Maitland Ward’s Journey From ‘Boy Meets World’ to Porn’s A-List
The former soap opera star and “Boy Meets World” actress opens up to Marlow Stern about her decision to walk away from playing “Disney moms” and enter the world of porn.
“Everything bad happened to me,” discloses Maitland Ward. “I had diabetes, I was in a coma, my mother had an affair with my boyfriend, I was raped, I was almost set on fire in a gas leak…”
The journeywoman actress—who, with her fiery mane and piercing blue eyes, resembles a more statuesque Amy Adams—is describing her roller-coaster ride of a tenure on The Bold and the Beautiful. She landed the role of Jessica Forrester, whom she calls an “innocent little flower,” at the age of 16, wading its comically treacherous soap-opera waters for two years before her big break: being cast as Rachel McGuire, a college student from Texas artfully dodging the romantic overtures of Eric (Will Freidle) and Jack (Matthew Lawrence), on the sitcom Boy Meets World.
Now, nearly 20 years after her two-season arc on the celebrated teen comedy, Ward has decided to pursue a decidedly more risqué career: porn star. “I thought I’d be more nervous, but I wasn’t,” she offers. “It’s been way easier and I’ve enjoyed it so much more than I’d expected. And I’m good at it. It feels natural to me. If you talked to my younger, more virginal soap-opera self, I never would have seen this coming out of me.”
Ward, who is now 42, recently collected two nominations at the AVN Awards, otherwise known as the Oscars of Porn, for Best Three-Way Sex Scene and Best Supporting Actress. They came thanks to her turn in Drive, an ambitious erotic thriller directed by Kayden Kross that clocks in at three hours and 29 minutes—just one minute shy of Scorsese’s The Irishman. She’s also been anointed the face of Deeper, a high-end XXX brand helmed by porn auteur Greg Lansky, placing her firmly on porn’s A-list.
And she’s only been at it five months.
“It’s insane! At my age, to come in and become a porn star?” she says. “I don’t have a label either. I’m just this grown woman who loves sex. One thing I really like is to surprise people, to shock them, and to get them stirred up. I’m going to keep doing that.
After her stint on Boy Meets World, which lasted from 1998 to 2000, bit parts in various projects followed, including the series Boston Public and a supporting role in the cult comedy White Chicks as Brittany Wilson, a very rich, very blonde socialite targeted by kidnappers in the Hamptons. In the mid-aughts she swapped coasts, moving to New York to study theater and screenwriting, and married her husband Terry Baxter, a real-estate investor. She then moved back to L.A. to continue her studies at UCLA whilst weathering the unforgiving transition into thirtysomething Hollywood actress.
In 2013, she gained notice cosplaying at comics’ conventions—including a female Robin getup at the Playboy Mansion that made headlines—and posting racy photos to her social media. “It was cool because on social media I could be my authentic self, and sometimes, in acting, they put you up to be who they want you to be,” she says. “So I could finally have fun, and be crazy, and be sexy, and be out there—to an extent.”
Her publicist at the time was, shall we say, less than thrilled with her foray into semi-nude modeling. “I had a publicist who was like, ‘Stop putting up sexy pictures. They will not hire you for anything if you do that. Once you get past 30, 35, they don’t hire you for doing sexy stuff. You should be auditioning to play Disney moms.’ He thought he was giving me good advice but it just wasn’t my thing,” she recalls. “I was typecast. I was seen as a wholesome comedy star, and I was trying to fight against that. I didn’t want to play a Disney mom.”
Ward maintains that porn happened somewhat “by accident.” Her dedicated army of online fans—she currently has over a million Instagram followers—asked her about selling various adult content, including nude photos, and begged her to set up a premium Snapchat account. She obliged, and later set up a Patreon. It blew up. After one day, she’d amassed 2,500 paying subscribers. “For 2018, I was the No. 1 adult-content creator for Patreon. And it put the power back in my hands. Studios wouldn’t give me that.”
She’s also immensely popular on OnlyFans, a subscription site where stars provide exclusive content to devotees. Ward says she makes five figures a month on OnlyFans, and her biggest month for 2018 was $62,000. “So when people say she had to turn to porn I laugh, because this is a good thing and I’m making more now.”
Then, she “started wanting to explore the more sexual side of me, and take the people who’d been following me along on this sexual journey.” So she began by participating in girl-girl sex scenes on her premium Snapchat, and then eventually transitioned to studio XXX productions. “My husband has been supportive of me, because this is something that’s in me, that I need to do, and that I like to do,” she says. “And it’s just another kind of performance.”
Her experience filming Drive with Kayden Kross really opened her eyes to the differences between the adult world and Hollywood: “I was blown away. I was like, this is nothing anyone in porn has seen before—and by a powerful female director. That’s something a lot of people don’t talk about: how many more female directors there are in porn than in Hollywood, and the women are the ones winning awards.
Ward is showing no signs of slowing down, either. She’s already filmed another glossy porn production with Kross, which she calls “an anti-Hallmark Christmas featurette,” wherein she plays a woman who seduces a man at a Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting. “I get him to go away from abstinence for the holidays,” she chuckles.
There are also a number of other “insanely-hot scripted films,” including several for Lansky, that are in the pipeline. Most of all, she says she’s grateful for this new stage of her career, and that her fans from the Boy Meets World days have stuck by her through it.
“They say, I’ve been masturbating to you all these years,” she says, adding, “And you know, that’s a feat that I will be proud of.”