Open This Chest To Reveal Your Destiny: An Interview With The Red And Pink Rangers Of ‘Power Rangers Dino Charge’
If you've been paying attention, you've probably already figured out that I'm a pretty big fan of the Power Rangers, and with that love comes a whole lot of questions about how that show works. This week, with Power Rangers Dino Charge returning to Saturday afternoons on Nickelodeon, I had the chance to talk to two members of the current cast to finally get my answers: Brennan Mejia, who plays Tyler, the Red Ranger, and Camille Hyde, who plays Shelby, the Pink Ranger.
Over the course of the interview, Mejia and Hyde talk to us about interacting with fans, their subtle tributes to Japan's Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger, and --- in what I can assure you is something you're going to want to read --- the truly amazing audition process for becoming a Power Ranger.
ComicsAlliance: What's the process like of getting the role as a Power Ranger?
Brennan Mejia: Oh my goodness. Well, fun fact: I actually auditioned for a previous season, Power Rangers Samurai, like three times and didn't get it, so when I got the call for Dino Charge, I was already kind of jaded. I was like, "Eh, they didn't like me the first time." But then they auditioned us, what, four or five times?
Camille Hyde: Yeah, something like that.
BM: Each time, we wore a different color, we had to do a new physical demonstration showing that we were physically capable, they'd mix and match us with other people. It was like ten hours long, playing different colors and characters --- colors as in my shirt [laughs]. I tried out for the Blue Ranger and the Green Ranger, too.
CA: Can I just say that it's amazing that you wear your Ranger colors at the audition?
BM: We have to!
CH: They have to make sure that we look good in the color that we're going to be wearing for nine months!
BM: True story.
CA: It makes sense! It's your wardrobe now.
BM: Oh, all the time. It's weird to not wear our colors after being in them constantly for almost a year.
CA: Brennan, you ended up getting the role of the Red Ranger. You're the leader, you have the big drama in your story with Tyler looking for his missing father. You mentioned being jaded from your previous auditions, but what was it like to find out you were going to be the Red Ranger?
BM: Actually, after auditioning four or five times, we didn't hear anything for a month, and then they called us, "Please come in one more time!" I was like "Are you serious? You've seen me a total of eight times between Samurai and Dino Charge! You know what I look like! Fine, okay." So I drive up from San Diego, it's like a two-hour drive, because I was working at the San Diego Zoo as an acrobat at the time, and it's a cold read. They just hand me a script and turn on the cameras and they're like, "Go." "Well, can I read it outside real quick?" "Nope, just do it." So I'm thinking well, okay, this is going to be a horrible read.
So I read it, and in the scene, they hand me a treasure chest and say, "Open this box to reveal your destiny!" I open it, and there's this picture of the Red Ranger and it says "Congratulations, Brennan: You're the Red Ranger." Are you serious right now?! They captured all of that for everyone, and we got to watch them. It was crazy. It was mind-blowing.
After that, it was like, "Okay, I love Power Rangers again! It's all worth it!"
CA: That is literally the most amazing thing I've ever heard. They gave you a treasure chest.
CA: Camille, was it the same for you?
CH: Yeah. I am a full-time student at Chapman University, so I was in my Biology lab when I got the call to audition, and I told the teacher that I was feeling under the weather and needed to go. I drove up to LA and auditioned, and, you know, usually as an actor, you try to forget about an audition when you leave the room, because chances are, you're not going to get it. The odds are never really in your favor, there's so many people. You go, you leave it in the room, you do your best, and you don't think about it. But for some reason, after that audition, I called my mom, and got a really good pita wrap...
BM: Very important.
CH: Yeah. And as I was consuming my wrap, I said, "Mom, that shoots in New Zealand. That would mean that I'd have to postpone graduation!" And she was like "Are you really talking about an audition after it's already done?" "I don't know, I just feel good about it." Then I got the call back the next week, then the call after that, and then we did this whole ten-hour process. It's a ten-hour audition. We have to run on camera to make sure we're adequate!
BM: We have to look heroic while we run towards the camera.
CH: Which is very ironic, because given my history in New Zealand during nine months of filming, I think I deserve a medal for the number of times I tripped. So that was the audition process. Finding out was awesome, I lost control and started crying. It was awesome.
CA: An acrobat at a zoo and a student in a biology lab, those are actually like Power Ranger origin stories.
BM: [Laughs] It's weird, right? I was going to school online at the time.
CH: Education first and foremost! Always should be.
CA: Power Rangers has been around for over 20 years now, so there's a big legacy that you're joining when you get the job, and I was wondering. You know how there's a letter left in the desk for the President after every election? Is it like that with the Power Rangers? Do you hear from the previous cast when you get to New Zealand to start the show?
CH: The last cast, MegaForce, actually welcomed us with open arms. They were very supportive and very sweet, the Yellow and Pink Ranger from last season, they wrote to me all the time to check up on me and make sure I was doing all right so far away from home. They're both a bit older and knew it was a long way from home. The whole cast was very supportive.
Once you're in the Ranger Family, you're always in the Ranger Family. There's no competition between any of us, there's no hierarchy, everyone's just there for each other. That's a really great safety net to have.
CA: When you have superheroes that are native to comics, I think we all have an idea of what Batman or Superman look like that comes from different artists and different actors, but for the Power Rangers, you're it. When you walk down the street, you look exactly like the Red and Pink Rangers.
