Josie Totah Takes Over ‘Saved by the Bell’ Reboot
In general, Josie Totah is not a fan of reboots. But she made an exception for "Saved by the Bell" - the restarted nature she maintains is fuzzy at best (a good thing).
"Something I love about this show is that it's not a restart, it's the sequel - and it tells a different story while still having all of the amusing elements that the old show had," says Totah. "Even if the actual cast is brought back - but it's through a different lens, and I find that extremely entertaining. It's a much more nervous, funnier than ever, smarter show than ever, which I think is really worth watching."
The 19-year-old actress is on zoom out of her parents' house in San Francisco, where, thanks to a lot of testing and distancing from Los Angeles, she traveled to Thanksgiving to spend time with her family (her father is a lawyer) and her mother was a publicist for The Cure in the eighties.
"I have a very boring family, but they are very interesting to me," she says.
Totah broke out in the Mindy Kaling NBC comedy series "Champions" and in 2016 in Sundance with the hit "Other People". In 2018, seven years in the industry, she was named Forbes '30 under 30 after writing an essay for Time magazine that came out transgender. She has been recognized for her activism by organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign. Acting has always been her passion since following her sister and then (now in the tech world) starring in the local theater programs.
"I saw the films 'The Green Mile' and 'Ghost' when I was five years old. It's pretty early to see these films, but they definitely impressed me." Those were the first two films I ever saw and they inspired me to get involved, ”says Totah. "I think I'm such a crazy person that it was a great way for me to express my craziness. So it wasn't so much that I was very aware that I was getting the mistake - and more likely than would be I keep working to express myself. "
Growing up, her parents instilled in her that it would never feel like work when she found a job she loved, and so she should work at full speed, which she loved to do.
"I didn't even think about the money aspect. I've just been working 10 years and the more I've done it, the more I've found success at it. And the more I've been successful, the more I said, 'Oh, that's exactly what I'm going to do because I'm so happy and fun, "she says." I feel like I found [what I love] at such a young age and I knew how much privilege that was in was so young because so many people don't even know what they want to do in their 30s. 40 years old, as old as my parents. "
The peacock “Saved by the Bell” has original and new cast members, with Totah taking the lead as Lexi, a typical mean girl type with a backstory that is more than meets the eye.
“I describe her as a mean girl, someone who's the it girl everyone wanted to be when they were young. The girl who says whatever you want you could say but can't say and she is everything. She wears 6 inch heels to class and cocktail dresses to algebra two and is not crazy about them. She's proud of it, ”says Totah.
She took inspiration from the high school girl she dreamed of growing up.
"It's based on the dreams in my head about who I could be or how I sounded when I was little," she says. "She's kind of that ideal character that people dream of, but who is told in a much more nuanced perspective through our great writings and storylines."
Totah looks forward to continuing to tell stories from marginalized people, fueled by feedback from new “Saved by the Bell” fans who are encouraged to see Totah up front and center.
“I want to tell stories that are worth telling. I know that sounds blasé and vague, but things that are specific and meaningful to people, ”she says. "I want to have a job too."
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