Alycia Pascual-Peña was only 3 years old when she started working in the entertainment industry, and she couldn’t be prouder of all she’s accomplished.
Especially now, as she looks back on everything while celebrating the release of the Saved by the Bell revival, currently available to stream via Peacock. In the comedy, the 21-year-old plays Aisha Garcia, who, along with her best friend Daisy Jimenez (Haskiri Velasquez), is now a freshly minted Bayside Tiger after being transferred due to the controversial closure of high schools in working-class neighborhoods by Governor Zack Morris (Marc-Paul Gosselaar).
Pascual-Peña beams with pride as she talks about Aisha, an aspiring Afro-Latina football star who is everything she would have liked to see in characters when she was growing up. But it’s never too late and she’s ready to be a game-changer for future generations.
“Playing Aisha is one of the biggest moments of my career because of what she will mean to so many young Afro-Latinas, who like me grew up with almost no representation in the media,” he said. she told EW. “I know what it’s like to deal with fading when people refuse to make room for you. I always knew I wanted to be an artist, so that I could improve the stories that were being told about our communities. For too long, Latino and Black communities have grown used to seeing stories about us that have not celebrated or uplifted us. I pray for Aisha’s character justice and people feel motivated and inspired after watching the ’emission. “
With Aisha leading the boys’ football team, Pascual-Peña worked closely with Saved by the Bell OG, Mario lopez, who is now the school’s football coach. Already a fan of her work thanks to reruns of the original, she credits both Lopez and her costar Alouette Voorhies for inspiring her.
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“Mario was one of the most notable representations of the Latino community on such an important show,” she explains. “I grew up watching it on reruns and I turned to Slater and Lisa Turtle because they looked like me and looked like me. I knew they came from families like me. Finding out I was going to be in a show with them It was an honor. Especially with Mario playing my trainer and working so closely with him. We are two Latinos who look so different but come from similar heritages and we talk about it all the time. “
When Aisha first arrives at Bayside, she meets her Bayside pal, Jamie Spano (Belmont Cameli), and crushes hard. The two are going to have a relationship that falls apart after Jamie proposed after he and his friends serenaded her with Another Bad Creation hit, “Iesha.” Natch.
They go their separate ways and before the end of the season, Aisha sees him kissing another girl. She was heartbroken then, but does she have any regrets now?
“Aisha had a hell of a trip to this new school, a lot of things were happening for her at the same time,” says Pascual-Peña. “For a lot of people going through the high school experience, they have romantic relationships. Not me personally, but a lot of people do. I think through that relationship, she learned a lot about herself. She knew. that she was not ready for what he wants and she stays true to herself. She has learned the implicit biases she has due to her higher socioeconomic status. “
She adds, “As for the regrets about their breakup, I think she feels it to some extent. She is questioning herself and learning to deal with the interpersonal relationships in her life. She knows she cares about it. Jamie in a way she doesn’t care about her other peers and she’s trying to figure it all out now.It’s also complex because he’s a teammate and she wants to be a successful athlete. I have to mention that filming this proposal scene was so much fun! It was just full of craziness and ridicule that makes this show such a success. Even when that camera wasn’t rolling, I was dancing on my own. “