Walter Jones talks with TV STORE ONLINE about playing 'Zack' on the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers television series.
TV STORE ONLINE: What types of things were you watching as a kid that gave you the bug to pursue an acting career?
WALTER JONES: Family Ties, The Cosby Show, Good Times....These were all shows that I saw and thought... I could do that.
TV STORE ONLINE: How did the Power Rangers series come to you?
WALTER JONES: I auditioned. They saw over 800 people for the cast. Myself and my co-stars were chosen because we were the ones that had the chemistry to make it work.
TV STORE ONLINE: I've talked with other Power Rangers about this, so I have to ask you about some of the strange social/racial undertones in the first couple seasons of the show. The Yellow Ranger was played by an Asian actress and then you played The Black Ranger, was this something that you too noticed when you were cast on the show? Talking to actress Karan Ashley, she told me that the shows writers would try to get her to use more ethnic or sassy types of dialogue for her character. Was that your same experience? How do you combat something like that as an actor?
WALTER JONES: Well, you should know that in the pilot for the show, the girl cast as the Yellow Ranger was a Latina. That still left me as the Black Ranger though, and at the time it was not a huge deal. Due to contractual details the original Yellow Ranger, Audri Dubois, was recast and the role went to Thuy Trang, who of course, was Asian. Then things seemed a bit odd. The writing was a little stereo typical but over all the racial undertones on the show were no issue.
TV STORE ONLINE: Prior to being cast on the show..... How much martial arts training did you have and working on the show how much did that progress your interest in dance or martial arts for example?
WALTER JONES: I had a brown belt in Isshin-ryu Karate. I had been the Michigan Pee Wee State Champion growing up in Detroit. Then after Power Rangers, I worked with stunt guys and grabbed knowledge from lots of different styles of martial arts.
TV STORE ONLINE: The show in its day was criticized by some that thought that it was too dark for children. Being an actor on those first few seasons, can you remember experiencing such criticism and how if at all does it effect you as an actor on the show, and why do you think that people felt that way about the show in the first place?
WALTER JONES: I just know that kids were emulating the martial arts and some kids were getting hurt. We changed our fighting styles on the show at a certain point, and that's why you only see body blows. I personally always recommended people to put their kids into martial arts training. Kids were interested and they just needed the discipline. I will tell you this, there are a lot of trained fighters walking around today because of the Power Rangers show. So bullies beware!
TV STORE ONLINE: I've read and heard rumors about why you left the show, or why your character was written off the show. Of course, people have read about the cheapness of Saban in regards to what he paid his actors, but how does that type of stuff effect the actor when you're trying to bring a character to life?
WALTER JONES: Well, business and creativity don't always work hand-in-hand but until I left the show creating my character on a daily bases was easy.
TV STORE ONLINE: With the voice over stuff you've done on The Power Rangers, and then also on the video games you've done, what do you find more satisfying as an actor, and is there any true difference in the work in terms of voice over versus on camera work?
WALTER JONES: I enjoy working period. But I do prefer on camera work. There's so much that can be said without speaking a word!
TV STORE ONLINE: Why do you think that the Power Rangers had such an effect on kids of the early 1990s?
WALTER JONES: Come On! It was just the right time and the right formula. Jurassic Park (1993) had just come out then, and then also Jackie Chan's movies were starting to get popular in the States. We were heroes that were fighting silly villains. It just happened at the perfect time I think, and I'm happy that it's part of my legacy. I was the first live action African American superhero! It's Morphin time!
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