It was perhaps the most beloved teen sitcom of the 1990s, and now Saved by the Bell is back for a new generation. With the show’s reboot set to premiere on Nov. 25, 2020, Bayside High has a new batch of students — but this time around, they come from a mix of different backgrounds. Believe it or not, former series lead Zack Morris (the returning Mark-Paul Gosselaar) is now the Governor of California. When we catch up with him, he’s under fire “after closing too many low-income high schools,” per E!. Unsurprisingly, the affluent Bayside isn’t among them. Amidst criticism, Morris plucks out the affected disadvantaged kids and re-enrolls them at his alma mater, where they set about trying to fit in.
In a nutshell, the reboot series is all about the well-to-do students of Bayside checking their privilege and accepting the new arrivals, who learn a lesson or two themselves along the way. Imparting his wisdom unto them all is A.C. Slater (Mario Lopez), who has become Bayside’s gym teacher. Elizabeth Berkley is back as Jessie Spano (now Dr. Spano), Tiffani Thiessen returns as Kelly Kapowski, and there’s even an appearance from Lark Voorhies’ fashionista, Lisa Turtle.
But that’s enough about the old guard — we’re here to talk about the new kids, most of whom are pretty much unknown. That probably won’t be the case for long, however. NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock, has assembled an interesting young cast for the Saved by the Bell reboot, and we’ve got the lowdown on them all right here.
Mitchell Hoog ditched extreme sports for a career in acting
The part of Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski’s overprivileged but undeniably “charming” son, Mac Morris, is played by Mitchell Hoog, a Colorado native who almost became a pro snowboarder before he turned to acting. Hoog decided a future in extreme sports wasn’t for him after he suffered a series of worrying concussions. “I kind of figured out that my body had a limit,” he told the Observer.
Hoog made his film debut in 2017 haunted house flick The Spookies, but did nothing else onscreen until 2019, when he was suddenly everywhere. In the space of 12 months, he appeared in three movie biopics — Netflix’s Walk. Ride. Rodeo., about championship barrel racer Amberley Snyder; Harriet, a depiction of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery; and Richard Jewell, the Clint Eastwood film about the man who was wrongfully accused of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing. Hoog ended up being equally as busy in 2020, co-starring in critically-acclaimed drama The Surrogate and, of course, Saved by the Bell.
In his Observer interview, the up-and-comer revealed that he received some sage advice from co-star Mario Lopez on the set of the show. “He told me to put my whole being into whatever I’m doing without stressing about where I’ll go after,” Hoog recalled. “That really eased my mind.” Horror fans will be seeing Hoog again in 2021 — he’s been tapped to play the young version of Patrick Wilson’s Ed Warren in The Conjuring 3.
Saved by the Bell's Josie Totah is a transgender trailblazer
By the time the new Saved by the Bell debuts, Josie Totah will have been “free” for almost two-and-a-half years. The actress (who plays razor-tongued Bayside cheerleader Lexi in the reboot) came out as transgender in a 2018 Time magazine article, revealing that she felt different from a young age. “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,” Totah wrote. “Since I could speak in full sentences, I was like, ‘Give me a dress!'” It wasn’t until her teenage years that she came to the realization she was transgender, by which point her career was well underway.
Totah appeared in numerous big TV shows after breaking into the industry as a child actor back in 2012. She popped up in New Girl and 2 Broke Girls, and she held recurring roles in the likes of Back in the Game, Nina Needs to Go, Glee, and the Mindy Kaling-produced comedy Champions, her best known pre-Saved by the Bell role. Marvel fans may recognize Totah from Spider-Man: Homecoming — she played Seymour O’Reilly (a classmate of Peter Parker who was murdered by Venom in the comics) in the 2017 smash hit.
Basically, Totah seems destined to become the breakout star of the Saved by the Bell reboot, and Hollywood is already taking notice — you can see her next in Amy Poehler’s upcoming third feature film, Moxie.
Haskiri Velazquez is the new Zack Morris in the Saved by the Bell reboot
One of Bayside’s new arrivals, sophomore Daisy, is an intelligent and “ambitious” young woman hoping to take advantage of everything the fancy school has to offer. She’s played by New Yorker Haskiri Velazquez, who by all accounts had to work extremely hard to get to where she is today. As a child, she reportedly spent countless hours taking the subway to acting classes, but all the effort ultimately paid off — according to Backstage, she managed to break into TV right after she graduated from the Urban Arts Partnership Lifestories theater program.
Velazquez debuted in web series East WillyB, and then made her bow proper in short-lived police procedural NYC 22. She took some time away from the screen after that, but returned to establish herself as a bright new talent in 2019, landing roles in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, family drama The Last Nazi, and Facebook Watch horror series The Birch.
Saved by the Bell is her biggest role to date (she appears to be taking the place of Zack Morris as Bayside’s resident fourth wall breaker), and securing it was a real pinch-me moment for the actress. However, as far as Velazquez is concerned, it’s just the beginning. “I am proud of myself, to know where I came from and to see where I’m going gives me chills,” she wrote in an October 2020 Instagram post. “I worked hard for this.”
Dexter Darden is an all-singing, all-dancing star in the making
Dexter Darden has more credits to his name than most of his on-screen classmates, but that’s not because he’s more talented necessarily, he’s just considerably older — believe it or not, the New Jersey native turned 29 in 2020. He’s been acting since 2006, working on films like My Brother, Cadillac Records, and the musical Standing Ovation. His breakthrough came in 2012, when he appeared alongside Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton in Joyful Noise, another musical feature. Darden is an accomplished singer and dancer, and he told Hollywood Life that viewers will get to see his character, Devante, “open up his vocal chords and let loose” on Saved by the Bell.
