"Saved By The Bell" star Elizabeth Berkley is excited about her newest role, an adviser to teenage girls, in a new book, Ask Elizabeth: Real Answers to Everything you Secretly Wanted to Ask about Love, Friends, Your Body . . . and Life in General.
She signs copies of the book at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Barnes & Noble on Rittenhouse Square and will also speak this week to 2,000 girls at North Penn and Jenkintown high schools in conjunction with St. Basil's Academy.
She says that about seven years ago, she began being stopped for pictures and autographs by a "new generation" of "Saved by the Bell" fans, and that through talking to the young women and through a friend who worked in New York schools, she held a "self-esteem based workshop." The concept spread, "and I started getting invites from schools and groups around the country."
In the book Berkley talks about "Showgirls" - the cult classic that featured Berkley, shortly after "Saved by the Bell," playing a stripper-turned-showgirl in Las Vegas - and how she drew inspiration from the many harsh critics of the film.
"It was brutally difficult when it came out," Berkley said. "It's really hard to have your head handed to you on a national level when you're 21. But one of the things I say is, 'Never give up on yourself.' I was 21 and the world was telling me I should give up on myself.
"Most girls in adolescence feel like nobody else is going through what they are, but there are a lot of shared experiences, no matter what socioeconomic lines," Berkley said. Her book is divided into five categories - body image, goal-setting, friendship, family and identity - and her advice is culled from private sessions that she has held with thousands of girls in schools across the country.
"This generation doesn't know their girlfriends' handwriting," said Berkley, whose book includes handwritten notes that girls handed her at events nationwide. The book was designed by Paul Kepple and Ralph Geroni, of local firm HeadCase Design. Berkley communicated with them by phone and online but is looking forward to meeting them while she's in town.
"Before it took a lot of time for a rumor to travel," Berkley said, but now sexted pictures can spread like wildfire. "As an actress, ups and downs are public. For these girls it's in the hallways of their school."