Power Rangers Dino Fury is a 2019 Power Rangers series, and it’s the franchise’s first LGBTQ+ Ranger. To celebrate this historic moment in history, director David Higgins spoke to The Nerdy Girl Express about what makes an icon like Tessa Rao so necessary in a world that needs more representation of people from all walks of life.
Tessa Rao, the first openly LGBTQ+ Power Rangers Dino Fury Ranger, talks about her biggest moments on the show and what it was like to be a part of such an important moment for the franchise.
The Power Rangers are a group of superheroes who Dino Fury has delivered in a variety of ways, including discoveries regarding the game’s larger mythos as well as firsts for the franchise. The unveiling of Izzy Garcia, portrayed by Tessa Rao, as the franchise’s first LGBTQ+ Ranger, was definitely one of the season’s most memorable moments, but that was only one fantastic chapter in Izzy and Tessa’s Power Rangers adventure. We got the opportunity to speak with Rao about Dino Fury’s first season and the numerous major events that occurred throughout it, and we wanted to know which moment was her favorite for her character and which was her favorite behind-the-scenes incident from the first half of the season.
“Izzy, on the other hand, thought the first episode was fantastic. It’s our first episode, and episode four was incredible to work on, but I believe my favorite moment for Izzy in the first half of season one was in episode five, when she grew over the episodes “Rao said. “I believe we first meet Izzy as a tenacious, tunnel-visioned young lady who is so intent on accomplishing her objectives and winning for her father, her community, and herself that it constantly takes precedence over her choices. Especially at the start. And I think episode five was a very, really significant one for her to understand that, at the end of the day, what matters is how you treat people in general, not just the ones you love.”
(Photo courtesy of Hasbro)
Behind the scenes was included in episode 4 as well, and utilized a harp.
“So, there you have it. I believe it was a watershed event for her, and there were many more behind the scenes. However, the one that springs to mind is from episode four. Chance’s role and how he uses the harmonica to distract the criminals, and our AD, Johnny, who is a fantastic person, was playing extremely horrible harmonica noises with his lips while we were shooting that. He wasn’t really playing the harmonica, but he was… When the harmonica is played, it generally screeches, so we had to… We had to keep a straight face if we were in the scene, but even when we were on camera and had to keep it together, every time we heard it, particularly with Chance next to me, who is constantly finding things hilarious and making it difficult for me to be serious, was so much fun “Rao said. “We were unable to maintain our composure. It was hilarious.”
Izzy, who starts off in a conventional female Ranger outfit with a skirt, pulls it off since she doesn’t like it. That prompted a slew of GIFs (like the one below hehe) to flood social media, and the moment quickly became a fan favorite. While Rao was aware that it was a larger issue, she had no idea it would become such a pivotal moment for the community and the program.
(Photo courtesy of Hasbro)
“I’m not sure what I was thinking… I remember reading that and thinking, “Ooh,” and then we were in the table read and that moment occurred, and everyone was seated. It was evident to them that this was a watershed moment for Izzy and the brand in general, but I don’t believe I realized how heated the fight would be about logistics and such. I don’t believe I anticipated it… It’s been fascinating to read and hear fans’ reactions to that, since they obviously know a lot more than I do, but sure. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, I believe you can sense that this is a significant event. It seemed like a historic occurrence.”
Then there was the Dino Fury episode The Matchmaker, which became a major milestone for the program before it ever aired in the United States. Izzy was revealed to be LGBTQ+ when it aired globally, making her the show’s first LGBTQ+ Ranger. It’s a significant milestone that many have aspired to for a long time, and Rao is ecstatic to be a part of making it a reality.
“It means a lot to me. It is, without a doubt, this portrayal. This tale is what inspired me to pursue this career path, and it continues to inspire me “Rao said. “Telling the stories of individuals who haven’t been told at all, appropriately, or sufficiently is one of the most powerful things we can do as artists, and there are a lot of tales like that out there, not just this one. So I think for me, being able to have such an essential element of my first major job like that… I don’t believe it’s the most essential part of Izzy; I think it’s simply a component of her identity, but I can absolutely accept and comprehend how significant this is, and I’m really proud of her. I’m really ecstatic to be a part of it.”
(Photo courtesy of Hasbro)
“I have to give credit to the authors. I have to give credit to Simon, our executive producer, for those decisions, but I’m just so excited to be a part of it. I first learned about it when they sent me an email after I’d been given the part, but it wasn’t finalized yet “Rao said. “‘Just a heads up, your character will have to cut her hair and will be a member of the LGBTQ+ community,’ they stated. And I was like, alright, OK with the second one, but what about chopping my hair? What? That made me feel even more frightened. I thought the other portion was fantastic. Okay, that’s OK.”
“But it didn’t really… it wasn’t at the time… because I didn’t understand it was the first in television history,” Rao said. “So I expected that would be a huge problem, but I believe the thing that scared me the most was having to cut my hair. Which, as you can see, I eventually agreed to, but yes. So I don’t think it felt like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to play this role,’ but once it began occurring and I realized the gravity of the situation, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, this is such an honor.’ This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me.”
Season 1 of Power Rangers Dino Fury is currently accessible on Netflix, and season 2 will be available next year.
In season 2, what do you want to see from Izzy? Let us know in the comments, and as usual, you can reach out to me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB to discuss all things Power Rangers!
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