CH: [Laughs] Yeah. It's cool, I was home a couple weeks ago for a cousin's wedding. I'm from Washington, DC, and I went to my favorite pizza place to order a pizza with my dad. These two little boys run up to me, they'd already been whispering in a corner and their dad was like, "Go, go, go!" They come up to me and they go "Are you the Pink Ranger?!" I go "Yeah!" and then they stare at me and run away. Their dad's like, "Wait, come back, get a picture!" It's so cute! Little things like that humble you and remind you why you do it.
CA: Were you wearing pink at the time?
CH: I was not wearing pink! It was Football Sunday, I was wearing a Rams jersey and shorts! They must have been paying really close attention.
CA: I know that the Japanese version of Dino Charge, Kyoryuger, has a strange emphasis on samba dancing.
CA: I know that the Blue Ranger has been on video doing some of the dances behind the scenes. Do you ever wish you got more of an opportunity to dance?
BM: Did you watch all of Kyoryuger?
CA: Not yet!
BM: Well, our Blue Ranger, Yoshi Sudarso, is a huge Super Sentai fan, so he got me into Kyoryuger. I watched all of it, just as background research on our show, and I loved the dancing in their storyline. I don't think it would make as much sense for how our show works --- their whole thing is finding the melody of the Earth and using the power of dancing to connect the heroes to dinosaurs. That's not a theme that our writers went with.
If you pay close attention to the first few episodes, Yoshi, James and myself do a little bit of the dances here and there. James hums the theme song on his skateboard in the intro to one of the episodes, so we try to sneak in a little Kyoryuger mementos for super-fans to pick up on. There's nothing else we can do about it. We just did it, and when one fan finds it on Twitter, they're like, "Oh, they did the dance! They hummed the theme song! That's so cool!" That we can pay tribute to our original footage is just awesome to do.
CA: One of the things you two did in a recent episode is that you dressed as a prince and princess.
BM: Yeah, that was fun.
CH: Sitting in a dress is always somewhat difficult, but we wanted to go there.
BM: And having a fake mustache clipped to your face isn't the most comfortable thing in the world.
CH: We actually shot some of that episode on my birthday. That was really fun, to be dressed in that big ball gown on my birthday.
CA: What's it like filming in New Zealand? It's always fun for me as a viewer to hear the people who are trying, or sometimes not trying, to hide their accents.
BM: It was my first time out of the country, actually, so it was really awesome and life-changing. I've always wanted to go to New Zealand, ever since I saw Lord of the Rings, it's like, "I have to go to this place!" And then as a kid watching Power Rangers, it was like, "I have to be a Power Ranger!" Now I'm a Power Ranger and I've been to New Zealand. That's two life goals at the same time, it's awesome. For me, meeting people and getting to see different cultures is just eye-opening, and it's such a privilege.
CH: The culture out there is a lot different, too, almost opposite to the culture in Los Angeles, where a lot of things are filmed. It's so refreshing to be in a place where everyone's on an equal playing field. There's so much feminism there, so much equality between different genders and different religions. It's awesome to make lifetime friends with people who are so different but so similar to you at the same time. Being in New Zealand in general, being a local, there's something about that that will always stay with me. It's so cool to be a local in New Zealand.
BM: I got a New Zealand driver's license while I was there. It's a little token to take with me.
CA: Our former editor Caleb Goellner, who's a huge Power Rangers fan, wanted me to ask you a question about the crew. The cast rotates out with every show, but the crew, they've been there for years.
CH: Yes, they've been there for many years.
CA: He wanted to know if there was any extra stress on them because there are so many more costumes than the other shows.
BM: Our crew is so on top of things, especially the stuntmen. They came up with so much great new footage to compliment the Kyoryuger footage, because our writer, director and producer, Chip Lynn, had such a huge story in mind. Without the expertise of literally decades under their belt, I don't think it would've been able to have been pulled off in such a way that it's been going so far. So yeah, it was definitely more challenging compared to previous seasons because there's so much original footage. There's ten Rangers by the end of it, which is unheard of! But the way that they pulled it together was so phenomenal, and something to look up to. When you see it on air, you're going to be blown away.
CA: And Chip Lynn has been involved with the show since all the way back in Mighty Morphin, as well. Has it been interesting to work with him?
CH: Chip was very hands-on with us, so we all had a working relationship, but we also all had a personal relationship with him. Like, on weekends, because we were really far from home, I'd spend every other weekend at his house, playing with his dog, going to the Farmer's Market. He really wanted to create a familial relationship with all of us, which really meant a lot to us. When we're all putting our lives on hold, it's good to know that there's someone there who really just wanted the best for us, and wanted us to be as happy as possible. If anything had gone wrong in any of our lives, he was always there for us. I know he's enhanced our experience there by a long shot.
CA: One more question, and believe it or not, this isn't just a question I ask of the Power Rangers: What is your actual favorite dinosaur?
BM: Ooh, that is a good question.
CH: Brontosaurus for me. I like Littlefoot from Land Before Time!
BM: I like the pterodactyl! Being able to fly is so freeing. T-Rex is up there as well. If you'd asked me that question before Power Rangers, it'd definitely be pterodactyl, but now it's the T-Rex.
Power Rangers Dino Charge airs on Saturdays at 12 pm ET/PT, 11 C on Nickelodeon.
Best Power Rangers Fan Art Ever