Parents

Mario Lopez opens up about fatherhood — and 'Saved By The Bell' playdates

Between hosting gigs, TV appearances and fatherhood, Mario Lopez has certainly stayed busy beyond his A.C. Slater days — and the "Saved By The Bell" star says he's happier than ever.

“My wife, my kids, my dogs, they just complement everything in my life,” he told TODAY. “It’s like a team effort now. This is honestly the happiest I’ve ever been. I feel very blessed with everything that’s going on both professionally and personally.”

The 43-year-old manages an impressive schedule of hosting "Extra" and starring on his radio show, "On With Mario Lopez," in addition to tackling side gigs, such as filming a recent Christmas movie for Lifetime.

“I love to be busy,” he said during an event celebrating his partnership with Autotrader to celebrate National Dog Day on Aug. 26. But with family a top priority, Lopez said he’s worked with his wife, Courtney Mazza, to maintain a normal life at home with 6-year-old Gia and 3-year-old Dominic.

“I’m always there for breakfast and pretty much always get home for dinner, but it’s just action-packed in between,” he said. “Sometimes I have to travel, but if I’m gone longer than a week, my family will come with me.”

In fact, Gia is already getting a taste of working in Hollywood as she regularly contributes to her dad’s TV and radio projects. “She likes to perform,” Lopez admitted. Even his dogs, Julio and Juanita, are in show business. “Oh yes, the dogs compete in dog shows,” he added. “Everyone has to pull their weight at Casa Lopez.”

Gigi ready to tackle 1st Grade! #GiaFrancesca #FirstGrade #CatholicSchool

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However, the dad of two is careful not to let the downfalls of Hollywood affect his children. “She goes to Catholic school, so she’s got a nice faith-based education and (Courtney and I) are trying to do our best to raise them right,” he said. “When you’re united as parents and have constant communication, that goes a long way. My parents did that to me and I do that with my daughter as well.”

One fun part of raising a family is getting to do it with his "Saved By The Bell" co-stars. The actor recently shared a photo on Instagram of a playdate between his kids and fellow Bayside alum Tiffani Thiessen.

“I don’t get to have playdates (with the cast) often unfortunately because I’m so busy,” said Lopez. “But I do love when we get together. It was nice seeing Tiffani and her daughter Harper. We’re all getting older and it’s interesting to see how things change.”

Great to get together with an old friend & our kids... @tiffanithiessen @courtneym_lopez

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Given that his kids seem to love being on TV, it was only fitting to ask which "Saved By The Bell" character each would play.

“They’re strong headed, Mexican/Italian, very fiery kids,” Lopez said. “I don’t think we had characters like that on the show! We’d have to create new ones.”

But Lopez was able to characterize his other two kids: the dogs. “(Juanita) is wild and crazy, so I guess she’d have to be Screech,” he jokes. “(Julio) is pretty chill, so he’d obviously be Slater.”

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