The New ‘Saved by the Bell’ Reboot Announced That It Has Cast Trans Actress Josie Totah
School at Bayside High is back in session! This time, the role of the most popular kid in school won’t be the infamous blonde-headed boy heartthrob Zack Morris. Instead, the role of the kid to rule the school is being taken on by Josie Totah.
The 18-year-old American actress is set to play Lexi on NBC’s reboot of “Saved By the Bell.”
According to Deadline, Totah is signed to join the original series cast members, including Elizabeth Berkley and Mario Lopez, in the NBC Universal’s streaming platform Peacock. A statement by Deadline says that “Totah will play Lexi, a beautiful, sharp-tongued cheerleader and the most popular girl at Bayside High who is both admired and feared by her fellow students.”
According to reports, th new series, which acts as more of a sequel than a reboot, is set to follow Zack Morris as a California Gov. who comes under fire after closing too many low-income schools. To remedy the situation he sends displaced students to higher-performing schools including Bayside High.
Totah’s casting role is big news and history in the making because of it what it means for the trans community.
Totah first gained attention as an actor when she started in the short-lived Mindy Kaling series “Champions.” AT the time, Totah had not come out as trans. She ultimately did so in an essay for Time Magazine writing “When I was really young, growing up in a small town in Northern California, people would just assume I was gay. On the playground, I was the type of kid who wanted to sing with the girls, not play soccer with the boys. Then I found myself playing that role once I got into the entertainment industry, and people kept assuming my identity. Numerous reporters have asked me in interviews how it feels to be a young gay man. I was even introduced that way before receiving an award from an LGBTQ+ rights organization. I understand that they didn’t really know better. I almost felt like I owed it to everybody to be that gay boy. But that has never been the way I think of myself.”
Totah went onto say that she planed on going off to college and continuing her acting career saying “I plan to play roles I haven’t had the opportunity to play. And I can only imagine how much more fun it’s going to be to play someone who shares my identity, rather than having to contort myself to play a boy. I’m going to gun for those roles, be it a transgender female or a cisgender female. Because it’s a clean slate — and a new world.”
Strangely, Totah is set to star along Mario Lopez, who was criticized late last year for anti-transgender comments in June.
Speaking in an interview on the “The Candace Owens Show” Lopez said that it was “dangerous” for parents of children as young as three years old to permanently label their kids as transgender.“I’m kind of blown away, too,” Lopez said in the interview with Owens. “I’m never one to tell anyone how to parent their kids, obviously, and I think if you come from a place of love, you really can’t go wrong, but at the same time, my God, if you’re 3 years old and you’re saying you’re feeling a certain way or you think you’re a boy or a girl or whatever the case may be, I just think it’s dangerous as a parent to make that determination.”
Following the backlash, the actorapologized in a statement sent to The Advocate. “The comments I made were ignorant and insensitive, and I now have a deeper understanding of how hurtful they were,” he told the outlet at the time.
Lopez took a day off of work from “Extra” following the backlashed he received even after his public apology and returned to work later that week. At the time, producers over at “Extra,” where Lopez acts currently as a host, did release a statement that same week saying: “While we have enjoyed a long relationship with Mario Lopez, who we know to be a caring person, the opinions he expressed in this interview do not reflect those of Extra. We wholeheartedly embrace our friends from the LGBTQ community and believe they need support and love.”
GLAAD, a non-profit media monitoring organization founded by LGBT people, also weighed in on Lopez’s comments and the repercussions they have. The organization says that experts have long previously discredited Lopez’s claims.
“Medical and psychological experts and parents of children who are transgender have long discredited the ideas that @MarioLopezExtra shared. The real dangerous action is when someone with a public platform uses bad science to speak against a vulnerable group of children.”
Here’s hoping Lopez behaves appropriately on set while working with his new co-star.