Saved by the Bell star Josie Totah agreed to play show’s first trans character on one crucial conditionThe only thing I wonder is “a mean girl cheerleader with a sharp tongue,” will she be the villain of the show?
Josie Totah agreed to join the new Saved by the Bell cast on one condition: that she was given a voice behind the scenes.
Pink News UK
By Reiss Smith
November 26, 2020
The Saved by the Bell reboot landed on streaming service Peacock Wednesday (25 November), 27 years after the original series ended.
Along with the original cast, the new series introduces a new generation of Bayside High kids, including Totah’s character Lexi – a mean girl cheerleader with a sharp tongue and an even sharper wit, who is also the franchise’s first transgender character.
“Lexi is this mean, fun, aspirational, fantastical character that also happens to be transgender — but it [isn’t] everything about her,” Josie Totah, who is also trans told Teen Vogue.
Teen Vogue had this to say about her…
Josie Totah has been gracing your television screen for nearly a decade. The talented young performer boasts an impressive resume, having previously starred in Disney Channel’s Jessie, Glee, and NBC’s Champions. But in those roles, Josie was contorting her identity in a way that acting should never require. In 2018, Josie penned a poignant essay for Time in which she publicly announced that she was transgender. According to Josie, that essay was more for the public than herself. Her family had known she was transgender since she was in pre-school. It was simply time for the rest of the world to catch up. In the op-ed, she manifested a bright future for her career, writing that coming out would allow her a “clean slate — and a new world.”And it had this to say about being a “mean girl,”
Now 19, Josie's new world includes college, where she studies film and belongs to a sorority, and affirming roles in Netflix's No Good Nick and the upcoming Amy Poehler-directed film Moxie. “It feels extremely exhilarating and freeing to get to not only do what I love but be who I am,” Josie tells Teen Vogue. “It definitely makes my job a lot easier, and just makes it more fun ... not having to worry about everything that came with playing a different gender.” Josie’s latest role is in this fall’s highly-anticipated revival of Saved by the Bell.
At the end of the Teen Vogue article I think Josie sums it up pretty good…Josie plays Lexi: a sharp-tongued cheerleader, the epitome of a Gen Z Valley Girl, and the fashionista queen bee of Bayside High, who is also transgender. In the show, Lexi’s gender identity is not her biggest plot point and is instead treated as a matter of fact, something that excited Josie when showrunner Tracy Wigfield approached her for the role. “Getting to play a role that’s dynamic and interesting and more than what people think about on the outside is such a gift as an actor,” Josie says. “[Lexi is] this mean, fun, aspirational, fantastical character that also happens to be transgender — but it [isn’t] everything about her. That was really important to me and the people that I talked to in the trans community because so much of the trans representation in [media] has to do with struggle ... and that's only when it's done in favor of trans people, [most] of the time [the media] perpetuates the negative stigmas and stereotypes that create the erasure of trans people in our world.”Josie worked alongside Tracy to build the character of Lexi and is the only member of the younger cast to have a producer credit on the show. Josie wanted to not only ensure that they were flipping the popular cheerleader archetype on its head, but to more importantly protect the integrity of a trans character on and off-screen. “It had become clear to me that I wasn't going to participate in a show that depicted a trans character as one of the leads but didn't have the representation in the writers' room or on the producing team,” shares Josie. “It didn’t feel just to me. I told Tracy, ‘I will do the show, but only if I get to serve as a producer.’ She was so accepting and supportive of that idea and she really pushed the studio for me to get to have that role. Getting to play this multidimensional character and actually get to serve as a producer, to the point where I had a say in her layers, was a super cool opportunity.”
“I just want to tell stories that haven’t been heard,” Josie expresses. “I want to highlight creators and storytellers that are marginalized like myself and get to be in things worth talking about... and that make people feel seen.”