Chicago Wizard World Comic Con Comic Con

Jason David Frank: It’s Still Morphin’ Time

Thursday, September 18, 2014 Stella Quimby

In late August of 1993, America was introduced to five teenagers with attitude.  Using the power of the dinosaur, these five ordinary teens protected the world from the forces of evil and inspired a generation of viewers to believe that, even if they were ordinary, they could still accomplish extraordinary things.  They were the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.  It was during this time that 20-year-old Jason David Frank got his first taste of stardom.  Joining the series as Tommy Oliver, a young martial artist new to town, Jason quickly captured the imagination of viewers everywhere as he donned green and gold and battled the other rangers, having been put under an evil spell by the show’s antagonist, Rita Repulsa.  As the show progressed, Rita’s spell was broken, Tommy joined the other five rangers in the fight for good, and soon found himself leading the team.

It is now August of 2014 and Jason, now 40, has just arrived in Rosemont, Illinois for the annual Chicago Wizard World Comic Con Convention. Since his start with the Power Rangers 21 years prior, he has played five different rangers as Tommy Oliver and has made more appearances on the show than any other actor while the Power Rangers franchise has endured for over two decades and undergone multiple reincarnations, making it one of the most widely successful children’s television programs in history. Jason is also one of the most sought after celebrities at fan conventions like Comic Con.

We had the unique opportunity to sit down with “JDF” for just a few minutes and get inside the mind of the man behind arguably the most popular Power Ranger of all time.

We first asked Jason what keeps driving him to attend conventions like Wizard World all across the country year after year.  His response was quickly summed up with his two opening words.  “The fans,” he told us, followed by, “It’s the energy from people that keeps me going.”  “I really love what I’m doing,”  he continued.  “It has nothing to do with money.  I never wanted to make this like a job.”  This is evidenced by the fact that, since beginning his rounds on the convention circuit, he has never charged an appearance fee for his services.

After hearing this response to our opening question, we became quite curious as to how one man manages to balance his commitment to the fans with the other aspects of his life like his family, acting career, overseeing his own business, and hobbies which include skydiving, in which he holds a world record.  “That’s definitely hard,” he said.  His secret?  Time budgeting.  Practically every second of every day is accounted for before it even begins.  Through time budgeting, he is able to juggle appearances and running a business while still being allowed time to spend with his family, train, enjoy his hobbies, and still get some much needed leisure time.  He goes on to say, “You just have to strive to be the best you can and you just can’t ever give up.  People are here to see me.  I want to give them my positives and they want to take the positives.  I don’t want to give them my negatives.”  On top of this, Jason is always vigilant of the fans’ appreciation of his efforts.  “The more I see that, the more I want to work and when you see results you want to work harder.”

Switching gears, we began talking with Jason about the franchise that brought him world fame.  “Why do you think the Power Ranger franchise has reached the level of success that it has over 21 years and through multiple generations?” we inquired.  “Personally,” he begins, “my feelings are that it’s colorful, it has Karate, at one point it was like a soap opera (with a continuing storyline), and you can relate to certain characters.  I think the secret is that it’s never changed.  The Shell Monster still looks like the Shell Monster it did 20 years ago.  It’s branded really well for people.  The minute you start changing the brand, people start getting lost.”  He compared it to owning a Porsche.  “The body style never changes.”

Moving on, we asked Jason about his multiple appearances on various incarnations of Power Rangers and his involvement in the upcoming “Ranger War” taking place later this fall.  “It’s something to look forward to.  It’s going to be, I think, epic, but not enough.  I think you all are going to want more.”  He then hinted at a possible, but not yet certain green ranger spin-off sometime in the not-too-distant future.  “We’ll know very soon if that’s going to happen and, if it does, it’s going to be huge.”

With time running short, we had one more question for Jason.  Since we have both been Power Ranger fans since we were kids, we knew we had a unique opportunity to ask a question that has been on the minds of Ranger fans for years.  “Out of the five rangers you’ve played, we’re curious to know, does Jason David Frank have a favorite?” we asked.  “The good thing is there’s no wrong answer to that, because I was all five of them,” he said, “but the green ranger was the first time I was with the rangers, so it’s the one stuck in my head.”  With time now expired, we ended our line of questioning, thanked Jason for taking some time to speak with us, snapped a quick photo with our childhood hero, and bid farewell.

It is clear that “JDF” has no plans to slow down anytime in the near future.  His commitment and dedication to the fans who adore and admire him seems to be all the fuel he needs to stay focused on his goal of bringing joy to the fans whom he credits with bringing him the level of success he has attained.  Between all of his success and the pride he takes in giving back to the fans, it looks like his is a journey worthy of being called “morphenomenal.”

by Andrew Seisser & Justin Williams

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