCHARD, PEYTON MEYER, SABRINA CARPENTER Finale

Lessons aren’t hard to come by on Girl Meets World. In its second season alone the Emmy-nominated Disney Channel series has delved into heavier issues like financial instability, coping with death and learning self-forgiveness. What is worth noting is that the show's central characters haven't even graduated middle school yet—but that doesn't mean they, or the show's audience, are too young to deal with heavier themes.

Sabrina Carpenter, who plays Maya Hart, the best friend of Riley Matthews (Rowan Blanchard), the show's titular "girl," recalls the fan feedback she received after one of her favorite episodes this season—"Girl Meets Forgiveness"—aired. The episode saw her character learn to forgive herself after finally meeting her father.

"After that episode, more than anything, there were so many people contacting me saying, 'My parent left at this age. I never realized I had to forgive myself,'" says Carpenter. "Honestly, I know so many children who are in that situation. Not even just children, but people my age, and grown ups. It's just powerful that, through a TV screen, we can actually speak to people."

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Friday's episode, however, doesn't see Riley, Maya and their friends facing another big lesson. Instead, the ep marks the next step in their education—both inside the classroom and out: their graduation from John Quincy Adams Middle School. With the current phase of their schooling—and the show's second season—coming to an end, we caught up with Sabrina Carpenter to discuss Maya's thoughts on high school, friendship and what's coming in Friday's season finale.

Maya has grown so much since the show started. How’s that been for you to play?
It's incredible! The thing I love so much about [her] is that she has so many layers. We’ve been able to explore that in only two seasons. That's incredible and really shows how strong a character she is. She's still going through so much because she's at this age right now where she has absolutely no idea what's going on. No matter how confident and headstrong she goes into every situation, she also has a best friend who is clueless sometimes, too. It's fun to be able to play this strong character who is a little bit clueless underneath.

Has anything surprised you about her?
Learning how smart she is... Maya plays dumb because she knows the answers to everything. She's very, very intelligent. She just doesn't like people to know that because she's always ahead. She's always one step ahead of everybody.

What is "Girl Meets Legacy" about?
It’s basically about this [being] our last year in middle school. It was this long joke that we would never get out of middle school [but] we finally have and we have to decide what we want to leave behind as our legacy because we’re the only five children that talk in this school. We have to do something pretty big. That’s something we try to do together as friends. We don’t want to grow apart when we go to high school. It’s a scary place because it's bigger, there’s more people [and] feelings kind of go all over the place. We definitely want to learn how to navigate those together without falling apart.

How does Maya feel about high school? Is she excited for it? Is she dreading it?
Maya is a lot like me in the way that she doesn’t want to grow up. She’s so mature and very wise, [so] you’d think she’d be ready to fly out of the nest, but she’s actually quite content where she is. She knows that all of her friends are incredible right now. She’s very lucky to have the people that she has in her life, and she’s scared of losing them.

What does this idea of having or leaving a legacy mean to her?
Leaving behind a legacy is just leaving behind something that people can remember and take through their middle school years. In this case it’s doing something for all the new kids who are coming into school. They’ve learned how to master school. They were kings in middle school. Now they’re thrown into high school and they’re freshmen. We started at the bottom, we got to the top and now we’re back at the bottom. 

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Riley’s feelings for Lucas are now in the open. Are the girls talking about it somewhat or are things still awkward?
The main thing is, Riley and Maya have been best friends ever since the beginning of the show. That wasn’t going to change whether there was a boy or not. Lucas loves both of these girls so much [but] we have to keep in mind that they are in middle school. They are going to high school, yes, but they are in middle school. Friendship is the most important thing in the relationship between these four or five friends. It’s funny, we’ll joke about the triangle now. You’ll definitely see things happen in Season 3, [but] right now they’re not awkward about it. There are comments about it [but Riley and Maya] are not jealous of each other. They’re always willing to talk it out or figure things out.

How is Maya doing with her feelings for Lucas? Is she more comfortable with how she feels?
She is a little bit more comfortable. After [“Girl Meets Texas”] it kind of died down. It’s like going back to summer camp. You’re in a new place and you always have that crush at camp. I’m literally basing this off of one experience [where] I was at summer camp. [But] I’ve heard a lot of stories from other people who went. They fell in love at camp, [but] then they got back and didn’t talk to that person ever again. I’m not saying that’s the case here. Feelings went all over the place in Texas because [they] were in this new place together as friends. It’s weird to see what happens when you put friendship and feelings in a new place. Now that we’re back it’s just [about] keeping it very low key right now and feeling things out. Time will tell.

Is there anything you’re excited for fans to see in the finale?
I’m excited for people to see how strong [the kids’] friendship is. It’s really cool to see how they come out of [the finale] so confident and on top of the world. They started out as four friends and ended up as five who are incredibly caring for one another. It’s really rare to find a group of friends that good for each other.

The Girl Meets World season finale airs Friday at 8:30/7:30c on Disney Channel, followed by the premiere of Stuck in the Middle