A Q&A with Becky G
In “Power Rangers”, the reboot based on the 1993 children’s tv show and hit franchise it spawned, singer (and now film actress) Becky G portrays the Yellow Ranger Trini. The film follows many of the beats of the original story of teenagers who acquire superpowers and mechs (Zords) to save the earth from aliens, but also adds a definite edginess and updates the humor and turmoil. Recently I got to speak with Becky on her experience moving from music to movies, her first Power Ranger memories, as well as why you can bring practically anyone to watch this new iteration of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
What was your first exposure to the Power Rangers franchise?
Well I was introduced a little bit later than some of the OG fans. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers came out in 1993 and I wasn’t born yet, but when I watched the movie of course it made some kind of influence on me. The idea of being a superhero is the coolest thing ever and the Power Rangers, with all my primos, is something that we would play. And everyone wanted to be the red one, and all the girls wanted to be the pink one. I always loved the color yellow, it was my favorite color, and that also kinda transferred over when I discovered Power Rangers, I always wanted to be the yellow power ranger. And so I guess I have this moment of like, ‘wow, okay, I’m living a childhood dream’, so it’s for sure a huge deal for me.
It seems you were meant to play the Yellow Ranger. Although, did you initially get to choose which one you’d portray?
Actually, it’s just like in the movie where the power coins choose us, our color chose us in real life as well. I was one of the last people to be cast in the movie and I went through the entire casting process without knowing the role, which actually made me more proud in the end, to get the opportunity to play Trini. I was on a tour and I got an email from my agent saying ‘I need you to take a self take and send it to me as soon as you can’. She sent over the lines, and the lines didn’t have anything to do with Power Rangers, nothing about Trini. So I was like, ‘this is interesting, I don’t know what this is for, I’m going to send it in anyways’ and so I did. And once I got the call back my agent was like, ‘they love you!’ and I was like, ‘who are you talking about?’. It was the people from Power Rangers, Lionsgate, and I freaked out. And [my agent] goes, ‘yeah, yeah, It’s for the Yellow Power Ranger, to play Trini’, and I was like, ‘..what?’. I totally freaked out.
How would you describe your version of Trini the Yellow Ranger?
I think Trini is pretty simple, she is the kind of person who doesn’t like to admit that she needs anyone, she’s very independent, very self-made and kind of a loner, and she just kind of rocks it. I think when you first meet her you kind of think, ‘man, does this girl just hate everyone?’, because it kind of seems like it but as time goes by I think you see that vulnerability that she does have, and that she’s just dealing with some self-identity issues and figuring out who she is, what’s she’s into and where she belongs. I think as a teenager that’s one thing I remember going through, and in middle school and elementary; where do I fit in? There’s all these different social groups and they tell you that you have to fit in one of them but I don’t fit in any of them and I think Trini’s like, ‘well you know what, whatever, I’m just going to keep on by myself’.
So in the film, much like the original series, there’s a diverse group of ‘teenagers with attitude’ that portray the Power Rangers. This time around there’s actors from Asia, Australia, as well as other Americans of various ethnic backgrounds. Can you talk about the diversity in the casting and what it was like working with the group?
It’s really an honor. I think the best thing about it was the context to not put ethnicity in the character breakdown. For instance when I got the character breakdown for Trini it didn’t say that Trini has to be Latina. As for Kimberly it didn’t say that Kimberly (Naomi Scott) was half-Indian, and it didn’t say Billy (RJ Cyler) had to be African-American, it didn’t say that Jason (Dacre Montgomery) has to be Australian. It was like, ‘we’re just gonna let people audition, if they can carry the role that’s all that matters’. And so, in this movie I think you will see that. Not only are we diverse ethnicity wise, but gender wise I think. It’s amazing that we get to have two female superheroes that work together. That you don’t see all the time. Not only that but they’re working with men and they’re not one without the other. The core ensemble needs to work together in order to be the best that they can be. And as far as it being diverse on social issues, as far as what these characters are dealing with, they’re dealing with bullying at school, cyberbullying, identity issues, learning disabilities. The spectrum is so wide, for how diverse this cast is, and how these characters are. So for me, especially as a Latina, it’s everything. It’s a message that I stand for and continue to represent.
How was it working with all the CGI and physical action elements during filming? Having worked on set for your role on the tv show Empire in 2015, it must have been different moving to a movie like this.
It’s very different, although Taraji (“Empire” lead actress Taraji P. Henson) put us to work in the episodes I did. Being part of a girl group is not easy. “Empire” was still kind of a comfort zone for me because it still had to do with music, the transition into the acting world, in filming a tv show, is very different than filming a movie. You have an ensemble of five different people with five different characters and they’re all in scenes together. You really have to be present and make decisions for your characters. You don’t want to just look like you’re standing there. And I think for me especially, because I don’t have a big acting background, really thought I needed to prove myself as an actor to the audience that would be watching this movie and I truly think they will see me as Trini and not Becky G which is something I am very proud of. On top of that the CGI, green screen, our director Dean (Dean Israelite) did very well in keeping us in the loop as far as what we were looking at and being specific when we were dealing with green screen, cuz it can get hard you know, You really do have to use your imagination and sometimes you feel like an idiot because you’re like, ‘I’m talking to Alpha 5, but Alpha 5 isn’t here. What does Alpha 5 look like?!’. Dean was always showing us pictures and showing us videos and whatnot. For the most part actually, I want to say a big part of the movie we filmed, like 85%, was all real props, it was all real. The post production obviously enhances what we were working with but for the most part, the spaceship and everything, that was all built out for us to really work on and be able to take that energy and create the vibe that was real.
Did you give your sabertooth tiger Zord a name?
Sabertooth tiger.. I mean, I don’t think in this movie they have any names beyond what the Zord’s are called, obviously I think mine is the best just like how everyone else thinks there’s is the best. I thought aesthetically mine was the coolest, the sabertooth tiger, because I love the color yellow and I love how it popped, but of course everyone’s is special in their own way.
Finally, for fans of the old series, and those that are new to it, what will it be like watching this version of Power Rangers?
I think what’s special about this movie is we somehow managed to cater to everyone. When I say little kids can go watch this movie, and connect to these characters just as much as their parents when they go watch this movie, it gives OG ranger fans a piece of their childhood, I think it will make them feel very nostalgic, and I think it’s also fun enough to take your abuelitos to go watch it. It’s a movie for everyone. It’s definitely a good, action-filled family movie with a lot of depth to the characters and also a lot of light-heartedness and funniness that kind of carries the script, so I think everyone can go watch this movie.
Power Rangers is out now in theaters.