NBCUniversal’s reboot of the classic 90’s teen comedy Saved by the Bell will feature transgender teen Josie Totah in its lead role.
Totah, who is 18, will play the role of Lexi, who is described as “a beautiful, sharp-tongued cheerleader and the most popular girl at Bayside High who is both admired and feared by her fellow students.” It is unclear whether the character will be portrayed as transgender or a biological female.
Reacting to the announcement on Twitter, Totah declared the casting a “dream come true.”
— josie totah (@josietotah) January 7, 2020
The teen actor’s career began with male roles but Totah has previously been cast in a female role for the comedy-drama series No Good Nick. However, Totah is best known for male roles on Mindy Kaling’s unsuccessful NBC comedy Champions and the Disney Channel’s Jessie.
Totah came out as transgender in an essay for TIME magazine in August 2018, explaining that he had wanted to be a girl from a young age, but only took the decision to transition after watching someone transition in TLC series I Am Jazz. She wrote at the time:
This is not something that just happened. This is not a choice that I made. 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. Since I could speak in full sentences, I was like, “Give me a dress!” I always knew on some level that I was female. But it crystallized about three years ago when I was a 14-year-old watching the show I Am Jazz with my mother.
As I learned more information about hormone replacement therapy, I knew that this was what I had to do. I looked over at her in the middle of the show and said, “This is me. I’m transgender. And I need to go through this.” My mother, who is immensely supportive and gracious, said, “Okay, let’s do it.” Three days later I was meeting with my pediatrician, who referred me to a specialist, who put me on a hormone blocker. From that point on, I hit the ground running.
Totah will be joined on Saved By The Bell by Mario Lopez and Elizabeth Berkley, who will reprise their roles of AC Slater and Jessie Spano. The plot will reportedly revolve around original lead Zack Morris, who has since become Governor of Californa, and his decision to close many of the state’s lower-income high schools that involves reassigning students to more prestigious schools such as Bayside High.