Trans representation on TV is moving in the right direction, as GLAAD's media study on LGBTQ television representation in the 2020-2021 season points out. There's been an eight percentage point increase in the number of characters played or voiced by transgender actors.
And Josie Totah has been an invaluable part of that movement. In her powerful 2018 Time Magazine essay, "My Name Is Josie Totah — And I'm Ready to Be Free," then 18-year-old Josie Totah came out as transgender and the world took notice.
Keep reading to learn more about this talented Moxie and Saved by the Bell actress.
Josie Totah is no stranger to exploring gender identities on screen.
Josie began her acting career at an early age and quickly became a child star for her roles in series like Jessie, Back in the Game, Glee, and Champions. And her rising star shows no sign of slowing down.
These days, Josie stars in Netflix's Moxie as CJ, who is able to become her true self thanks to her group of empowering friends.
On the TV side, the actress stars in the Peacock revival of every '90s kid's favorite show, Saved by the Bell, where she plays Lexi, the most popular girl at Bayside High. As it turns out, she also serves as a producer on the series.
"The more we got to talking about the character and her storyline, specifically her gender identity, it became clear to me that if I was going to do the show, I needed to have more stake in it," Josie told Variety about her decision to have a hand both in front of the camera as well as behind it.
She went on, "If we were going to explore her gender identity, there had to be going [sic] representation behind the camera or in our writers' room or on our producing team ... because I didn't feel comfortable doing a show that explored my character's gender identity if representation didn't exist."
Back in 2018, Josie made headlines for her brave coming-out essay on Time magazine. "I realized over the past few years that hiding my true self is not healthy," she penned. "I know now, more than ever, that I'm finally ready to take this step toward becoming myself. I'm ready to be free. So, listen up y'all: You can jump on or jump off. Either way this is where I'm heading."
"My pronouns are she, her, and hers. I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah," she continued.
Ever since, Josie has been paving a powerful new path in Hollywood. In addition to playing Lexi on Saved by the Bell and CJ on Moxie, the actress — who voices Natalie — can be partially credited (along with Patti Harrison who had a hand in writing her) with making the animated Big Mouth funny again!
In a review of the show by Them's Samantha Allen, the author writes: "As trans representation advances and expands, I’m excited to see more shows eschew archetypes and embrace nuance. Give us more characters like Natalie who do more than suffer and teach life lessons. I had no idea Big Mouth was going to deliver a great trans character, but now I’d hold it up as a model of how to do representation right."
Don't miss Josie in Netflix's Moxie and Big Mouth, and NBC's Saved by the Bell.