Saved by the Bell star Josie Totah has opened up about the significance of playing the show’s first ever trans character.
The reboot of the classic teen sitcom is due to premiere on Peacock on 25 November, and is expected to break new ground for representation.
Most of the original cast of Saved by the Bell will reprise their roles in the reboot, while much of the show will focus on a new group of young people studying at Bayside High.
Totah, 19, will play trans cheerleader Lexi in the much-hyped show.
Josie Totah is proud to bring trans representation to the Saved by the Bell reboot.
Speaking to Anthony Ramos of GLAAD ahead of the show’s debut, Totah opened up about the huge significance of bringing trans representation to Bayside High.
“Much of the time when it comes to trans representation, it is told through the lens of trans struggle, or portraying trans characters in a negative light,” Totah said.
The actor praised the show’s writers for creating a trans character that had “all these different aspects to her”, and spoke of her excitement at playing a trans person whose story did not focus solely on her gender identity.
“Even the trans people that I’ve spoken to and I’ve asked them about are so excited about this, and just having those people in my life be happy about it means everything to me, because it’s so needed and I’m so excited that we get to bring it to the forefront,” Totah added.
She continued: “I hope we normalise acceptance of the trans community in our everyday lives.”
In the reimagined Saved By the Bell, Josie Totah plays Lexi, the most popular girl at Bayside High who just happens to be transgender. Our head of talent @AnthonyRamosAH caught up with Josie to talk about the series, which premieres this month on @peacockTV. pic.twitter.com/FargGU8JNS
— GLAAD (@glaad) November 18, 2020
Totah also said she had not met a trans person “up until this past year”, adding: “I felt so alone, because I didn’t know anyone, because I thought that something might have been wrong with me.
“So I think representation is so important so we can let people know that they’re not alone, that there are people like them, and that you can live a healthy, happy, successful life and still be your true self.”
Much of the time when it comes to trans representation, it is told through the lens of trans struggle, or portraying trans characters in a negative light.
The trailblazing actor went on to praise the show’s creators for giving her the opportunity to serve as producer on the reboot, which gave her the chance to “sit at the table”.
“I was so grateful that our writers were so open to learning and they ere open to being wrong, and I think all of those things are so, so important for growth and without them we are stagnant people and we can’t evolve.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Totah spoke about “the pop cultural impact” of the original Saved by the Bell series, noting that she did not see it because it aired before she was born.
“It’s a cool experience, and I think what’s even more cool is the conversations that we’re having on this version of the show. We’re not just bringing it back and doing a reboot, it’s a continuation and we’re having these topical, important dialogues that I think people will really, really appreciate.”