Saved by the Bell: Josie Totah on Developing Lexi, Producing & More

Saved by the Bell star Josie Totah has come a long way not only as an actor leading the new generation cast of the Peacock sequel to the popular NBC Saturday morning series but also taking the role of a producer. The actress plays Lexi, who like the star herself, is trans and is one of the more influential and popular students of Bayside High. Speaking with Variety, Totah talked about shooting season two, the dual role on the series in front and behind the camera, and the cliches she wanted to avoid with Lexi. "I wrote the character of Lexi for Josie Totah," Saved by the Bell showrunner Tracey Wigfield said. "Beyond being a talented actress and beautiful and cool, Josie is so deeply funny. She understands the rhythm of jokes and just has comedy in her bones." Lexi's a bit layered from being an alpha, at times a little mean and egotistical but self-conscious of her acceptance. "I think about the craziest stuff I'd want to do in my regular life and just do it on the show," Totah said.

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Image courtesy of Casey Durkin/Peacock

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The actress provided an update on the series' second season as a producer. "Before, I would just kind of give notes from far away," Totah said. "Now I'm actually in the writers' room and able to contribute to the stories that we're telling. I'll go like once a week for the day, and I'll either be revising a script or breaking a new episode, which is just so much fun. I actually have worked with a good amount of the writers on a show that I did in high school ["Champions"], so it doesn't feel scary to me. Everyone's super nice." She also recalled how the showrunner fought for her to take on the additional role to ensure the star's involvement. "I was so grateful and excited when Tracey Wigfield told me she wrote this part for me, but I was also very upfront that I wouldn't feel comfortable on a show that featured a trans character if I wasn't a producer," Totah said. "She championed that and agreed that in order for the representation to be authentic, it needed to be seen on both sides of the camera, not just in front of it." The star had a plan on how to confronting stereotypes.

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Image courtesy of Casey Durkin/Peacock

"So much of trans representation in the media is surrounded by trans struggle and negative experiences, which is important to tell to an extent," Totah said. "There are struggles. Black trans women are endangered species in this country. That's not something that you can avoid, and if it's not talked about, it's ignorant. But you shouldn't only be talking about the struggles of trans people because trans people live joyful lives and have the ability to live joyful lives. I also think so much of trans representation not only is negative but typically has everything to do with their gender identity. In reality, we have multiple other dimensions to us just like any other human does. So that was really important to me, to tell a full story of a 3D character that had all these different layers to her."

For more on Totah talking about her humble beginnings in Hollywood, coming out, her role on the Netflix animated series Big Mouth, what Pride means to her, and her creative future, you can head to Variety. Saved by the Bell, which also features original stars Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Elizabeth Berkley, Mario Lopez, and Tiffani Thiessen, is available to stream on Peacock. You can check out our interviews with Dexter Darden and Haskiri Velazquez.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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