Josie Totah is a bit of a legend. The California native has been acting since she was about 10, appearing in episodes of New Girl, Glee, and both Kroll Show and Big Mouth. She played influencer icon Lexi on Peacock’s excellent Saved By The Bell reboot, and is set to star in The Buccaneers, a new period drama due out sometime early next year on Apple TV+.
Totah is also an outspoken LGBTQ+ activist, having come out as a trans woman in 2018. She’s brought her own lived experience into her roles, and it’s something she’s more than willing to talk about on her brand new podcast, Dare We Say, which just launched on the Crooked Media network.
Totah is co-hosting the pod alongside Saved By The Bell buddy Alycia Pascual-Peña and their friend Yasmine Hamady, and told People that the idea to do one came from the trio’s “hours-long, extensive conversations on everything that was happening in the world, in pop culture, in politics and just human rights.” They loved their chats and hoped others would too.
Below, Totah shares her thoughts on podcast-appropriate clothing, Los Angeles thrift culture, and the Saved By The Bell look she coveted the most.
What She Wears Behind the Podcast Mic
“Because I’m filming abroad, I’ve been doing my podcasting remotely. I definitely feel like I was more pressured to come in with a cute outfit when I was doing it in person with the girls because they always know how to pull a new look. But now that they’re in the studio and I’m doing it satellite, I feel like I can dress ugly from the waist down. They’re still probably having fashion wars.”
How She Decided What to Wear For the Dare We Say Promo
“We’re so grateful to our podcasting marketing team because they came up with so many different themes for our rollout. One of them was a very fabulous and intelligent idea of a modernized Victorian era picture with three women sort of laying on each other. It’s so cool. I’m doing a television show right now that takes place in the Victorian era, too, so it is like a nod to that because I’m wearing corsets every single day now.”
What She Wears While Flying the Friendly Skies
“I’m comfort over style when it comes to traveling. Now that I’m here, though, it is a very interesting world, being in the United Kingdom and seeing how they dress differently. I definitely can get away with a lot more in L.A. than I can here, that’s for sure.”
How She Defines Her Personal Style
“I just got a new stylist in the last eight months or so. When I was dating around trying to find a stylist, we bonded by just connecting about the energy of clothes. It’s less about what the clothes are themselves and more about the story that they tell.
I am such a versatile dresser. Some days I’ll wake up feeling like a sexy mother of three who lives on the East Coast and hasn’t seen my husband in weeks but I’m not complaining about it because I might have a pill addiction. Other days, I’m the best friend of a pop star or a hip-hop star and I’m in street attire and wearing baggy jeans and tight crop tops. It just depends on my mood.”
The One Outfit That Makes Her Feel Most Herself
“I felt very empowered in a very baggy T-shirt and sneakers, and then also very empowered barely wearing a single piece of clothing, like just having a little cloth to cover my private areas. It’s just a matter of my state of mind.”
She Loves a Multiple
“In high school, I wore the same pair of Lacoste sneakers every single day. I had seven pairs of the same white sneakers. I also buy a ton of flared leggings. I have like 10 pairs in 10 different colors.”
Her Favorite Saved by the Bell Look Was a Classic
“I think my favorite outfit I’ve ever worn was an outfit from Saved By The Bell. I think it was episode 10 of season one. It was a giant purple lace jacket, tiny purple shorts, and a purple crop top. That was so fun. I love a monochromatic look.
There was also a Zara dress that I wore on Saved By The Bell that I actually was obsessed with, because we filmed part of season one before the pandemic and the other part after the pandemic. I was like, ‘I love this dress. I feel like it could be in forever,’ but then that accidentally manifested. A year later I was still filming in the same dress. Now, I wouldn’t be caught dead in it.”
She’s Leaning Into the Thrifting Life
“I’m growing into becoming more of a thrifter in the U.K., because there’s a ton of charity shops. And I think in L.A., the vintage shops are kind of like fake thrift stores. They’re designer stores, basically. I wouldn’t consider those to be thrift stores.
I think I’m getting better at thrifting, though I definitely will lose patience. I have to make a day out of it or a moment out of it, and then I’m happy and don’t have anxiety. It only works if I haven’t had too much coffee and I have enough time to be patient.”
The Celebs Whose Style She Most Admires
“Zendaya is a template for fashion, I think. I love Zoe Kravitz and my Palestinian queen and sister Bella Hadid.
I’m inspired by a lot of people, and I think it’s difficult because we’re in such a trend-based world now so you have to figure out how to maintain your own style. Those people, even if they play against or with the trends, they also know how to invent some new things, which is good and fun.”
KIT KARZEN / DESIGN BY TIANA CRISPINO
How She Crafts Her Red Carpet Looks
“I have an amazing stylist, Amanda Lim, who is so wonderful. Up until the past eight months or so I haven’t really been that concerned with what I wear outside. That’s in large part because I started acting at such a young age so red carpets were just my after school activities. They weren’t these moments where I had to showcase my personal style or my fashion.
Amanda has done a really great job of introducing me to new designers, too. It’s just a conversation between ‘What am I going to feel most beautiful in?’ and also, ‘What story are we telling?’ We’ve gotten really lucky and I’ve been able to work with really great designers like Bach Mai for the GLAAD [Media] Awards. He was the designer who dressed the first trans person in Vogue, which we thought was really apt for that type of awards show.
Anytime we can make something mean something and work with someone we agree with on a values level, that’s always fun, too. Aside from that, it’s just what I feel the most hot in and what I want to wear outside.”
On the Precious Hand-Me-Down That Wasn’t
“At one point, my mom gave me what she said was a David Yurman bracelet. I was in my sophomore year of college and I had one roommate who was a designer queen. She was looking at my stuff, and she was like, ‘Where did you get this fake David Yurman?’ I was so embarrassed. My mom had bamboozled me.”
Her First Big Designer Splurge
“When I was going to be on the Wendy Williams Show, that is when I was like, ‘I need to get a pair of really nice shoes so that I can have a good shoe cam moment.’ I think I was a sophomore or junior and I took all my high school friends to the Topanga mall. We went to the Louis Vuitton store, and they were so rude to us. Then we went over to Gucci, where we were treated like royalty. We were like, ‘We only want to support Gucci now,’ and I bought a very overpriced pair of sparkly shoes that I wore to school every single day after that.”