Darden’s Devante is one of the new kids, coming to Bayside with a troubled background. According to the actor, the move ends up being a life-changing experience. “I think it’s really, really important that we show characters like Devante on television because not very often do we see an African American young man get the opportunity to have a fresh new start in school where he has a new opportunity to be somebody who he’s always wanted to be,” Darden said.
If you want to see more of Darden in action, look no further than the Maze Runner series — he plays Siggy (a.k.a. Frypan) in the YA films, making some lifelong friends in the process. “We are still very close,” Darden said of the Maze Runner gang.
Belmont Cameli went from 'cute guy' to Saved by the Bell's resident 'man-child'
Mario Lopez’s A.C. Slater and Elizabeth Berkley’s Jessie Spano are the only two returning cast members to appear in all 10 episodes of the Saved by the Bell reboot series. Slater is “a single, childless adult who parties with kids,” according to Bayside student Colt (more on him shortly), but Spano has a son — and he attends her old school. Jamie Spano is the captain of the Bayside football team and is a well-liked student, but he’s very much a momma’s boy. The character has been described as a “sensitive man-child” in press releases, a role that up-and-coming actor Belmont Cameli clearly relished.
When he took to Instagram to promote Saved by the Bell in August 2020, Cameli heaped praise on the people that made the reboot a reality. “I cannot WAIT for you guys to see this project,” he said. “Working alongside this incredible team has been the most rewarding experience of my life.”
Not that Cameli has a lot of other projects to compare this one to. The young actor only made his onscreen debut in 2018, appearing as “Cute Guy” in an episode of Empire. His only other credit at the time of this writing is 2019’s The Husband (a.k.a. My Evil Stepdad), a Lifetime TV movie about a charming but increasingly creepy entrepreneur who drives a wedge between a mother and her daughter. Next up for Cameli is the big screen adaptation of Mark Berzins’ Most Guys are Losers.
Alycia Pascual-Pena has already made a friend for life at Bayside
The part of Daisy’s feisty BFF, Aisha, is being played by Alycia Pascual-Pena, another new Saved by the Bell cast member with very little previous experience. She dipped a toe into the Hollywood pond back in 2011, when she appeared in two episodes of Chase (known as Jerry Bruckheimer’s Chase in some territories), but Pascual-Pena wouldn’t make her sophomore onscreen appearance for another seven years. She returned to the small screen with a role in The Plug, a series about a group of teens growing up in Harlem. But the newcomer has already caught the eye of Amy Poehler — like her Saved by the Bell colleague, Josie Totah, Pascual-Pena features in Poehler’s third film as director, the upcoming Moxie.
Similarly to her fellow Baysiders, landing her Saved by the Bell role was a huge deal for Pascual-Pena. In an August 2020 Instagram post, the actress revealed that she felt “so blessed” to get the chance to work with such a great bunch of people, but she seems to have formed a particular bond with Totah. The two-time co-stars have been chumming it up on social media, with Pascual-Pena showing love and support for the young transgender star. “I’m truly honored to stand by you and watch you change the world,” Pascual-Pena wrote underneath a photo of the pair looking glam on Totah’s birthday. “So grateful for our memories and looking forward to all of the ones yet to be made.”
Saved by the Bell's Abraham Rodriguez is a Baysider and a Power Ranger
Up-and-coming actor Abraham Rodriguez knows a thing or two about cult ’90s TV shows. Not only does he play Bayside student Spencer in the Saved by the Bell reboot series (the kid who gets an earful from John Michael Higgins’ Principal Toddman in the trailer), but the Las Vegas native is also the Gold Ranger, Nate Silva, in Power Rangers Beast Morphers, the latest iteration of the beloved kids’ show.
“Playing Nate has been so much fun and such a different experience than other characters I’ve played and projects I’ve worked on,” Rodriquez, who only had a few minor film and TV credits prior to landing the role, told Naluda Magazine. “Being a part of the special Gold Ranger legacy is so epic! I’m super grateful to be a part of this legendary franchise.”
Rodriquez was nominated in the favorite male TV star category at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards for his turn as Nate Silva. He lost out to Henry Danger star Jace Norman, but younger viewers are definitely going to be seeing more of him in the future. Rodriguez was “super thankful” when he found out that he was going to recur on Saved by the Bell, though he’s already planning beyond the reboot. When asked where he wanted to be in five years, the ambitious youngster said that he could see himself “as a series regular on a major network television show.”
DeShawn Cavanaugh looks like a teenage version of The Rock
His name has appeared on the cast lists of some big TV shows since he made his onscreen debut in 2016, but for DeShawn Cavanaugh, getting the chance to take part in the Saved by the Bell reboot topped the lot. “I am SO PROUD of this show and our entire cast and crew,” he gushed on Instagram in October 2020. “I can’t get over how much fun this was… Being part of Saved by the Bell has been a literal dream, and I CANNOT WAIT TO SHARE IT WITH YOU!!”
Cavanaugh recurs as Bayside student and football star Colt, whom the actor described as “one of the Bayside boys” in an interview with Final Cut Podcast. “Colt is just — he’s a puppy dog,” he said. “He’s a great guy.” Cavanaugh appears in seven episodes of Saved by the Bell, making it by far his meatiest role to date.
The Minnesota native decided to move in with family in Los Angeles so he could try his hand at cracking Hollywood, and after grinding it out as a background actor, he started picking up bit parts. He scored minor roles in TV shows like The Real O’Neals, American Vandal, Young Sheldon, Schooled, and Dwayne Johnson’s HBO series, Ballers. Cavanaugh was asked to play the teenage version of The Rock’s Spencer Strasmore, which he admitted was rather flattering. “It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “They’re basically saying, ‘You’ve got a movie star’s face.'”
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