When news of a Saved By The Bell reboot made headlines, a lot of people — myself included — didn’t know how to feel.
Partially because it’s often hard to get a high school gang back together. Also, if Mark-Paul Gosselaar was part of it, we’d end up really knowing his fate with his beloved wife Kelly Kapowski. Mark is reportedly back in as Zack Morris, but instead of a class clown, he’ll reportedly play the mayor. It’s an interesting turn.
But based on recent casting news, it appears that his role may be similar to that of Uncle Jesse and Joey on Fuller House. They’ll be around and present, but not the focus.
Instead, the focus will be on actress Josie Totah, who just signed on to play a cheerleader, likely for Bayside High.
This news is particularly intriguing, as Josie came out as a transgender female. Previously known as J. J. Totah, she was on well-known series such as Champions and Liv and Maddie. This is one of her first major projects as Josie, and it’s a big deal. Without a doubt, she’ll be a great representation for the LGBTQ community.
Josie came out to the public in August 2018, announcing her name change and stating that she identified as being a transgender female. She said she prefers the pronouns of “she” and “her.” She wrote a touching article for Time called “My Name Is Josie Totah — And I’m Ready to Be Free,” which explained her story.
“When I was really young, growing up in a small town in Northern California, people would just assume I was gay,” she wrote. “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.”
One of the hardest parts for Josie was that her sexual identity seemed to be decided by the people around her. “Numerous reporters have asked me in interviews how it feels to be a young gay man,” she continued. “I was even introduced that way before receiving an award from an LGBTQ+ rights organization.” Coming out is so important, so you can imagine how she felt.
“In the past, I’ve halfway corrected people by telling them I identify as LGBTQ.” she explained. “I wasn’t ready to be more specific. I was afraid I wouldn’t be accepted, that I would be embarrassed, that the fans who knew me from the time when I acted in a Disney show would be confused.” Since she had already built a career as J.J., and was well-known with kids, it could be tough for them to adapt.
But, that doesn’t mean that she couldn’t come out — especially because children today are much more aware of transgender issues and the LGBTQ community than ever before. And that’s one of the reasons why this brand new role is so important to Josie. She’s still on a show geared toward a younger crowd, but she’s her own person.
According to Josie, she always knew she was supposed to be a female. “When I was five, long before I understood what the word gender meant, I would always tell my mother that I wished I were a girl,” she continued. “I was like, ‘Give me a dress!’ I always knew on some level that I was female.”
That’s one more reason why it’s obvious that being transgender isn’t a choice — it’s only a choice to be open with it and embrace it. And if you’re in the public eye, or live in a community that’s not accepting, that can be difficult. “I’m scared that I’ll be judged, rejected, made uncomfortable, that people will look at me differently,” Josie admitted.
In coming out through the Time essay and explaining what she’s been through, Josie made a point to state that she’s really looking forward to the opportunity to finally play a woman. “I plan to play roles I haven’t had the opportunity to play,” she said. “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.”
So, this role is even more incredible. Josie will be playing Lexi, a main character in the Saved By The Bell reboot. And, it seems like Lexi is one of the most popular girls in school. According to People, Lexi will be “a beautiful, sharp-tongued cheerleader and the most popular girl at Bayside High who is both admired and feared by her fellow students.”
This casting choice is really important. Since Josie was inspired to come out and be her true self after watching the show I Am Jazz on TLC, others may look at Josie and realize that there’s a place for transgender talent on television. It might take some time for some people to get used to, but it’s an incredible first step.
The Saved By The Bell reboot has plans to launch on the upcoming NBC streaming service, Peacock. It’s set to officially launch in April 2020, and it isn’t the only reboot that’ll be on the site. The service is also planning to launch a new version of Punky Brewster and Battlestar Galactica.
And that’s not all. Remember those rumors of a reboot of The Office? If it ever happens, it’d likely be airing right on the network’s streaming service. Deadline reports that it’s the “goal” for NBC to one day achieve. Multiple actors and actresses from the show have already expressed an interest if it ever comes to fruition.
Speaking of comebacks, Elizabeth Berkley and Mario Lopez will also be back on set for Saved By The Bell. “Jessie and Slater are back for more fun,” Elizabeth wrote on Instagram. “We are thrilled to have Emmy winning 30Rock writer @TraceyWigfield bring the sequel to life on NBC/Universal.”
With the cast members who have signed on, this show is bound to be a big hit. Many congratulations to Josie for finally being able to land a role that felt right. She’ll be a welcome addition to the Saved By The Bell family. The big question is, will Tiffani Thiessen come back to be her cheerleading coach?