Meet the two young Latinas taking Bayside High by storm in the ‘Saved by the Bell’ reboot
Haskiri Velazquez and Alycia Pascual-Peña grew up watching the teen sitcom classic. Now they’re in it, and breaking barriers along the way.
Bayside High has returned to our screens with the Saved by the Bell reboot via Peacock TV.
Many of the original cast members have returned, including Mario Lopez, Elizabeth Berkley Lauren and Lark Voorhies. But the new show also features a more diverse cast, shining a much-deserved spotlight on two up-and-coming Latina actresses.
AL DÍA recently had the opportunity to talk with Alycia Pascual-Peña and Haskiri Velazquez to get a little background on both and gauge their excitement about being on the reboot of the classic teen sitcom.
Velazquez grew up in Dykeman, New York, an area heavily-populated by her fellow Dominicans. She talked about never seeing stories about people from the area who made it out and made something of themselves, so she wanted to become that person herself.
She was always into acting, but didn’t have anyone to support or guide her, and started in a nonprofit theater organization before working her way up.
The road wasn’t easy, but Velazquez was determined to make it.
“I will die trying, because if you don’t find what you like, what you were put on this Earth to do, then what’s the point of living, right?” she said. “I felt like I was put on this earth to bring smiles to people, bring these stories to life on screen for all these characters that have so many stories and voices that need to be heard.”
Pascual-Peña also had a similar passion for acting at a very young age.
“I knew before I could fully formulate words that I wanted to perform,” she said.
Her mother was supportive of her dream and she began modeling at the age of three. At nine, she pushed her parents to allow her to train, take classes and go to auditions for roles.
“I am now a 21-year-old woman on a show, and it means the world. I have dedicated over half of my life to acting and to pursuing being an actress. I’ve always known that this is something I wanted to do and I’m just very blessed to be here,” said Pascual-Peña.
Before joining the reboot cast, both Pascual-Peña and Velazquez grew up watching Saved by the Bell and reviewed a few episodes of the original series to re-familiarize themselves with the tone of the show and to figure out what kind of flair to give their characters.
“We all really wanted to respect the aura and the tone of the original and give people moments that reminded them of what they grew up watching and loving, but also allowed us to usher in our new form of Saved by the Bell,” explained Pascual-Peña.
Velazquez called the reboot a “modern take” on the original, which touches on important subjects people can resonate with while still keeping the lighthearted tone.
“We think the writers did such a great job. Shining light on certain situations in a comedic way so that when people turn off the TV, they kind of want to talk about it again,” she said.
Both are also very excited to be working with some of the original cast members, especially Lopez, Voorhies and Berkely.
Velazquez said she was starstruck when she first saw them. She also said she has formed a close connection with Elizabeth Berkely.
“Elizabeth told me, ‘take my number down if you need anything. I don’t care what time it is.’ I was on my own in LA and I didn’t have anyone. She was the only person I knew that I could count on, so that meant a lot to me,” said Velazquez.
Pascual-Peña's awe came from being in the same spaces she saw on TV as a kid, like “The Max” and the iconic hallway alongside people she admires.
“People like Mario and people like Lark who brought Latino and Black representation to the screen when it wasn’t common,” said Pascual-Peña.
Speaking of Latino representation on TV both Pascual-Peña and Velazquez are aware of the ground their breaking in their new roles..
“We are both so proud to represent our culture and our heritage on a show and on a platform so large. We really committed ourselves to the genuine representation of two proud Latinas in a way that is multidimensional,” said Pascual-Peña.
“It means a lot to be able to represent, and we get the opportunity to speak Spanish on the show. I hope that we do justice to the Latino community, and I do hope they feel represented because that was our goal initially.”